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August 27, 1968 - Image 44

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-08-27

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Tuesday, August 27, 1968

THE MiCHIGAN DAILYTuesday, August 27, 1968


iceberg continues

to chill

The University's Board of Re-
gents encourages students to at-
tend their monthly .open meet-
ings. Very few do.
To a newcomer to the Univer-
° sity this might seem curious. The
Regents are the absolute gov-
ernors of the University. Every
month they make such decisions
o as the size of next year's tuition,
whether freshman women should
be required to return to their dor-
mitories every night and how
much power students should have
over their private lives.
Perhaps the reason for the lack
of student interest in the Regents'
meetings is the lack of substan-
" tive discussion and decision mak-
ing that goes on there.
At a typical open meeting Presi-
dent Robben Fleming, acting as
y. chairman, reads off proposals one
'- " by one. Each vice president reads
a report to the board. A few state-
ments or questions come from
each Regent. Votes are taken
without debate.
As each decision is made, a
a representative of University News
s. Service passes out a carefully pre-
prepared press release to the three
or four reporters present.
-- * The Regents make essentially
all of their decisions either over
the phone during the month or
at closed sessions on the day be-
fore and the morning of the day
of their open meetings.
Perhaps another reason for the
student apathy is the remoteness,
real or apparent, of the Regents
from the individual student. With
4 37,000 students and only eight
Regents, this remoteness is un-
Make. WAHR'S your
for all your textbook
and college supplies
0L 4r air-t-7an64-ily

derstandable. Regent Otis Smith
says that "I suppose everbody
would like the idea of marching
up to a Regent and having a di-
rect confrontation . . . but the
Regents just don't have enough
time - there aren't enough hours
in the day."
The Regents are perhaps more
pressed for time than they might
be because the position carries no
salary. In fact, it has been charg-
ed that nominations for the post'
have been given away in return
for large contributions to politiical
parties. Regents almost always
hold down full time jobs in ad-
dition to their University respon-
sibilities: governing is only a
part-time undertaking for them.
The Regents are elected by the
people of the state. Two are elect-
ed to eight-year terms every two
years. Campaigns are less than
vigorous for the posts: most voters'
are only dimly aware of any is-
sues of the campaign, let alone
the positions of the individual
candidates. Regents are generally
elected on a strict party basis.
The University presently has
seven Republicans on the board,
two of whom are up for re-elec-
tion this fall. The state Demo-
crats have not yet chosen their
candidates for the posts, but the
New Politics Party is running a
radical student leader, Eric Ches-
ter, for the post.
Political affiliation is not nec-
essarily indicative of the per-
formances of an individual Regent.
Although Republicans tend to be
more on the conservative side, Mrs.
Gertrude Huebner, a Republican
and the only woman on the board,
says "I'm certainly no politician.
If the Democrats had asked me to
run, then I probably would have
run as a Democrat."
The Board of Regents is es-
tablished by the state constitution
as a separate but more or less
equal branch of the government.
The State Supreme Court has
ruled that the University is com-
pletely autonomous from the
state Legislature in the govern-
ance of its internal affairs.
But the Regents lack the only
power that could make them
truly autonomous: the power to
tax . The Legislature grants a
certain amount of money to the
University every year, and activ-

ities unpleasant to legislators are
likely to result in threats or ac-
tual cutting of the University bud-
The Regents are not only sub-
ject to pressure from above, but
also from below, Most of the
day-to-day (and a lot of the
year-to-year) decisions at the
University are made by admin-
strators, faculty and, most recent-
ly, students.
Regent William Cudlip, a board
member since his election in 1964
says that "in appropriate areas,
the advice of students, through
whatever channels are deemed ap-
propriate, is a very good thing.
I think that students, through
their elected representatives, can
comment and have a place in
determining things about com-
munity life at the University."
Regental approval of faculty
appointments is all but taken for
granted. Department heads and
deans decide. In most other areas
the president and vice presidents
of the University have most of
the real power. Although they
must have Regental approval for
their actions, they control the
channels of communication to the
Regents to a great extent. A first-
hand report from a vice president
often carries more weight than
newspaper accounts of dissent or
the charges and cries of faceless
student protesters.
The Regents have power when
they choose to exercise it. They
can fire a faculty member for re-
fusing to testify before the House
Committee on Un-American Ac-
tivities or they can demand that
a local NAACP leader be pro-
moted. They can fire the presi-
dent or give a vice presidency to
a man the president doesn't want
to work with.
The Regents often choose to
exercise their power in the area
of student rights and regulations.
This year they are planning on
modifying their bylaws to change
the entire structure of student
government and regulation.
Perhaps in another year the
Regents will consider restructur-
ing their own decision making
process. Students might feel more
like responding favorably to the
Regents' request to attend their
open meetings if they felt there
was something there to see.

Cudip, Smith

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