The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 05, 2001, Page 4, Image 4

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Since 1901
Edtor. Sarah Baker
Opinion Page Ecfitor Jake Glazeski
Managing Ecfitor: Bracfiey Davis
Its about time
NU's plans to recruit in
state long overdue
As the summer of one student's senior year
of high school came swiftly to a close, the mail
box, just as swiftly, became stuffed with
brochures touting die excellence of schools
across the nation.
The younger sibling of one member of this
newspaper's editorial board - who, by some
stroke of luck, is now finishing up a second
semester at UNL - received, literally, tons of
materials from out-of-state colleges.
Glossy brochures, shiny catalogues and per
sonalized letters awaited daily to welcome the
student to campuses across the United States.
Ironically enough, this corn-fed Nebraska
kid - a straight-A honors student with activities
coming out of the ears - never received a peep
from anyone at die University of Nebraska.
Only after asking a high school counselor for
information and an application to UNL did the
student seriously consider staying in Nebraska.
The lure of die Chancellor's Leadership
Program, the honors program and the ability to
become immediately involved on campus as a
freshman weighed in heavier than the desire to
utilize one of the many scholarships the stu
dent received from other universities.
This student is in the minority.
Ana, manktuliy, mats aoout to cnange.
The NU Board of Regents Saturday
approved the university’s most aggressive
recruitment plan in its recent history, a plan
that calls for increasing the recruiting budgets
at all three undergraduate campuses to $5.2
That's a 57 percent increase.
A necessary one.
With the increase comes a forceful plan of
attack. It means contacting students earlier in
their high school years, strengthening die mar
keting behind the campuses and offering a
larger group of scholarship options.
For the first time ever, the university also
plans to buy the names of Nebraska high
school sophomores who took the ACT practice
test, a move that will encompass more than 70
percent of the state's high school sophomores
and allow the university to begin direct mail
ings to everyone of those students.
It's high time the university got tired of los
ing so many to its neighboring state schools,
who, long ago, instated good-looking scholar
ship plans inside their four-color, slickly pro
duced marketing campaigns.
There are plenty of smart, involved, success
ful Nebraska high school students who are
waiting to be sold on an education close to
And we're sure the improvements on the
way to the university, including prioritization
and the addition of die J.D. Edwards Honors
Program, will draw top-notch Nebraska schol
But we also hope more comes along with
this package than just those top-scholars.
Many Nebraska students who aren’t always
in the top of their high school class certainly
aren’t at die bottom of the heap.
It’s those students who so often get passed
by at the University of Nebraska. It’s also those
students who often receive the prettiest schol
arships from schools like the University of
This stringent recruitment program has the
potential to make not only the University of
Nebraska great, but also to keep the best of
Nebraska in the state.
It’s long past due.
Sarah Baker, Jeff Bloom, Bradtey Davis, Jake Giazeski,
Matthew Hansen, Samuel McKewon, Kimberly Sweet
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Letters to the editor
Moan the man
This year, the ASUN election has offered us a
selection of five executive candidates. And now
there are two. Of these two candidates who have
advanced to the March 6 run-off, only one is the -
obvious choice to vote for this Tuesday. This is
Andy Mixan of the No Bull party.
What we have heard from Mixan in the debates
is what we as students need here on campus. We
need to redirect the attention of die ASUN back to
the UNL campus and, most importantly, back to
student issues. We need to create a stronger cam
pus community by focusing on issues directly con
cerning students as students, rather than dividing
the student body on social issues that do not per
tain to ASUN.
After listening to Mixan and visiting with him
on several occasions, it is apparent that these are
his exact goals. His concerns are student concerns.
That is why it is imperative that we, the stu
aenis, taice aavaniage oi mis opportunity 10
improve our campus community by voting for
Andy Mixan for our next ASUN president
Sara L. Fiedler
English and psychology
Matzen says thanks
I’d like to personally thank the Daily Nebraskan
editorial board for their endorsement of Jaron
Luttich and Nathan Fuerst for ASUN president
They were predictable, safe bets that everyone
knew were coming. Fortunately, the only endorse
ment that matters is that of the student body.
Unlike the DN, students view my inexperience as
an asset
I haven’t failed diem yet, but just give me time.
