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January 25, 1968 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-01-25

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Seventy-Seven Years of Editorial Freedom

Where Opinions Are Free, 420 MAYNARD ST., ANN ARBOR, MICH.
Truth Will Prevail

NEWS PHONE: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Publie Housing:
Anywhere But Ann Arbor'

J'HE CRISIS Ann Arbor faces as it pre-
pares to accept or reject the Housing
Commission's proposal for 200 low-rent
public housing units throughout the city
is one of conscience..
By going ahead with the plan, City
Council will liberate improverished fam-
ilies from dilapidated dwellings and pro-
vide them with $3.6 million in attractive
apartments they can afford to rent. By
turning from the plan, City Council may
condemn the entire project to death -
and shut the doors once and for all on
citizens who cannot cope with Ann Ar-
bor's staggering cost of living.
Public housing is in trouble because
nobody seems to want it. Present plans
which call for building and purchasing
200 units on seven sites, are broad
enlough to threaten the residents of seven
different locations.
Some sincere and concerned citizens
at Monday's open hearing justifiably
condemned the Housing Commission for
lack of sociological insight. As proof, they
cited the plans to locate three 39-unit
sites within a single square mile.
BUT MOST OTHER critics at the hear-
ing took an entirely different tack.
Clustering the three sites together, they
charged, will doom the surrounding
neighborhoods to social decay and des-
pair -- not to mention preventing low
income families from effectively as-
similating into the healthier middle
class neighborhoods.
What they really tried to say, how-
ever, was masked in the rhetoric of social
politesse. That message is, simply, pub-
lic housing is a fine thing. But not for
Ann Arbor. And certainly not for my
The message came through when a
young doctor praised Ann Arbor's image
as the "All-American city," claiming,
"This ypublic housing will be the first
tarnishing of that image." The message
came through in the housewife's plea,
"Give us few enough (low-income fam-
ilies) so we with outreached hands can
help them. Do not overwhelm us." It
came through when a woman warned
"Business near the three sites will not
be as pleasureable anymore." And the
message came through a citizen's gloomy

predicitions of garbage in the streets, de-
cl ne in property values, and ultimately,
creation of an ugly ghetto.
THE REMEDY, citizens stressed, lies in
buying more sites and building fewer
units on each site.
Suen homeowners are less concerned
with the number of families moving into
their P rea than they are frightened by
the incomes and color of the new resi-
Objective appraisal of public housing
projects throughout the nation clearly in-
dicates that cluster housing does notj
aiways spell failure. Successful housing
developments in Philadelphia, New Ha-
vea, and Cleveland, cluster over 100 units
as the rule, not the exception. In view
of the limited feasible alternitives, what's
wrong with the plan in Ann Arbor?
ALMOST THREE YEARS of struggling
for public housing tell the story. Ann
Arborites voted to establish a' public
housing commission in 1965 by only a
three per cent majority, so enthusiasm
was scarce to begin with. When Mayor
Hulcher appointed a commission of four
businessmen and one housewife, public
housing advocates prepared themselves
for the worst. And that, say some, city
officials, is exactly what they got.
Ann Arbor could have a better hous-
ing plan, but since the city must begin
construction by June 30 or lose federal
funds, there is no time to provide it. Ann
Arbor lost its chance for a better proposal
in 1965 when Mayor Hulcher appointed
a commission only half-committed to the
task. Furthermore, Ann Arbor lost its
chance for more public housing when
the city council refused a federal offer
of 464 units and asked instead for 200.
But all this is past history, and Ann
Arbor faces the crisis now. If a special
delegation to Washington can, as some
have suggested, win more money and an
extension of time, it should certainly try.
UNLESS AND UNTIL the promise comes,
however, Ann Arbor must work to pro-
vide low-rent public housing for the poor
under the proposal it currently has. Any-
thing less will mean no public housing
at al:.

