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November 23, 1958 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 1958-11-23
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Lost Mission

A Council Member Visions Two Roles Still Open to the Organization

THIS ARTICLE is about the
Student Government Council
-its character(s), its problems,
and perhaps its future.
It is not a defense of, or an at-
tack upon the group. It is an at-
tempt at analysis from within, in-
stead of the usual criticism from
The point of view represented
here is necessarily that of one in-
dividual; it is not the result of
the deliberations by any commit-
tee for evaluating or re-evaluat-
ing student government.
STUDENT government, on this
campus, would seem to be in
ani advantageous position. Recog-
nized by the Board of Regents,
consulted by faculty and adminis-
tration, its most every move re-
ported by The Daily, authorized to
regulate a large section in the
realm of student affairs, SGC
,seems to have capabilities to burn.
Sometimes, it looks as if most
of these capabilities have already
been burned, with the remainder
badly singed.
So the question arises: has stu-
dent government become a fruit-
less and sterile activity, attracting
each year fewer try-outs than any
other "major" campus activity?
Has it become the "club" of a lim-
ited group of power and prestige-
hungry people who make the SGC
offices their club-house, the SGC
Plan their Bible, SGC election
night their "Sacre du Printemps?"
IT IS unfortunately true that the
control of student government
has fallen into the hands of a
small group of people, mostly by
But as fewer qualified, in-
formed, and talented students
show any interest in this activity,
it naturally follows that student
government becomes filled with
less qualified, less informed, less
talented people, and suffers ac-
Election campaigns are prepos-
terous, with incredible statements
tossed off everywhere, and a pa-
thetic lack of audience response
all around.
During the show last April, the
twenty-odd candidates spoke their
lines to m o s t l y disinterested
groups who could hear speakers
profess to be "running on a Pan-
hel-IFC ticket" without a shudder.
Within my recollection, only at
Martha Cook were candidates giv-
en any sort of meaningful ques-
tioning, and most of them were
d e v a s t a t e d. But the Martha
Cookies were the exception, and
apathy was the rule.
I David Kessel was elected to
the Student Govern men-t
Council last March.

An Important Night at SGC: Sigma Kappa Still in Violation

So various Charlie McCarthy's
(and Mortimer Snerds) roamed
about talking about high cost of
living, bad dormitory food, schol-
arships, bicycle problems, Sigma
Kappa, Deans of Women and dis-
pHE ELECTION seemed to be a
test of ballot stuffing skill.
After the election, four thous-
and voters forgot about their duly
elected representatives for anoth-
er six months, and eight new
leaders of student opinion were
seated on the Council. Three were
new to the group, five were from
the "gang;" they had been active
in the student government game
Curiously enough, this new SGC
was somewhat unlike the past
group. And as, one by one, the ex-
officio members were replaced, it
soon became evident to critical
observers that the new SGC was a
distinct cut above the old.
Some claimed that this was be-
cause the group could hardly have
gotten much worse. But whatever
the reason, it seemed that much
of the old "club" routine was gone,
and that things were looking up
for student government.
THINGS must look up a great
deal more if SGC is ever to
become the campus force it ought
to be.
Certainly, on this campus, there
are a great many students who

could revolutionize student gov-1
ernment; make it a really vitalJ
and productive organization, ca-
pable of helping create a better:
educational community for us all.
But these people are not inter-
ested. At times, it seems that no
one is really interested except for
some Daily writers and a few
hopelessly overburdened SGC
The Council itself is partly re-
sponsible for this situation be-
cause of the manner in which it
has adopted a sort of junior-grade
spoils system.
From time to time, the Council
appoints people to various com-
mittees, and to vacancies on the
Council itself, Until recently,
Council vacancies were always
filled by members of the "appoint-
ments pool," a small group of
camp followers who have shown
great interest, although not neces-
sarily much talent, in the leader-
ship game.
This dismal trend was recently
reversed with the appointment of
an "outsider" to a Council vacan-
cy. But most other appointments
invariably go to loyal workers; a
fine reward for faithful service,
to be sure, but hardly the way to
get capable outsiders into the
government structure.
L AST SUMMER, the University
sent about 14 people to some-
thing called the National Student
Association Congress.
Most of these people were ap-
pointed on the basis of their years
of long and faithful service under
the purple and orchid banner of
student government.
The result: a delegation of half-
informed people who, at a cost of
several hundred dollars, had a
jolly good vacation for 10 days
and, with one significant excep-
tion, accomplished just exactly
It must hastily be added that
some of the students appointed to
various groups by the Council
have been quite satisfactory.
Some have been exceptional.
But this practice of blindly filling
positions with the nearest friend
at hand is long out of date,
student government and the
administration has been rather
close in the past; now this too U
There are members of the ad-
ministration group who see every
decision by SOC as an encroach-
ment on their own sphere of
power. There are University offi-
cials who see student government
as a dangerous force which must

be kept fairly harmless and
powerless, lest it somehow upset
she University applecart. There
seems to be growing lack of trust
of SGC by the administration,
parallelling a lack of interest by
The reasons for this condition
are many; here is what seems to
be the most important one:
SGC does not, for the most
part, represent student opinion