John Matzen
The deserts of meaningless words
When I use a word,
Humpty Dumpty said, in
rather a scornful tone, "it
means just what I choose it
to mean - neither more nor
"The question is,"said
yuc* lu/i --
make words mean so many JefBfTiy
different things." Patrick
"The question is,” said
Humpty Dumpty, "which is
to be master-that’salL"
- Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in
Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass"
Frequently, 1 think of a cartoon I saw in a mag
azine several months ago depicting a stereotypi
cal college professor standing in front of a chalk
board. At the top of the chalkboard, written in big
block letters, were the words “THE ACCOM
CENTURY." And under these words are various
questions, taking up die bulk of the chalkboard:
“What precisely do you mean by ’accomplish
ment?’" “What exactly are you referring to by the
term ‘philosophy?’" etc.
Jokes, of course, are funniest when they con
tain a kernel of truth.
Much of the philosophical scholarship of the
past 100 years (whether under the rubric of post
modernism, post-structuralism, moral relativism,
emotivity, or even existentialism) was devoted to
exploring what various concepts meant and,
specifically, whether the moral language we use
has any real meaning beyond the expression of
personal preference.
Philosophers in the 20th century understood
that we often use words in everyday speech that
are incoherent or internally inconsistent. Some
questions, such as the meaning of “love" or
“friendship,” are pedantic and generally irrele
vant. Exploration of other concepts may help
resolve academic debates that have continued for
centuries, but have little significance to most peo
Nietzsche took us “Beyond Good and Evil.”
Philosophers like Anthony Flew and Kai
Nielsen have argued that the question “Does God
exist?” is irrational because the entire concept of
“God” is contradictory and incoherent.
A few special concepts, however, have been
the cause of bloodshed, war and even revolutions:
honor, pride, virtue and liberty. The problem is
exacerbated when these problematic, and possi
bly meaningless, terms are used, not just in every
day speech, but in scholarship and policy-mak
A brief example: In 1976, the Supreme Court
was faced with one of its most controversial
issues: whether capital punishment, after a four
year moratorium, should be reinstated in the
United States. If capital punishment didn’t further
“legitimate state interests,” it would violate the
Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual
Interestingly, of all of the possible arguments
for capital punishment the Supreme Court may
have considered (such as its cost-effectiveness or
ability to provide "closure” to victims), it held that
only two were legitimate: deterrence and retribu
Deterrence, of course, is almost universally
seen as a valid purpose of punishment. If deter
rence were the sole legitimate purpose, the issue
would be resolved by asking if the death penalty
me answer, a resounding no.
Instead, we have an additional purpose of "ret
ribution,” which is generally understood as mak
ing sure that people get what they "deserve.” And
here, die problem becomes apparent
What does “deserve” mean?
Unlike deterrence, there is no objective way to
measure "deserve.” It was, is and always will be a
simple expression of personal taste. It embodies
the dangerous belief that mere intuitions or feel
ings are sufficient justification for general rules.
As Kant said, "A knowledge of laws, and of their
morality, can scarcely be derived from any sort of
feeling... unless we wish to open wide the gates to
every kind of fanaticism.”
History provides ample support for this view.
Michael Foucault's classic text, "Discipline and
Punish: Hie Birth of die Prison” details the history
of punishment from roughly the 17th Century to
the 20th (he died in 1960). Upon reading the book,
one fact becomes starkly apparent: the punish
ments society has inflicted on its own members
have varied drastically in intensity, duration and
viciousness, but one common factor remains: it
was always “deserved."
It was not very long ago that England had more
than 200 crimes punishable by the death penalty,
including theft. Several cultures, including
Puritans, believed in flogging or maiming. Death
penalties varied from drawing and quartering,
boiling in oil, ritual disembowelment and proba
bly any other form of cruel torture imaginable.
When anesthesia was first introduced, many
religious leaders objected to its use during preg
nancy since the mother “deserved” the pain
because of Eve’s sin. Any infliction of pain, no
matter how cruel, irrational or unnecessary, could
be justified if you could simply argue that the per
son “deserved” it
The problem is not that there is a gray area.
With almost any category, we will have some diffi
culty deciding what belongs and what does not.
The problem is that there are no black and white
areas, no grounds where everyone in society can
And even when a majority of our country votes
on what the appropriate “deserve” for a certain
crime is, we have no way of knowing if we are cor
rect or if medieval England (or any other society in
any other time) is.
As Karl Menninger, a prominent critic of our
penal system, said, "It does not advance a solution
to use the word [deserve). It is a subjective emo
tional word... the concept is so vague, so distort
ed in its application, so hypocritical and usually
so irrelevant that it offers no help in the solution
of the crime problem ... but results in its exact
opposite - injustice, injustice to everybody.”
John Rawls, the most revered American politi
cal philosopher of the 20th century, had a similar
view of deserve.
