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October 01, 1967 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-01

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Seventy-Seven Years of Editorial Freedom

The Silencers Kill Their Image

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Where Opinions Are Free, 420 MAYNARD ST.,ANN ARBOR, MICH7.
Truth Will Prevail

NEWS PHONE: 764-0552

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



tate Board of Education
Prepares for the Farce

ised a chance to influence the state's
higher education planning policies, but
their work may not be worth the effort.
Six University students are to be in-
cluded in a 50 member advisory commit-
tee to recommend necessary changes in
a draft of b the State Plan for Higher
Education. The plan's directors are anx-
ious to hear what students have to say
and claim, the draft will be totally re-
written if the committee asks major re-
The plan would give the State Board
of Education the authority to adminis-
ter the addition of new devisions or de-
gree programs at any of the state's 11
public colleges and universities. Its thrust
is currently to avoid time-consuming
controversies such as those the Univer-
sity encountered when it added its Flint
campus. The state board is to refer to
the plan's uniform policy in deciding the
advisability of college's curriculum
The student advisors could conceivably
enter a stipulation that administrations
must consult with student representatives
before important program changes are
instituted. But unless those selected have
intimate acquaintance with the adminis-
trative problems, and have a great deal
of time to spend on the program, their
work would likely be to rubber stamp
the work of advisory committees already
in operation.
THE PLAN has a history of inaction,
and although it had once been sched-
uled for completion in early 1966, it now
will not be in a form ready for legisla-
tive approval before February 15, 1968.
Some of the delay has stemmed from the
exacting caution which the program's
planners have taken in every step, but
most of it can be attributed to ineffi-
ciency and inadequate foresight.
The student committee is a good ex-
ample. One of the planners spent a great
deal of time last spring personally con-
tacting student leaders, and asking them
to prepare a list of criterion for selection
of student advisors. Unfortunately when
he called for the lists, he found that most
of them have graduated or are no longer
in their organizations.

The committee members are to be se-
lected by student organizations; plans
call for their organization by the middle
of October. Since arrangements have
not yet been madoe, however, the process
could be delayed indefinitely.
BUT THE EXISTING planning groups
have been the source of the long-
est delays. The advisory committees, com-
posed on a voluntary basis for faculty
members, administrators, legislators and
economic specialists, recently collected
the needs of their interests in a state plan
and submitted them to a study steering
committee. The process took six to eight
months for each committee, although
their selection processes go back as much
as a year and a half. The four basically
incompatible views are being collated in-
to a single set of policies.
The theory is that everyone will be
satisfied with the finished product, but
this theory may have merely watered
down the plan. Most of the planners are
scattered all over the state and most had
never worked together before. Several
months were consumed before most had
a good orientation on their function.
AN INTERESTING speculation is that
the universities have been attempting
to hold back such a plan. The adminis-
trative committee appeared anxious to
have something to fall back on when
they are deciding their needs for new
programs, but universities are decidedly
defensive about threats to their planning
Of course, if the universities refuse to
abide by the plan, there is currently no
force behind the state board's authority.
The plan could then be nothing more
than a two and a half year exercise in
It is important, then, that when stu-
dents eventually are allowed to review
the plan, that they do not blindly ac-
cept it either as a panacea for con-
flicts or a vehicle for gaining student
power. If the plan is to have any signifi-
cance, at all, it must receive a sober re-
view from students who can put aside
biases and can afford to spend a great
deal of time in the process.

WONDER WHAT REALLY went on at the Regents
meeting two weeks ago?
You're not the only one.
But it's best that you remain patient because you're
probably not going to find out until after Christmas.
The reason is that official minutes of the Regents meet-
ing are not released until about five months afterwards.
It's all part of one of the University's most serious
problems - the school is far too secretive for its own
good. From top to bottom the school maintains a tight-
lipped policy that is the heart of a serious campus com-
munications problem.
TAKE THE REGENTS meetings for example. All.
business is actually conducted during closed sessions on
Thurdsay and Friday morning. An hour-long public
meeting at 2 p.m. is a predictably boring show that
either omits or slides over controversial areas.
To make matters worse there's an interminable wait
for the minutes. The Regents themselves see the minutes
in "Press Proof" form - a month later. They make ap-
propriate corrections, but the final corrected form us-
ually takes another four months to produce. What's
the University's explanation? "The printing office is
very slow," says an official."
The situation with the faculty is similar. University
Senate, Faculty Assembly and Senate Advisory Com-
mittee on University Affairs meetings are also closed
to the press.
EQUALLY SIGNIFICANT is the way the University
handles reporters who have scoops. Last year, for ex-
ample, The Daily came across a defense department re-
port declaring that the school is basically "for rich
white students!" The administration had been keeping
the report secret.
When The Daily went to University officials, there
was "no comment." When the story was published Execu-
tive Vice-President Marvin Niehuss said it should "not
have been made public." But, since the report was going
to be printed anyway, wouldn't the school have come
out looking better if the administration owned up to

