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April 03, 1970 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-04-03

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PsFi LSA inaction

committee has once again postponed
a review of pass-fail grading. Its reasons
for doing so are actually excuses which
cover a reluctance to deal with the issue.
The committee began discussions on
pass-fail grading over a month ago, a
study which is a year-and-a-half over-
dlue. In 1966 the committee approved the
present pass-fail policy with the under-
standing that it would be reviewed within
two years. The policy allows upperclass-
men in the literary school to elect one
course per semester pass-fail that is not
part of their major concentration or ful-
filling distribution requirements.
The discussions resulted in approval of
/a proposal by economics Prof. Dan Fus-
feld to employ pass-fail as a "test" case,
with the nderstanding that the review
would not be resumed until the effects of
pass-fail in that course could be evaluat-
ed. That means the review will not be un-
dertaken again for another year and a
]alf, perhaps two years.
The committee's stated reason for do-
ing this was that it felt it didn't have
enough information to adequately eval-
uate pass-fail; and thought Fusfeld might
be able to provide data.
BUT THE ACTION was made hurridely
and seemed more a result of pressures
to decide what to do with Fusfeld's pro-
posal and a general policy for pass-fail
grading. Committee members f o u n d
themselves talking in circles the entire
month of discussion, becoming more and
moie discouraged and reluctant to deal
with the implications of pass-fail, and
not knowing whether they wanted to em-
ploy pass-fail throughout the school, not
at all, or continue with the old policy.
The easiest solution was to get rid of the
issues in one lump, and as Fusfeld was so
'enthusiastic, refusing him was out of the
Hwever, the way Fusfeld intends to
employ pass-fail will hardly serve as an
adequate test. He intends to grade stu-
dent's papers and exams with the stand-
ard A-E grade and then convert the fi-
nal grade to a 'p' or If' at the end of the
term. The conditions the students will be
working under will resemble those of the
traditional grading system more t h a n
A chief criticism of the traditional A-E
grading, and one pointed ot to the com-
mittee by Fusfeld, is that it gives stu-
dents the wrong signals about their role
in the learning process. Critics say stu-
dents focus their attention on bidding for
grades rather than really exploring the
subject material, Students evaluate their
learning experience in terms of deadlines
and grading scales instead of how they've
achieved their own goals for a subject.
They answer the professor's questions
in order toget the grade. This situation
creates a second problem, that students
quite often don't view teachers as advis-
ors, confidents, or co-learners, but as the
man wielding the power, dangling t h e
carrot or wielding the stick, depending
on student and circumstance.
Committee chairman Shaw Livermore
repeatedly responded to this argument
with the suggestion that perhaps compe-
tition and learning do go hand in hand.
Perhaps a competetive situation r e a 11 y
does provide the more effective learning

