The University Record, January 28, 1998
Five children, a grown-up and a puppy went off to the "Duck Pond" on Hubbard Road near Green Road to skake for the fifth year in a row. The firm ice had been tested twice in the past 24 hours. Conditions were ideal. We set to work with shovel and broom, clearing mazes and rinks. For the next two hours we skated, played hockey, learned spins and jumps, and generally had fun. Then about 4:00 the puppy got cold and the grown-up left for home, leaving the kids with a cell phone. The kids played alone for another 50 minutes. Then a call went home. "Put on the hot chocolate!" Five minutes later disaster struck. No, nobody fell in. It came in the form of a U of M Public Safety official, telling us that we had to get off the ice. Not only that, but someone was planning to build a fence around the pond. Why? Because the U of Mich. did not want to be held responsible if someone fell in. Needless to say, we were disappointed and very, very mad. Two of us even started to cry. Of course, none of this would have happened if we had been home playing video games or watching TV.
Why didn't they want us skating? There is a simple solution to each one of their concerns. 1) As stated before, they didn't want to be held responsible. Just put up a big sign that says SKATE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
2) They were afraid it wasn't cold enough. We had been checking the temperature since last Friday in anticipation of the pond freezing. Never had it gone more than one degree above freezing. Also, the pond is no deeper than one and one-half foot at its deepest point. We have seen egrets and herons stalking their dinner through the pond in the summer.
Basically, it seemed to us that they didn't want us skating no matter what the conditions were.
If the University is going to put a fence around the pond, that would just be sheer lunacy. How will future generations be able to love and respect nature if there are fences around everything?
Nell Wiener, age 14; Mary Wessel Walker, age 13; Alec Wiener, age 10; Margaret Wessel Walker, age 10; Eliza Wiener, age 8
Editors Note: This is in response to the letter of Ms. Mary S. Roth which appeared in the Jan. 21 issue of the Record.
Contrary to the easy generalizations purveyed by Ms. Roth, not all of those opposed to preferential treatment in university admission lines are necessarily "outraged" or "frightened" or even stereotypical "white males." Speaking only for myself, at least, I find the matter of preferential treatment on racial, ethnic, or gender lines, particularly when practiced by institutions of "higher learning" to be incompatible with basic democracy and downright human decency. It is just foolishness to claim that use of GPAs and test scores in admission policies is part of some conspiracy to "return to an all-white male educational environment." Heaven forbid.
George Orwell said it all long before. "All people are equal--it's just that some are more equal than others." The difference he was speaking of privileges in totalitarian systems like Facist Germany or Soviet Russia where MERIT was based upon sheep-like obedience to police-state policy. I doubt that Ms. Roth would endorse their policies. But are they so different from the modus operandi of the current crop of affirmative action elitists?
On the other hand, I very much agree with Ms. Roth's objections that athletic departments admit students WITHOUT strict adherence to academic qualifications. Yet there is an interesting paradox here. For the athletic department is the ONLY unit of this university which is truly color-blind. For them nothing counts but MERIT. Admittedly the "merit" may be viewed as trivial like putting a large ball in a hoop or hitting a small ball with a stick. Nevertheless merit alone counts. Whether their particular brand of Meritocracy is meritorious is, of course, another issue.
Cecil D. Eby
Professor of English, Ret.