Editorial Director
SO MUCH attention has been
focused on the area of student
behavior and decision-making that
education itself has been virtually
overlooked. The college steering
committees and course evaluation
group operate in virtual obscurity,
over shadowed by the publicized
power machinations of student
government and their allies.
Of course, many of these groups
dealing with curricular reform
have been disappointing in their
performance and rather silent
about any achievements. Yet the
need for improving the classroom
experience ,is as important 'as the
recent advances in dorm living.
Now that students have so effec-
tively flexed their new-found
muscles in the University com-
munity, the problems of educa-
tional quality deserve more con-
cerned and active study.
There are now several experi-
ments at the University that sup-
ply the possibility of exciting new
educational techniques. They run
the gamut from the much-hailed
Residential College, now completing
its first year, to the already en-
trenched Honors Program, which
in the last few years has begun to
strike out independently with
broad curricular innovations. All
these prospects for improvement
deserve carefuly study:
" The ResidentialnCollege is
really not a new concept at all,
but rather a nostalgic search for
the kind of personalization and in-
timacy that higher education of-
fered before the swelling post-war
numbers. It is an answer to the
increasing criticism about "big-
ness" and offers, perhaps, the close
familiarity and faculty associa-
tions of an Amherst or Williams
with the imposing facilities and
diversity of a huge multiversity,
instead of the small New England
The Residential College concept,
which is being tried at a number
of other large universities around
the nation, comes under sharp fire
from legislators and education-ef-
ficiency buffs, who correctly argue
that the Residential College, in its
present form, is an inordinate al-
location of faculty resources which
deprives other students of the at-
tention that the RC participants
THE ULTIMATE worth of the
Residential College hinges on a
critical evaluation of the present
undergraduate education. If stu-
dents are not really being chal-
lenged, stimulated, educated, then
the money and time being invested

in the Residential College experi-
ment are necessary. And as the
rising tide of discontent focuses
on many of the academic aber-
rations created by universities
growing too big too fast, the ur-
gency of new educational answers
becomes apparent.
The Residential College may not
be the final solution to the inade-
quacies of undergraduate educa-
tion. There are simply not enough
resources-at least with the prior-
ites our nation now has-to give
every freshman a small seminar
in every class with a professor liv-
ing down the hall. But it presents
a workable alternative of restruc-
turing the university to provide a
more stimulating environment; it

the limits of the computerized time
WHILE NONE of this is truly
radical reform, such changes may
eventually filter throughout the
literary college, offering all stu-
dents the opportunities now en-
joyed by honors pupils. And as the
Honors Program itself grows
stronger and its student steering
committee increases in influence,
the program can become an excel-
lent workshop for innovations on
the curricular scene.
0 Interdepartmental Courses
are beginning to pop up here and
there, such as the "College Hon-
ors" courses that presently exist
in departmental limbo. The basic

most abundant, more independent
student-professor summer courses
are arising which permit the pair
to work out a subject area that
the student wishes to investigate.
This system will most often cre-
ate fruitful results, for it coun-
ters the distasteful threat of a
summer academic load with the
student's personal interest and
involvement in the course's cre-
4 Pass-Fail Grading offers
students an opportunity to exper-
iment in strange academic fields
without the danger of puncturing
the mystical grade-point. These
courses are usually chosen be-
cause of a special interest, and
therefore are not easy victims for

which only now shows signs of
possible stability, is evidence of
what can happen if the students
do not take the iniative in cru-
sading for their "rights" to a
quality education. It is not that
the education here is bad, but
rather the machinery for con-
stant improvement must be in
operation, and, as with so much
else, the job of watchdog will fall
upon student shoulders.
The second threat to academ-
ic innovation is administrative
disinterest. If the administrators
become more concerned with the
cost-efficiency aspects of educa-
tion than its ultimate affect on a
student's life, the University's
academic quality will begin to suf-



- H:L


The Planned Residential College: Martyr To Cost-Efficiency?

