Letters to the Editor

Article about lawsuit was 'one-sided'

To the Daily:
The Daily article titled "'U' prof. faces trial on charges of improperly interviewing a child" (11/4/97) contained inaccuracies and was one-sided, reflecting primarily information from Demonstenes Lorandos, the lawyer suing the University and the Family Assessment Clinic.

Edward Bileaska is not a judge and his civil suit against the clinic was summarily dismissed by the Wayne County Circuit Court. In the 1990 case, Elissa Benedek was an expert for the parents, the defendants, and Prof. Kathleen Faller was an expert for Child Protective Services. Benedek never testified in front of former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kavanaugh. The parents apparently did not have the same confidence in Benedek's opinion that Lorandos does. They pleaded nolo contendere to the child abuse charges and allowed the Juvenile Court to take custody over their four children. After they complied with the court's orders, the court closed its case. They then filed a civil suit against the University, Faller and the pediatrician who examined the child, but it was summarily dismissed. The dismissal was upheld on appeal.

The primary immunity the University has asserted in seeking a summary judgment of dismissal on the Champney case is not governmental immunity but rather immunity under the Michigan Child Protection Act. The act requires that professionals who work with children report to Child Protective Services when they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse and neglect. If they fail to do so, they are liable for harm to the child and may face criminal charges. In turn, the statute provides immunity to persons who report in good faith and who cooperate with investigations of abuse and neglect by Child Protective Services. It is fundamental to the safety of children for professionals who try to protect them to be free from retaliation.

According to his advertisement, Lorandos specializes in defending persons accused of sex offenses in civil and criminal cases and in filing civil suits on their behalf against the professionals and agencies who have formed opinions that his clients have behaved inappropriately toward children. He seems to have targeted Faller and the clinic in particular.

Lisa Baker
Associate Vice President for University Relations

Congrats to 'M' football

To the Daily:
Congratulations to the Michigan football team. We at Penn State appreciate a good football team and yours was obviously much better than ours. Your defense is phenomenal and your offensive line is great. Those are the two most important qualities a championship team must possess. Unfortunately for us, yours does but ours does not.

Here's hoping you can remain No. 1 and not get screwed by the pollsters like we did in 1994.

Bob Kellar
Penn State University

'U' policies victimize good students

To the Daily:
The University's policy on affirmative action lowers the academic standards of the University and is racist. According to The New York Times article "Group suing University of Michigan over diversity" (10/14/97), the University's policy is characterized by a sizable grade disparity between African Americans and the rest of the University's students. The two tables accompanying the article essentially reveal a dual admissions policy. This policy creates lowered admissions standards and lowers the school's academic reputation. Moreover, the dramatic increase in class size in the past 10 years may be a result of the University's efforts to offset this degrading trend.

Affirmative action patronizes African Americans. Patronization is a form of racism because it infers that African Americans are not intelligent enough to get into the University without GPA and standardized test score inflation. This inference (which is rather common) reinforces stereotypes placing African Americans in the same predicament. Thus, affirmative action policies are not the answer if America wants to absolve itself of racism.

The University's pursuit of diversity is a ruthless numbers game that leaves many fine students with excellent academic credentials indignantly rejected. According to the Daily ("'U' to fight lawsuit at any cost," 11/5/97), the University has demonstrated its resolve. Unfortunately, if the University wins it will continue to enact a policy that victimizes many excellent students.

Martin Ptasinski
LSA senior

Vote in the MSA elections

To the Daily:

Twice a year students at the University have the opportunity to vote on campus referendums and representatives. This fall's candidate and ballot question information is now available at the Website www.umich.edu/~vote. The accuracy and influence of ballot questions and the student voice depend upon voter participation. Please take a moment to visit this site in the coming weeks and then use it to cast your vote on Nov. 19 and 20.

Michigan Student Assembly

Prof. Faller violated child's rights

To the Daily:
As an organization trying to represent children's rights, we frequently come across stories of tampering with the minds of children for the purpose of favoring one parent in custody disputes, as is the case that involves Prof. Kathleen Faller.

Unfortunately, these instances of bias against fathers is something that has been repeated over and over again by many professionals conducting assessments. In our opinion, in addition to having her removed from the University, the remedies should also extent to dismantling the adversarial system of justice and fining the University for condoning such practices.

All of our support goes to the victims of this woman.

Bill Flores
The Children's Voice

Affirmative action eases racial tensions

To the Daily:

Some feel that the highlighting of race in admissions policies has led to increased racial tension. Continuing with this argument, one might conclude that eliminating racial preferences in favor of a purely merit-based system would decrease racial tensions. Take away racial preferences and we take away some animosity, right? Wrong. The only result is that we take away a substantial and important portion of our well-qualified minority student body.

Yet, in a demented way, proponents of this argument are correct. After all, was there much racial tension on campuses in the '40s and '50s? No, of course not. There was no racial integration either! But, the injustice of that situation has long been proven.

As racial integration destabilizes the status quo, tensions do increase. But admissions preferences are not the root of campus racism, bigotry, jealousy and cultural misunderstanding. These social ills long predate racial preferences in college admissions. Defeating affirmative action will not alleviate present racial tensions, it will merely sweep our virulent and persisting social problems under the political and legal rug. Measures moving toward a resegregated University and society only increase exclusion, tension and racism.

While protecting our individual rights, we must maintain a vision of a collectively responsible, productive and all-inclusive University community and society. Do not foreclose the possibilities of improved American race relations in the name of individualistic "out of sight, out of mind" politics.

Kevin Oberdorfer
RC senior


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