the facts and commented frankly on what it planned
to do about the discrimination problem?
VICE-PRESIDENT for University Relations Michael
Radock, formerly with the Ford Motor Co. public rela-
tions staff might do well to take a cue from his old
employer. There public relations officials feel it best
to own up to the facts when the reporter knows what's
For example if a reporter calls Ford and asks for
confirmation on the purchaseof a new South American
subsidary, Ford's response is to go ahead and break the
story to all media. Since one paper is going to print the
story anyway its to Ford's advantage to see that its own
release and comments are available. That way it can
get its story out straight for everyone.
Of course no one is suggesting that the University
should be run like Ford. But the businessmen do have
the right idea There. Cover-ups, denials, and angry blasts
at "irresponsible" papers that break news Is old-fash-
ioned public relations. In the long run it's best to be
straight forward.
a legitimate reason to ask a paper to withhold news.
For example, last fall Vice-President for Academic Af-
fairs Allen F. Smith asked The Daily not to break a
story it had picked up on the new computer network
between the University, Michigan State and Wayne. His
reasoning was that the MSU and Wayne boards hadn't
approved the proposal and that premature publicity
might scrap the whole project. In return he agreed to
give The Daily first release on the final story ahead of
other papers.
Reluctantly The Daily agreed to cooperate, the pro-
gram was announced, and The Daily got no scoop at
all, but a news release along with every other paper.
Smith scored a shrewd coup but certainly didn't win
any new friends.
To be sure the University has made some effort to
improve communications.
And sometimes it seems as if the University takes
an overly paternalistic view of its faculty when it comes

to news. For example in the University Record, a fort-
nightly hand-out, Vice-president Raddock warns that
". .in talking to student reporters faculty members
may wish to keep in mind that they may at the same
time be talking with a representative of a national wire
service, newspaper, magazine, or television or radio
station . . . Remarks made in the context of the Uni-
versity community may be misunderstood or misinter-
preted outside that context . . . the potential audience
(should) be recognized."
It appears that a change in attitude is called for.
Basically its time the University lifts the veil of
secrecy. Communication would be increased, newspaper
reporting would be more thorough and the admin-
istration would find its own image improving.
THERE ARE SEVERAL practical suggestions. One
is that the Regents might consider releasing their
agenda to the student press. At Michigan State Univer-
sity a copy of the Regent's agenda goes to the student
paper. Only sensitive financial information is omitted.
Secondly the Regent's should open their meetings as
is done in Wisconsin. At the University of Wisconsin
there only discussions of "a personnel item" or property
can be closed. In effect then the day long meeting is
If Regents meetings were opened here students might
become far more sympathetic to the board. After all
its hard to put full trust in a public governing body
that won't let you see what's going on, or even find out
about it until five months later.
Thirdly the University relations staff should review
its policies on releases. Keeping quiet does not keep
things out of the paper. But full cooperation might en-
sure that the administration point of view is more fully
reflected in the press. After all its hard to get across the
viewpoint of someone who won't talk to you.
Finally the faculty groups should consider opening
their meetings. There is a bright spot here, the student
relations committee has open meetings, and a faculty
group has indicated willingness to have a frank dis-
cussion of the matter. It's an important start.