also is an ideal laboratory for ex-
perimenting with new curricular
changes {RC now has a freshman
schedule substantially different
from the first-year literary college
! The Honors Program is, de-
spite its elitist composition, blazing
the trail for innovations that can
be transferred, if not extended, to
the remaining 90 per cent of the
literary college. While the "honors
concentration" sphere of the pro-
gram varies in quality between de-
partments and individual coun-
selors, the special honors courses
have bridged the gap which tra-
ditional departmentalization has
caused. Thus, small seminars are
offered on a range of topics from
Nietzsche to Fitzgerald and from
American Self-evaluation to Revo-
lution. In addition, the student
can take "independent study"
courses with the guidance of pro-
fessors, pursuing interests outside

inhibiting factor presently seems
to be the computer, which appar-
ently regurgitates the schedules
of those who trespass department-
al boundaries. The 15-hour inner-
city course, which is planned for
next year, is one attempt to shat-
ter strict lines of college author-
cently proposed was the creation
of an "Interdepartmental Depart-
ment," which would-pardon the
excesses-departmentalize the de-
partmentless courses. Perhaps by
institutionaling the mutant, stu-
dents would be more aware of the
availability of those interesting but
sometimes forbidden half-breed
course offerings.
0 Summer Reading Courses are
finding wider acceptance, but
still suffer from their novelty and
the lingering doubt of their ef-
fectiveness. W h11e structured
summer reading courses are the

the student who wishes to whiz
through without involving him-
self at all. Begun as a limited ex-
periment, pass-fail grading has
spread to more classes, and should
soon become an opportunity
available to all University stu-
tained some of the more notable
educational "experiments" now
contemplated or in progress here.
Their success is as important as
any victories won on the battle-
fields of student-administration
The greatest threats to ex-
panding these academic innova-
tions and creating new ones come
from two sources. The first pit-
fall may be the students them-
selves, who can easily fall vic-
tim to indifference in the pursuit
of a better education. The long
and sad history of the Univer-
sity's course evaluation booklet,

fer. For example, the Residential
College's fiscally rocky beginning
has led to speculation that per-
haps it will be a victim to the
bureaucratic axe.
THE FUTURE of a vibrant aca-
demic environment here hinges
on an understanding, by all stu-
dents, faculty, and the new ad-
ministration, that education is at
the basis the University. And
education, despite the term's
vagueness and abstraction, must
not be interpreted in numbers, in
ratios, in percentages.
"No university can develop in
sensible ways," wrote Cornell's
President James K. Perkins, "un-
less a general consensus has been
achieved at the heart of its in-
stitutional life among those con-
cerned with its future." On the
issue of educational excellence,
there must be no compromise in
the consensus.



Is Pass-Fail Safe?

YOU MAY REALLY try to beat the sys-
tem, but at times it seems as if you
just can't.
Take grades, for example. You may
sign up for a pass-fail course, but in the
end you end up studying for a letter grade
as if it really counted.
At least from the results of a study of
the first group of seniors who took
courses on a pass-fail basis, it seems that
the student is a creature of "grade-grub-
bing" habit.
The study, conducted by Charles Pas-
cal for the Center for Research on Learn-
ing and Teaching, indicated that the vast
majority of students taking pass-fail
courses would have otherwise received
A's or B's in the courses.
THAT STUDENTS fared so well in the
pass-fail program is surprising. One
would expect that the second semester
senior, even if he is a "good student"
ridden with a "high level of test anxiety,"
would be seeking maximum knowledge
while expending a minimum of effort.
But as Pascal reported in a subjective
analysis of his data, the student did not
prove "adept" at beating the system this
way. While making a last ditch effort to
"liberalize" his education the senior still
felt compelled to achieve a good grade.
Pascal explained that perhaps one
tends "to underestimate the effects of
about eight or more years of academic
conditioning. Even though the idea of
getting a C in a pass-fail course brings
about a sense of relief, an A or B student
has little experience in studying for C's."
So it appears that the student can't
beat the grading system, simply because
he doesn't know how to function without
the system of rewards or punishments
called grades.

