The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 17, 1998, Page 4, Image 4

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Paula Lavigne
Kasey Kerber
Brad Davis
Erin Gibson
Shannon Heffelfinger
Chad Lorenz
Jeff Randall
drunk kills
Student s death is
tragic reminder
Laura Cockson should not be dead today.
She should be as alive as your best friend,
your girlfriend, your sister, your cousin, your
student, your employee.
Laura was killed Saturday when 25-year
old Jeffrey Ireland, later arrested for drunken
driving and motor vehicle homicide, rammed
his car into the side of the vehicle in which
Laura was a passenger. Laura’s two sisters,
Sarah and Erin, also were critically injured.
In 1997, about 95 people were killed in
drunken driving accidents in Nebraska.
Laura could very well be another statistic,
another number to simply add to this year’s
Tell that to her sisters while they recover.
Tell that to her parents. Tell that to her sisters
at Gamma Phi Beta Sorority.
Tell that to our senior sports reporter who
was Laura’s roommate.
It hits home.
But tor some people, it just doesn’t hit
hard enough. There’s a point to how many
times someone can preach “it could happen
to you” where it’s obvious that no one is lis
Too many supposedly mature college stu
dents still think drinking and driving is cool.
Is it just as cool as thinking about the
twisted metal and glass embedded in the
body and face of your best friend?
Is it just as coolas<getting a call from your
parents saying they think your sister is dead
but aren’t sure because they can’t recognize
her bloodied face?
Is it just as cool to spend the rest of your
life holding Mom’s hand through slots in the
jail cell bars because you were too “embar
rassed” to call a friend - or a cab — for a ride
If this warning has to be graphic enough
to scare you into reason, then so be it.
Whatever it takes is better than mourning the
senseless death of another University of
Nebraska-Lincoln student before the year is
un 5t. ramck s Day in 1995, according to
the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, 55 people were killed in alco
hol-related crashes nationwide. That’s about
one for each state. Don’t let it be Nebraska.
Let this word of caution - and the death of
your fellow student — weigh heavily on your
conscience as you toast the Irish at the bars
this evening.
Do not drink and drive. Do not let your
friends drink and drive.
Do not take this as a generic public service
Take it to heart.
Our staff extends its condolences to Laura
Cockson’s family and friends, and to her
roommate, Shannon Heffelfinger, Daily
Nebraskan senior sports reporter.
Unsigned editorials are the opinions of
the Spring 1998 Daily Nebraskan. They
do not necessarily reflect the views of the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, its
employees, its student body or the
University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
A column is solely the opinion of its author.
The Board of Regents serves as pubfisher
of the Daily Nebraskan; policy is set by
the Daily Nebraskan Edttorial Board. Tne
UNL Publications Board, established by
the regents, supervises the production
of the paper. According to policy set by
the regents, responsibility for the editorial
content of the newspaper lies solely in
the hands of its student employees.
Letter Policy
The Daily Nebraskan welcomes brief
letters to the editor and guest columns,
but does not guarantee their publication.
The Daily Nebraskan retains the right to
edit or reject any material submitted.
Submitted material becomes property of
the Daily Nebraskan and cannot be
returned. Anonymous submissions will
not be published. Those who submit
letters must identify themselves by name,
year in school, major and/or grow
affiliation, if any.
Submit material to: Daily Nebraskan, 34
Nebraska Union, 1400 R St Lincoln,
NE. 68588-0448. E-mail:
I T \ K II 7“7—1 IS—7——-1
Unfinished business
Affirmative action still vital in our imperfect society
a sophomore news-editori
al major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
Racism lives. Yes, even in 1998,
people continue to be judged by what
they look like rather than who they
For this reason, we need affirma
tive action.
Programs used by government
agencies, businesses, schools and the
like to give minorities a fair shake in
obtaining employment have endured
much criticism in recent years. Why?
A variety of reasons exist for this
First, many people believe that
affirmative action gives an “unfair”
advantage to members of minorities.
Some are afraid affirmative action
policies could hurt their chances of
finding employment; they believe
whites might miss out on job oppor
Is this true? In some cases,
maybe. But ask yourself this: If affir
mative action policies did not exist,
would minorities get a fair chance at
finding a good job? Not always.
Though most companies, col
leges, etc., would probably be fair in
hiring and accepting minorities, there
may be some who would not. We
need to ensure that equal opportunity
for minorities is protected; we need
affirmative action.
The day may arrive when we’ll
live in a color-blind society.
Hopefully, affirmative action will
one day not be needed. That time,
though, is still far away.
Another thing to remember about
affirmative action policies is that
they’re set up only when needed.
Also, they’re usually set up to be
done away with once their objectives
have been met.
When affirmative action is not
needed, it’s not used.
Therefore, any law that would
prohibit affirmative action would be
While companies would still be
prohibited from practicing discrimi
nation, they might not do all they can
to ensure that their hiring practices
are fair. This could cause problems
for members of minorities.
Affirmative action policies are
needed to ensure that equal opportu
nity exists for all.
Affirmative action also attempts
to right the wrongs of the past, some
say. Minorities have, after all, suf
fered cruel discrimination for hun
dreds of years at the hands of white
Some would argue: “You can’t
make up for wrongs done in the
past.” That’s a bunch of crap. Yes, it is
difficult to right the wrongs of the
past, but that doesn’t mean we
shouldn’t try.
A couple of weeks ago, the Daily
Nebraskan ran an article about a
local African-American man who
had served in a highly regarded
Army Air Corps unit in World War II.
He retired from the army as a lieu
tenant colonel and began teaching
here in Lincoln.
When he attempted to purchase a
house, his would-be neighbors
protested, believing the presence of
an African-American family in the
neighborhood would devalue their
property. This event is not ancient
history; he still lives in that house.
The point of this story is this:
Although this man can no longer
benefit from affirmative action, his
immediate offspring can. He can, at
least, have the satisfaction of know
ing that his children may not have to
suffer the same types of discrimina
tion that he had to suffer.
In this way, affirmative action
can be used to right the wrongs our
society and country has committed
against minorities.
To be sure, our country has come
a long way in the battle against
racism. Opportunities exist for
minorities now that they could not
have dreamed of a generation ago.
Members of minorities have
come to occupy high positions in the
public and private world, and racism
is no longer as socially acceptable as
it once was.
Still, we’re not rid of this problem
yet. As long as minorities occupy
prisons in disproportionate amounts,
we need to work against racism.
As long as people continue to be
judged by the color of their skin
instead of by what they do, we need
to wage war against the festering
cancer that is racism.
For this reason, we must not do
away with affirmative action, despite
people’s objections to it. No, it’s not
perfect and it will always be contro
Still, I believe affirmative action
is necessary to ensure that all people
in this great country of ours have the
opportunity to make something of
Let’s keep the American dream
alive; let’s hang on to affirmative