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Voices in the Wilderness


NEXT WEEK the Voices of Civilization
will meet the Voices in the Wilderness.
The juxtaposition of the climax of ses-
quicentennial brouhaha with the Uni-
versity's first multi-issue teach-in will
display two exceedingly disparate phil-
osophies of event planning. .
Despite last minute cancellations by
Eugene Ionesco and Hannah Arendt, the
University has managed to lure to Ann
Arbor a somewhat glittering array of in-
tellects and famous names to primarily
deliver commencement-like addresses.
So far this year the dominant theme
of the much-ballyhooed and little-re-
membered sesquicentennial conferences
has been antiseptic politeness. For the
University, as befitting an institution of
its stature, has gone to extreme lengths
to shelter visiting dignitaries from any
traumatic encounters with students.
HE BEST EXAMPLE of this stultify-
ing attitude was provided during last
March's alumni festivities, cleverly
scheduled to coincide with spring vaca-
tion. However, despite the absence of the
bulk of the student body, the Univer-
sity felt insecure enough to attempt to
eliminate controversy by demanding that
The Daily is a member of the Associated Press and
collegiate Press Service.
Fall and winter subscription rate: $4.50 per term by
carrier ($5 by mail); $8.00 for regular academic school
year ($9 by mail).
Daily except Monday during regular academic school
Daily except Sunday and Monday during regular
summer session.
Second class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Michigan,
420 Maynard St, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48104.
Editorial Staff

all questions for Senator Philip Hart
and House Minority Leader Gerald Ford
be submitted in advance, thus precipitat-
ing an epic hassle with some members
of Voice.
It is unlikely that a University which
is willing to censor questions for Michi-
gan politicians will fail to grant the same
courtesy to such eminent cold warriors
as Dean Acheson and Edwin Reischauer.,
A repetition of such a policy of question
screening will merely indicate that the
University is far more concerned with
the maintenance of its public imagethan
it is with the education of its students.
ON THE OTHER HAND the whole pur-
pose of the teach-in is to generate
controversy. The plan is to bring together
experts on Vietnam, the Third World
and the urban crisis, put them in a room
together, and let the sparks fly where
they may.
Co-sponsorship of the teach-in by such
groups as the Young Republicans and
the Student Government Council will un-
doubtedly broaden its base and ensure
the representation of mainstream as well
as left bank viewpoints.
The spontaniety and controversy of
next Wednesday night's teach-in will
more than amply compensate for the
lack of these vital ingredients in the
University's otherwise lavishly mounted
sesquicentennial celebration.
'THE PEOPLE of America who sent us
here are patient-but they are not
docile. . . . Our national spirit and unity
are not expendable. The public confi-
dence cannot be taken for granted etern-
ally. I tell you-and I say this carefully

A GM Executi~ve Tries to Communicate


Associate Managing Editor
city of Detroit-a very special
time of the year. Like Fall, like
the changing of the seasons, you
can feel it in the air. It's part of
what one writer describing the
affectionbetween the American
public and the automobile, has
called the great American love af-
". . . It is also a time of great
expectancy for us, we still have
to find out how acceptable our
cars are to the people who will
become customers."
So read the letter of welcome
presented to twenty-five student
editors from across the country
by E. M. Estes, vice-president of
General Motors and general man-
ager of the Chevrolet division.
The students were in Detroit last
week for an experimental "Stu-
dent Editors Preview" of the new
NO ONE WAS sure of why they
were there or what was going to
happen. Curiosity filled the air.
Dozens of people from Chevrolet,
General Motors and Chevrolet's
advertising agency, Campbell-
Ewald Company, wondered what
they were in for-what questions
would be asked, and what reac-
tions would they get from twenty-
five articulate members of a gen-
eration which believes you can't
trust anyone over thirty. Twenty-
five college editors wondered what
they would see and why Chevro-
lot was nutting onn the exnensive