signed to free the student from the "fear"
of grades. But experience shows, pass-
fail is unable to dispel the unhealthy
notion that to be valuable, learning must
be "academically successful."
The student on pass-fail-as well as
the ordinary student-feels that a suc-
cessful grade is the only measure of aca-
demic progress.
Pass-fail courses, since they are like
all the other courses at the University,
demand that the student fulfill require-
ments and meet goals. And while, re-
quirements and goals are essential to rote
learning, they are incompatible with the
creative learning that pass-fail was con-
ceived to inspire.
IT IS EXPECTING too much to hope
that pass-fail might revolutionize the
grading philosophy of the University. But
it is ignoring the potential of a pass-fail
program to relegate it to the role of
"grading innovation."
Pass-fail was never designed to be the
mechanics which would free undergrad-
uate education from its inordinate em-
phasis on grades. And the institution of
some pass-fail grading here should not
deter others from seeking more adven-
turous approaches to altering the phi-
losophy behind undergraduate education.
Despite its less than radical nature,
pass-fail grading is not being utilized
nearly as much as possible here at the
University. By arranging for freshmen to
f alfill their distribution requirements on
a pass-fail basis, by planning pass-fail
sections geared to the non-specialist, and
by concentrating on offering a truly
liberal education for students who want
one, the University could become a more
intellectually stimulating environment.
AND MEANWHILE, as Student Govern-'

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ON BOOKS: The Making of a Podhoretz

Magazine Editor
MakingIt, by Norman Podhor-
etz, Random House, 1968. 360 pp.
written a strangely embar-
rassing book in "Making It."
More than anything else it is an
exercise in guilt, for he realizes
that at 39 he wants what every-
body else does - fame and for-
tune - and that the spirit of his
intellectual soul is a lot less dif-
ferent from that of the bourgeois
rank-and-file than he -had been
bred to believe. So "Making It"
comes through as a try at self-
therapy as he attempts to ex-
plain, probably more to himself
than his reader, why it's okay
that he wants what he does and
how it doesn't compromise his

what the old era of critics writes
continues to lose relevance. This
is, of course, an overstatement,
but the truth of the matter is
that, other than The New York
Review of Books, there are few
major publications doing serious
work that still have verve.
Whichmaybe is why Podhor-
etz' autobiography is lacking. He
too seems to lack verve, but this
is appropriate since magazines
strongly reflect the personality of
their editor. He portrays himself
with an air of innocence that, in
the end, seems by its purity to be
an admission of calculated guile.
It becomes irritating after a
while, for he can't understand
how anybody could possibly mis-
construe or resent his success
since it was motivated by such
a guiltless conscience. Allthe
time he is waging the battle of

student worthy of personal atten-
tion, and he progresses on from
teacher to teacher. At Columbia
Lionell Trilling, the eminent lit-
erary critic, picks him up, and
then Podhoretz gets a fellowship
to study at Cambridge. He re-
turns to New York as a bright
young comer in its literary world.
He makes his reputation on the
basis of a review, a critical one,
of Bellow's "Augie March". The
review was startling and upset-
ting to the New York World, for
Bellow was the family's (as Pod-
horetz describes the largely Jew-
ish in-group of critics and edi-
tors) prodigal son, their 'white
hope' who was competing for the
heavyweight championship of
fiction. It is revealing that Pod-
horetz writes of how he deliber-
ated before submitting the article,
wondering if he should temper

be it is because deep-down he
doesn't feel so clean.
The book is dull. The ideas are
few and when he writes of per-
sonalities, it is as if he is drawing
his portraits with the felt-tip
pens currently in vogue. The
strokes are broad and thick,
hardly acute or penetrating. He
is praising in a most casual man-
ner and is not bitter or outraged
towards anybody really, except
his unnamed adversary on Com-
HE DOES take on James Bald-
win, telling how he had talked
through with Baldwin the idea
for a piece on Black Muslims, en-
couraged him to do it and kept
his spirits high. Then, when
Baldwin finally finished what
was to be "A Letter from a Re-
gion of My Mind" ("The Fire

them down. Which, of course, he
BUT THE New York World -
where the action is and where
the writers as concerned with be-
ing celebrities as concerned with
writing want to be - finally re-
duces itself down to a trip to
Huntington Hartford's Paradise
Island for Podhoretz. There he
sunned and dined and drank with
the beautiful and famous, since
he ,was invited by virtue of his
contributions to Hartford's Show
Magazine. And there he decided
that the good life wasn't so bad
after all, and maybe it was what
he always dreamed secretly of
having. There is nothing inher-
ently bad about such a realiza-
tion. Just that Podhoretz had to
feel that he had come up with
some great revelation in discov-

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