In the context of capital punishment then,
America is left without guidance. No fact, no evi
dence, no argument can ever “prove” that die exe
cution is not a just “deserve.”
So long as a majority of the public (or at least
five members of the Court) believe that it is
“deserved,” things will not change.
I suppose I would not be so concerned about
letting a democracy decide questions of “deserve”
if I had the least confidence that it knew what die
term actually means: absolutely nothing.
Modem philosophy is often criticized for hav
ing destroyed faith in everything that is impor
tant: morality, God, goodness, patriotism.
Perhaps that faith was never justified to begin
The UNLfees
that steal our
student souls
For being
“free,- public
education does
its job in trains of
providing an
institution in
which students
uui gxasp suiue
thingofafounda- Dan
tion of basic skills Leamon
and knowledge in
preparation for
Of course, it also has its kinks, like a
wide array of mystery meats, a restrictive
curriculum, a fed of cattle being haded
in and out at the sound of bells and,
above all else, a lack of reclining desk
chairs. So-called “free" is so-called “free"
and you take what you can get
Eating the mystery plastic (meat)
became routine over the years, but if
something so good, so healthy, so burst
ing with taste could come from some
thing which was costing my parents
“nothing" (taxes), then you can imagine
their elation knowing that when my first
bill from UNL landed in my mailbox,
they would be paying (not die free kind)
for my education.
They would be paying for the filet
mignon of the education world. The
most tender piece of steak in the steak
house of education -college.
Yep, I eat steak all the time on cam
pus. I eat whole cqws. In the middle of the
night I steal over to East Campus in my
Red Lobster bib with plastic knifes and
forks and slice a piece of cow.
On the day my first bill was to arrive,
my parents flew down first class from
Omaha. My extended family, including
my 14th cousin who works for NASA (he
is a space chimp), flew into Lincoln.
We had a little party outside of my
mailbox. There was cake, party hats, con
fetti and those little noisemakras.Islowiy
turned the knobs to the magic numbers,
and feeling likea'The Price is Right" con
testant, I pulled from the depths of my
mail receptacle a university envelope.
Inside was whatwe had been waiting
for the bill for the first chunk of my souL
Balloons went flying, confetti came
falling, noise malrers sounded through
out the hall and funk music blared. We
danced, we sang, I lost part of my souL It
was great <.
Since that, I have received more bills
for other parts of my souL Each party has
died a little. My parents and most of my
family don’t come anymore. They tell me
I smell funny, and I somehow am not
myself anymore. I send them the bills,
and they have a shin-dig without me.
It is OK. Don't fed sorry for me-my
Unde Larry, due leisure suit and all, still
comes. He has an air about him like he
bathed in really cheap beet The scent is
comforting when you are losing your
soul and everyone stops loving you (I
would be crying now, but I can't fed any
l move on witnout an oi my soul My
days haven't changed. I go to classes
where teachers care about understand
ing and learning more than giving grades
or proving that they know the material
real well
When I don't understand things, they
help me out instead of just teaching to
the students who are understanding
their All-Around-The-Mulberry-Bush
lectures. They slow down and take the
time and effort to find the integrity to ful
fill their duty and help me leam. I would
n't want it any other way-me giving up
my soul for teachers who teach.
I’m not knocking all ofyou-my mom
is a teacher, and watching her has helped
me to understand the spirit of education.
Some of you understand and some of
you do not
I take full advantage of my $75 tech
nology fee. I am not sure what itfs exactly
paying for, but I get every penny% worth.
I go to the health center once a day so that
my $103 worth of soul doesn’t go to
waste. My $500-a-month hotel room is
comfy and cozy-worth every bit of soul
And now, they are raising student
fees again. I am running out of soul here
folks, especially soul for a university that
may be dropped to the third tier because
it has barely a due as to how to address
any real problem it is faced with..
Maybe it is not us, the students, that
need the push. Maybe it is you, our edu
cators, that need to take the bull by the
horns and actually correct the problems
with the system. Fee hikes and
plus/minus grading scales are not the
answer - methods of teacher accounta
bility and cost reductions are.
If this is the epitome of education,
then why do you weed kids out with high
prices, poor teaching and a grading scale
that only makes the students work hard
er, not the teachers?
It is time this university re-evaluates
itself right down to the classrooms and
put its own hands orf the pulsing and
beating heart of its problems. Education
is the symphony that shapes tomorrow
but the system is succumbing to
American capitalism and greed.
Is this our future? I don't have the
answer, but I am taking my soul back so
that I can find it