who attended, though some added,
"the opportunity to meet with the
other editors, and the chance to
see Detroit."
In a car that greeted several edi-
tors at Metropolitan Airport, the
riders were entertained by a ster-
eo tape deck blaring ... "This land
s your land, this land is my land
." Then, "See the USA in your
Chevrolet . .."
id Davis, Jr., a senior editor of Car
and Driver magazine and a con-
sultant to Campbell-Ewald, re-
minded us that the automobile was
invented to get the farmer from
the barn to the silo," and has be-
come a central pillar of the Amer-
ican economy. He advises that we
view with caution the "annual fer-
tility rites" of the automobile in-
Later, some of us returned to the
conversation that had preceded it
-discussions of why we had come,
what we expected and what we
thought Chevrolet expected of us.
Others preferred to bridge the ten-
block gap between the plush hotel
and Twelfth Street.
OUR HOSTS were quick to em-
phasize that no obligations were
tied to our attendance. They were
interested in interacting with the
collegiate press, showing us their
products and facilities, and seeing
how we reacted. What questions
would we ask and what, if any-
thing, would we run in our news-
papers-that's all they wanted.
Still we wondered what they
mraraitvinr fom 1Cnw rm prp, w

We eventually found ourselves
in the midst of Chevrolet's six
lines of new cars. Scattered around
them were public relations and
"product information" men to an-
swer our questions. Now, the cars
filled our minds. It was like a car-
nival; the world had become one
big automobile showroom.
We then boarded a bus, and
passed a building complex which
cost over $100 million dollars to
build, less than .001 per cent of
General Motors' profits over the
fifteen year period in which it was
built, a PR man told us. He des-
cribed the 800 acres of buildings,
grass and man-made lakes as we
passed one of the many putting
WE ENTERED the styling build-
ing and went upstairs to the office
of William Mitchell, vice-president
in charge of the styling staff. As
he briefly described what was go-
ing on in the rest of the building,
fifty eyes in the room were observ-
ing the expense and luxury of a
GM executive suite.
Mitchell seemed very interested
in talking to us and answering our
questions. "I've been trained to
think that to be unprogressive is
to be immoral," he was saying.
"People who drive Volkswagens
just don't like cars."
During the tour of the stulying
building which followed, thoughts
of social issues returned. "Right
now, these people are deciding
what the car I drive in 1971 will
look like. Is what they're produc-
ing going to be what I want or will
their e,+duiciv ntnvtino ma that

in the bounds of economics," Es-
tes said in answer to a question
about the introduction of safety
features. "We have to sell car,
too, you know."
AND THIS was the point of our
being there.
Chevrolet sells cars, lots of cars,
every year. But they've been sell-
ing them to our parents' genera-
tion. That's why' we were there.
The market is changing.
Estes explained that 30 million
Americans are now between the
ages of 16 and 25 with over half
the United States population is
under 27. According to Estes, our
age group buys 41 per cent of the
Cameros sold, 29 per cent of the
Mustangs and 30 per cent of the
Chevelles. Chevrolet is the sales
leader of the auto industry, but
they're worried about us. They're
like the politicians who are focus-
ing their appeals on youth: they've
won with our parents but there is
a new, more powerful electorate
coming of age. They want to be
sure they can get our votes, too.
Chevrolet people had different
sets of priorities. Estes was ready
to answer any question that came
up about the new cars but he just
wasn't prepared to answer many of
the questions college editors were
Does the automobile manufac-
turer have a moral responsibility
to make his product as safe as
possible, given crowded highways
and human drivers who can make

"Our people are very active in
civic affairs. We've got people on
the Chamber of Commerce, and
on numerous committees."
"BUT, DO THEY contribute to
education? Do they make scholar-
ships available?"
"Any colored boy or white man
-we don't discriimnate against
the white man, either-who wants
to upgrade himself is given the
opportunity to do so . . . through
scholarships, fully paid tuition,
leaves of absence, night school."
"Colored boy and white man?"
a student editor asked.
"Yes, colored boy and white
man," Estes repeated, not because
he is a bigot, but because he didn't
understand what he was saying.
The vice president in charge of
the styling staff says "it's a great
way to make a living" and its easy
to see why. Second class class
looks comfortable and buzzing
around in shiney new cars, espe-
cially new Corvettes.
Campbell-Ewald's director of
p u b 1i c relations, considerably
younger, puts it a little differently.
"I have to make a living," he says,
as he sits in a St. Regis Hotel
suite and loosens his silk tie. "But,
you have to try to change. things
from the inside . .. with programs
like this . . .. If you can't make
it with one company you move on
to another."
ASIDE FROM THE publicity
value 'of putting new cars on
twenty-five campuses across the
country, the "Student Editors Pre-
view" won't have much material




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