THIS ANSWER, however, is far from the
mark. The committee interprets the
potential value of pass-fail grading as
serving to provide a less tense learning
environment. The larger potential f o r
pass-fail is that it can aid in redefining
learning for students who have lost touch
with the meaning of their studies by fo-
cusing on the carrot. Students must be
able to study on their own time and ac-
cording to their own terms if study is to
be meaningful to them. The committee
seemed totally unaware of this signifi-
cance of the argument.
Thus under Fusfeld's plan, t h e stu-
dents will still be using the grading scale
as a guide for their learning, and it is a
guide they haye been using throughout
their education, such a change is n o t
bound to have a significant effect. This
point was brought up in one of the first
discussions, but was lost in the rush at
the last meeting.
The real reason for shelving the re-
view seems to be that the committee was
wary of dealing with the question of the
market value of pass-fail grades. During
discussions they repeatedly reached an
impass when it is suggested that students
having pass-fail grades on their tran-
scripts might have difficulty gaining ad-
mission to graduate schools. Graduate
schools use grade-point averages in addi-
tion to recommendations and graduate
record scores in determining admissions.
The committee members, again, seem-
ed to feel they didn't have enough infor-
mation. Putting off the decision was the
easiest solution, and one with a possible
bonus, for in two years another school
might have come up with the answer.
But a suggestion by Livermore that the
committee obtain information now from
other schools who have employed pass-
fail seemed to have little effect on the
committee. It seems the committee really
was in no rush to gather information to-
gether and (in view of the problem wijth
the econ 201-202 experiment) is 1 i t t 1 e
concerned about the relevancy of the in-
formation that is eventually obtained.
The committee's reluctance to set up
an effective evaluation of pass-fail is
condemning. But their inability to un-
derstand the issue, the reason behind the
conception of pass-fail grading, is more
revealing. Pass-fail grading should sim-
ply imply a w h o 1 e new definition of
learning "effectiveness," but instead they
attempted to use old criteria to judge the
values of the new. Such reasoning - that
a situation where fighting to meet the
scale of the system is more important
than individual goals for learning, where
learning is a contest rather than an ex-
ploration - validates accusations that
universities are factories for producing
fact-stuffed, well-adjusted vehicles for
corporate America.
PASS-FAIL grading is not the only ans-
wer. It won't instantly produce ideal
students, but it does help remove the mis-
leading guide t h a t traditional grading
helps give students.
It's a step in the right direction, for
its advocates have the realization that
public education need not be a well-oiled
conveyor belt. The curriculum committee
has shown that its interest lies with the
oil can, and not with the quality of the
education the college is producing.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The author is a
Professor in the Philosophy Depart-
TN THINKING about.the strike
... consider this: If we take
only the most ordinary morality
that we all profess and preach and
we say only that there should be
Equality and Justice-(nothing
more. Not anything high-strung
and controversial, but only these
gross and simple fundamentals)-
and if we for a moment make the
effort to take that seriously, a n d
try to remember what that might
really mean, what actual Equality
and Justice would require a n d
make mandatory-if we remember
that, how can we still debate and
argue over exactly what is "still"
and what already "no longer"
I mean, how can I, with my
comfortable coddled life, living in
my carpeted and art-stuffed six
room house, ask myself seriously:
will this much still be justified, or
will it go too far? We must be
mad! With two-thirds of t h e
world's population going hungry,
with children in Detroit freezing
in rags, comparing with their si-
lently astonished eyes their child-
hood with the childhood that we
had, we ask: how much is justi-
Can we not see that it is hope-
lessly and irreversible the other
way around? That nothing that
we could ever do from now on in
could possibly create a balance?
That our lives if they are held
against the life of a Brazilian
miner, or against the life of a
Nigerian peasant, or against the
life of anyone that grew up in
Harlem represent even now such
an immense excess that nothing
that we could undertake could
possibly suffice for the demands
of Justice? How can it not be
clear that it's requirements a r e
distinctly beyond what any of
us in practice and earnestness
might really do? That what we
have enjoyed up until now already
places us so far ahead of any
Apalachian child that we can
never go "beyond" what it would
be "right" and "fair" to do?
BUT IF that is so then just

what are we doing when we discuss
the "rightness" of this or that
"tactic"? Is it not clear that this
discussion takes place in a house
of cards? That that part of the
whole debate is artificially prop-
ped up and comes down with a
crash if we take but an honest
and hard look?
I don't want this to be mis-
understood, so let me be concrete.
Naturally, I too, as does every
one of us, worry about how far I
have a right to go. Have I the
right to call off my classes, or
should I meet them at my house?
In whht way should I react to
a disruption? I do debate this in
my mind and neatly go through
numerous pros and cons. B u t
after some of that I suddenly re-
member the children in Mexico
who sleep in the streets on pieces
of newspaper, or those in Detroit
that can show the places where
rats have bitten them at night
-and then I ask myself: Just what
exactly am I doing?
How can I even for a moment
pretend to myself that my adjudi-
cations between holding and not
holding a class are an honest piece
of thinking? How can I, if I do
believe in Justice and in Equality
and in Compassion-how can I
dare to set the claim of my group
of students, already so weighed
down with favors, already advant-
aged to such great excess-how
can I set their claim to one more
class (after fifteen years of class-
es) against the claim of even the
one single black child in Ypsi-
lanti who wants to come here and
might not get in. who so far has
had nothing, and who might be
destroyed if we refuse it? How can
I-believing in equality and earn-
ing yet a tidy $17 000 and for
what? for doing what I love!)-
think that I have something like a
right to teach, that I have yet
another right (no less!) to some-
thing more! How can I forget that
canceling a class or holding it are
both inadequate? That both fall
so short of what Justice would re-
quire that calling either "right" is
blind and unforgiveable?
To put 'it very clearly: I ack-
nowledge that I will (of course)
do much, much less than could be

