The University Record, May 20, 1998


'No one is 'born to smoke'

Regarding the article/news release you recently ran about some people being "born to smoke": It almost sounds cute--in fact I can picture it now, a teen taking another drag on a cigarette and saying, nonchalantly to friends, "I guess I'm just born to smoke."

No one is "born to smoke." Unlike drinking, which we need to do from infancy in order to survive, whether with mother's milk or a cool drink of water or a warm cup of cocoa on a winter's night, there is no biological reason to place a roll of shredded leaves in your mouth and light it. Once having chosen to do so, however, there may be a greater or lesser propensity to become addicted to tobacco and enslaved by the corporate merchants of death (a.k.a. tobacco companies). But addiction to tobacco is also possible with the use of smokeless tobacco, another nicotine product being pushed and promoted to young people.

Born to smoke? It sounds like a Springsteen title. The reality is not so clever; it is as brainless as people who choose to use tobacco in spite of all we know about the consequences. No one is born to smoke. And young people in particular need to know that in addition to the immediate problems of tobacco--the expense, the respiratory effects, the stench--that for some it will be a lifelong restriction on their freedom, a real chump's choice.

Sharon K. Wieland, program assistant,

Communication Studies


ABPAFS states position on affirmative action

As U-M constituents, the Association of Black Professionals, Administrators, Faculty, and Staff (ABPAFS) wishes to state its position regarding the ongoing attacks against affirmative action and its initiatives.

We believe that the disparaging remarks regarding U-M's admissions policies by Rep. David Jaye and other State of Michigan legislators are driven by inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation, and motivated by a desire to exclude students of color and poorer families from the university setting ("Rich Kids Going Public Rather than Private," Black Issues in Higher Education, Sept. 18, 1997).

We believe that every person should have equal consideration in university and college admissions, educational programs and activities, and employment. We believe that the U-M strives to support equal opportunity through affirmative action initiatives.

We believe that racial and gender inequalities continue to exist in the U.S.A., and that affirmative action has opened windows of opportunity for people of color, women, and others--windows that remained closed less than 30 years ago.

We believe that these simple truths have been either ignored or forgotten:

• Affirmative action has never required employers or universities to hire or enroll unqualified or less qualified applicants or students.

• Affirmative action plans to do not set "quotas."

A mere racial or gender imbalance in the work force or at a university does not create an affirmative action obligation.

• Affirmative action is neither "reverse racism" nor "reverse discrimination" (Don Sessions, "Why Affirmative Action Is Still Necessary," EEO Bimonthly, July/August 1997).

We believe in and support the efforts of President Lee C. Bollinger and other noted university presidents who signed an open letter titled "On The Importance of Diversity in University Admissions." The letter embraces affirmative action initiatives. We believe that while education increases opportunities for all people, educational opportunities are not fairly and consistently available to all people. We believe that affirmative action is a system for "leveling the playing field," and a means of providing some form of equity in a society that consistently demonstrates its inability to do so of its own accord.

We believe that society needs to pursue plans that will allow multiculturalism and diversity to flourish. We believe that the university setting is the best place for these plans to be conceived, incubated, and birthed. To establish the best plans, a fair representation of society must be present. We believe that affirmative action makes such allowances.

As advocates of a multicultural and diverse society, the ABPAFS believes that feasible race and gender equitable programs could be developed to replace affirmative action. However, until such programs are introduced, we feel obligated to support affirmative action. We view affirmative action as one form of defense against a history that was often hostile to disabled individuals, Vietnam-era veterans, people of color, women and the poor. To ignore this fundamental truth regarding the United States' past is to ignore the possible negative consequences of a defeated affirmative action agenda on our progressively multicultural and diverse republic.

Charles Ransom, President, ABPAFS