morally defended, that really I am
only choosing betwen two ways of
compromising between what is
right and my conveneince, that in
reality I am only calculating just
how far short this time I will de-
cide to fall.
IE WE STAY with this perspec-
tive a moment longer, it becomes
clear that precisely the moral con-
demnation of all the things that
we with unanimity "deplore"
stands on the weakest ground. I
don't mean that I do not have ob-
jections. Of course I do. But they
are practical. "Trashing" is a
stupid, flagrantly counter-produc-
tive self-indulgence. It strengthens
and entrenches the forces of in-
justice and weakens and debili-
tates the energies that,,no matter
how feebly, try to correct it. I
have been furious with the stu-
dents for doing things that in
fact will only incrase the imbal-
ance-but morally "condemn"
them, that I cannot do. In fact,
sometimes it is more the other
way around.
Feeling that we all fall ever so
far short of what compassion and
justice would require of us, and
that we do fall short from a con-
cern for our skin and comfort. I
naturally must conclude that some
of the student's more drastic ac-
tions are superior to my own. If
they are wrong, it is not because
they go "too far" - if they are
wrong it is'only because their ac-
tions in fact do not bring us clos-
er to equality and justice. They
are tactically wrong, and often
they are even that only because
the powers of injustice are so
But what of the fact that this is
after all a University, a place ded-
icated to the pursuit of knowledge
where people must have the free-
dom to inouire, and the freedom
to teach? Must not these freedoms
be protected since without them
this kind of institution and every-
thing we value about it simply can-
not exist? Must we not defend
the very basis of the life that we
all live?
I am not insensitive to the an-
guish of that question, but let me
ask: What is th final basis of the

insistence that the University is
somehow "different" and "spec-
ial?" The University must be a
sanctuary given over to the search
for knowledge, then a simple pic-
ture comes into my mind. Imagine
a man, alone in a room, reading,
so as to acquire knowledge. That
is fine. But it is one thing. Now
imagine the same man, still read-
ing, but' this time he is n o t
alone. In a corner stands a bed
with someone on it who is sick.
who maybe has a fever and is
thirsty, and the man who reads
says: "look, you may be sick, but
I am after knowledge, which is
pretty sacred, so I can't be both-
ered." How much like that man
are we? And just what are the
privileges that we should accord
to the acquisition and the spread
of knowledge?
It seems plain that -knowledge
had to be protected when it was
still a thin green sproutling, ex-
posed to fearful weather. B u t
now knowledge is an industry, a
factory with smoke-stacks. Also,
knowledge used to be mainly "de-
tached" and therefore "pure."
Now that, too, is different. Most
of it, now, is nothing if it has
no "applications", and that means
consequences. So maybe some of
our old conceptions need revising?
ON THE FACE of it, it is any-
thing but clear to me how some
man in his laboratory whose life
is already full of privileges and
endowments justifies his right to
discover something that m a y
burn us all to cinders. His free-
dom compared to that of any
peasant is already so gargantuan
that abridging it a little really
doesn't seem so prob ematic. And
in some ways that toes also for
the rest of us. Are our faces quite,
quite straight when we invoke the
"sanctity of our classroom?" We,
decked out already with incom-
parable privileges feel that what
we do in our lectures is no less
than "sacred"? And we are not
too embarrassed to say this in
the name of "freedom." to step on
that idea so as to give us grpat-
er elevation? How much of this is
really petulant irresponsibility, the
indignation of a spoiled elite that
insists even on its whimsies?

But of course those who insist
on the freedom to teach, and the
freedom to inquire often are not
motivated by personal and private
considerations. Often they fear for
these ideals because of the social
consequences, of the general de-
terioration, that would f o 11 a w
their destruction. In short, it is
fascism they dread. Only a fool
would take this lightly. And I do
not. 'I lived as a half-Jew in Aus-
tria during the Nazi period and
have experienced fascism first-
hand. Thirteen members of my
family died in camps. It is awful
to use their 'death as a credential,
but when this topic is discussed,
credentials seem to be required.)
It seems to me that in the lists
of all the differences between the
now-protesting students and the
brown-shirts the crucial one is
often mising: The SS acted in the
name of Superiority and War, the
students act in the name of Jus-
tice and of Peace. Only because
this is at least largely so do I not
share the worst fears that some
feel. Let me explain.
Many are appalled because they
envision that strikes and "disrup-
tions" may become a ' general
practice. This anxiety seems to me
unfounded. The now concluded
strike was called on a clear moral
issue. That there has been in-
justice is not controverted. Yet,
despite that it encountered a great
deal of opposition and only par-
tial support. Imagine a group try-
ing to organize a strike on an am-
bigious or even frivolous matter.
It wouldn't stand a chance. Most
students with whom I have talk-
ed draw from the last weeks not
the lesson that it is easy to make
a strike succeed, but have come
to the opposite conclusion: that is
is extremely hard.
The administration's actions
should be seen in the same light.
Ever so many faculty members feel
that there was "weakness". To me
it seemed to be restraint. A n d
why was it shown if not because
this time those who struck had
great moral forces on their side,
and we all were aware of this?
If that had not been so all of us
would have acted differently, and
rightly so.



t. 1. ,

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:
I HAVE BEEN sympathetic to
the recent efforts of the BAM to
assure expanded enrollment of
minority people at the University,
though I maintain that the issue
goes beyond the bounds of color;
the' movement cannot, and should
not, be limited to bringing Jus-
tice only to racial groups present-
ly oppressed by our society.
The problem is not whether the
university should enroll more
blacks, but whether the privileges
and benefits granted by the socie-
ty to those able to attain a col-
lege degree should be denied to
those unable to afford the costs
of higher education.
This problem affects both black
and white people, though we can-
not deny that the problems of the
blacks are made more acute by
denial of economic opportunity be-

cause of racist attitudes of t h e
white majority.
Therefore, since the university
community has wisely committed
itself to correcting these inequit-
ies, it behooves each of us to con-
centrate our efforts to turn this
commitment into a financially
practical reality.
Not all of us who attend the
university are wealthy or even
upper-middle-class and t h e
thought of higher academic cost
or added contributions makes most
of us cringe regardless of t h e
worthiness of the cause. So. I
submit the following suggestion for
consideration by the university:
Many of the students of the
university, like myself, are faced
with the task of providing t h e
means for covering the cost of
higher education of our own child-
ren when they come.
Personally, I plan to open a say-

Sincerely, Gardner
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter was received in response
to Jenny Stiller's "Open letter to Gardner Ackley" (Daily, March 31).
Since, by your "Open Letter" to me you showed some interest in
my remarks at the LSA faculty meeting last Friday, you may wish
to have the compete text, which I enclose. I am sure that you will
find my remarks even more shocking than you suspected.
I do not propose to get into a discussion of the Chicago riots,
the Vietnam War, or any of the other specific matters external to
the University raised in your letter. I will make only these two com-
ments by way of amplifying my remarks.
9 I SUPPORT fully'the right of students to request and to
support vigorously-by votes, petitions, discussions, demonstrations, or
whatever peaceful means they wish to use-their views as to desirable
changes in the organization or policies of the University. I cannot
agree, however, that when their views, requests, or demands are not
met in full, they have the right to resort to force to advance their
objectives, at the expense of the interests and the views of what is
often a majority (however "silent") of the students, as well as the
possible expense of the interests of the faculty and others who have
a legitimate stake in the University.
I might feel otherwise if all student proposals were automatically
and arbitrariy rejected: if students were confronted by, in your words,
the "arrogance of (their) entrenched rulers." On the contrary, how-
ever, the validity of many of the complaints and the desirability of
many of the proposals advanced by students have been recognized, and
major changes have been made. I found that the University had become
a dramatically different place during the eight years I was away, even
if not all the changes are to my own taste. It is not my understanding
that many, if any, of these changes were secured through student vio-
PARTICIPANTS in the University community-as in the broader
national community-who assert the right to accomplish changes by
force, even though the avenues for peaceful change through persuasion
and reason remain open, display a moral and intellectual arrogance,
and a disregard for the right of others, for which I can find no justifi-
cation-most of all in a university, which is the place, above all
others, where reason can and should-and in a large measure does
r YOU SEE NO DISTINCTION between the use of violence (the
police power) by the state and its use by private citizens. In fact the

ings account for each of my child-
ren the day they are born or
adopted; I will add to the ac-
counts periodically in the hope
that there may be adequate funds
available when they are ready to
enter college.
If the University or some agency
within the University were willing.
I would like to be able to open a
tuition account for my children
with the understanding that t h e
university may receive any inter-
est that will accumulate from the
amount that I am able to save to
be used for a fund to finance the
tuition and expenses of students
that would otherwise be unable to
attend the university.
In essence. I am suggesting that
a program be developed to allow
young parents to save and pay
the tuition costs of their child-
ren in advance so that the ac-
cumulated interest may be used
or invested as seed money by the
university tosfinance the educa-
tion of the poor. Surely,if enough
students are interested in such a,
program, the cumulative interest
over the next seventeen to twen-
ty years would be substantial.
This is only a suggestion which
I am sure could be expanded by
others who have a broader under-
standing of economics; architects
aren't noted for their financial
It seems though, that even if
the university did nothing m a r e
speculative than open an account
with a local bank and collect the
interest on such funds, the return
would help alleviate the financial
situation of our new commitment.
-Lawrence Fouty
T.F., Architecture Dept.
Editor's note
In the fext couple of days the
Daily editorial staff would like to
print a series of articles comment-
ing on the BAM strike. Any in-
dividual or group with such an ar-
ticle should bring it to the Daily
within the next two days. T h e
editors reserve the right both to
choose which articles will be print-
ed and to edit those which are.
To the Editor:
OTHERWISE responsible pub-
lic officials have recentlyehurled
reckless accusations of 'appease-
ment" and "anarchy" at the two
principal parties tonthe negotia-
tions that have been in progress
at the University of Michigan
this week-the University of Mich-
igan administration and faculty,
and the Black Action Movement.
A more destructive or ill-timed
polemic could not have b e e n con-
ceived of, even by design.

*i .
f s f
,I lj

"Here' s little trick I picked up
from Lyndon Johnson ,


i ,- ' AV

They undertook the task of mu-
tual persuasion in a setting which
initially lacked the essential in-
gredient for its success - mutual
trust. They recognized the folly of
attempting to replace persuasion
by force in spite of the urgency
of the problem.
One may lack the understand-
ing, or even miss the proper ap-
preciation of the performances
that we have witnessed. However,
these shortcomings are no ex-
cuse for the violence inherent in
the use of defamatory epithets.
--Sylvan Kornblum
Mental Health Research Institute
April 1
That (141
To the Editor:
IN A RECENT edition of The
Daily there appeared a full-page
advertisement signed by hundreds
of faculty members. One of the
main thrusts of its message was to
deplore disruptive actions on the
Personally I felt that the whole
tone of the advertisement was

frantic and graceless and, in style,
it seemed to lack the clarity and
rationality usually attributed to
members of my profession.
One especially regretable aspect
of the advertisement devolved
from its implicit repudiation of the
tradition, firmly-rooted'in western
civilization, of the legitimacy of
disrupting immoral functions of
institutions-especially such func-
tions which are inconsistent with
the recognized purposes of the in-
stitutions. Certainly I would not
expect many of the signers of the
advertisement to deplore Christ's
disruption of the money-lenders,
the abolishionist disruptions, Gan-
dhi's disruption of English rule,
etc., etc., etc.
that many of the signers were
"used" by some of the more
thougthless and reactionary ele-
ments of the community and I ap-
peal to all such signers to publicly
disassociate themselves from the
-Prof. John Corcoran
Philosophy dept.
March 25

She ain't what she used to be

IT'S BAD enough that urban rapid tran-
sit systems don't get people where
they want to go on time, are crowded,
dirty, stuffy and pollute the air. But when
they disrupt one's libido--why, what will
happen next?
A law suit, it seems.
Gloria Sykes, a University graduate,
has filed a $500,000 damage suit in San
Francisco as a result of a cable car ac-
cident that occurred there in 1964.
According to Miss Sykes' attorney, she
was extremely religious and straitlaced
Ei torial Director Managing Editor

before the accident. Now, he contends,
she has an obsession for "contact with
a body" which results in an insatiable
desire for sex-all brought on by the
1964 mishap. In addition, he says Miss
Sykes is under the care of a physician
and psychiatrist.
Extensive research in the last 24 hours
has indicated that Miss Sykes' accident
may be proof of the world's first auto-
mated aphrodisiac.
Business Manager
PHYLLIS HURWITZu.... Administrative Advertising
CRAIG WOLSON .................. Retail Advertising

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