evitably won by the Universlty
administration, with students los-
ing something as a result. But
since they don't care, perhaps
they won't notice.
The statements above are a
trifle extreme, to be sure. Many of
them verge on -the indefensible.
But there is a shred of truth in
all of them, if one looks closely.
almost defy analysis. Here are
some of -the usual campus snap-
judgments, which are later modi-
fied or refuted.
1) SGC officers (and most
members) cannot be said to "play"
at being administrators. Whey
work hard at it.
2) About the only people who
take SOC meetings seriously are
18 people sitting around a table,
and not always even them.
3) Most men join SGC so that
they can call any sorority, even
on weekends, and find some im-
pressionable girl to "take out."
4) Most women join SGC to ex-
pend energies which other women
expend on the sofas of Stockwell
5) SGC was not created to ful-
fill a real need (as were Panhel
and IFC), but was created to give
a few people some political ex-
perience at the expense-of every-
one else.
6) If SGC should suddenly dis-
appear, all its functions could be
given to two secretaries and an
IBM machine and no one would
be unhappy.
'7) If all the projects SGC has
started and never finished (e.g.,
honor system, course evaluation
handbook, more precise marking
system, campus chest, etc., etc.,)
were stacked one on top of the
other, the pile would reach high-
er than Bu r t o n Tower but
wouldn't sound nearly so good.
8) The people who started all
these unfinished projects were
much more interested in getting
their names attached to some pos-
sibly worthwhile idea than in do-
ing any of the necessary work.-
ONLY A few of these snap
judgements can stand without
some real modification.
SGC officers (and most mem-
bers) do indeed work hard at be-
ing administrators. This is partly
because it is impossible for most
people to keep much of a sense
of proportion under the various
and assorted pressures SGC mem-
bers are usually up against.
A somewhat less obvious rea-
son: Council members who find
that they are not great sources of
new and startling ideas (like they
had hoped) naturally turn to the
role of administrators and spend
much time worrying about when
to calendar J-Hop, bucket drives,
and how to keep bicycles off the
League front steps.
SGC IS NOT much of a prestige
organization, in spite of much
opinion to the contrary.
Anyone who has the idea he can
join the Council and become,
overnight, a social lion with party
invitations dropping into his
nailbox like small fish drop into
the mouth of a hungry whale Is in
for a big surprise.
Anyone who wants to join the
Council so he can call any sorority
or dormitory at any time and say
to the first girl who answers the
phone: "I'm Mortimer Snerd of
SGC. Who wants to spend a gay
weekend at my cabin in the north
woods" is simply out of his mind.
For the most part, when people
learn that Mortimer is an SGC
man, they react much the same
as if they had learned that he
had just won three truckloads of
bean sprouts on a TV quiz pro-
gram: with some interest, but not
much admiration.
If all SOC's functions were giv-
en to some administration bu-
reaucrat, it would be amusing to

see how fast the situation would
See SGC, Page 13



Artist's Role Depends on What He Is Allowed To (

ARTISAN PRODUCTS - The three- photographs above show different types of art in which the
emphasis is on the usefulness of the object rather than its abstract beauty. To the primitive artist
the cave painting has as much validity as the object portrayed. The vase (center) is an example of
applied art, an idea introduced by the Greeks.

USEFUL ART-The worker wh
worked without great concern f
"a good chair" or "a poor chair"
society in which he lived.

for a

SGS's Actions .. .

THE ROLE of the artist is a
question of primary social con-
cern inasmuch as the artist and
his contributions to, and com-
mentaries on, society constitute
the focus, testing ground and point
of dissemination for much, often
most, of a society's creative efforts.
The role of the artist depends
largely on the quality of the social
contribution he is allowed or en-
couraged to make; and the degree
of acceptance and permissiveness
evinced by the society will inevit-
ably affect the artist's function-
ings and contributions.
The basic differences of the ar-
tist from the generality of man-
kind are ones more of attitude
than craft and are to be found in
the activity (not reserved for art
practitioners alone) known as the
creative process.
This process-looked on askance
by many, misunderstood by most,,
elusive of the categorizers codifi-
cation (but probably inherent to
some degree in everyone)- is
fundamentally an aggressive curi-
osity unqualified by stereotypes,
and a power of observation both
naive (in that it is fresh each time
it is exercised) and profound (in
that it is a combination of high
intellect and broad human under-
standing). Not all art-practition-
ers possess this quality to a high
degree any more than all persons
engaged in business .are capable
of managing a large corporation,
nor is every member of the mili-
tary capable of high-level strategy.
rHE NURTURE and guidance -of
creative attitudes and activi-
ties is one of the most vital oc-
cupations of any society: without
the development of these creative
activities the society stagnates,
and without some guidance toward
goals and expressions suitable to
the perpetuation and enhance-
ment of the society, the society is
in danger of drastic change, even
The creative attitudes, then, are
the basic quality of the artist. It
is the basic quality also of any
other individual regardless of his
field who is creating rather than
copying orsimply re-arranging.
The fundamental quality of cre-
ativity finds its expression in any
of a number of areas or forms de-
pending on how the individual has
been trained and what areas of
expression are socially acceptable
and rewarded in his society. It is
David Guillaume teaches
art education in the architec-
ture college. He is working
for his Ph.D. in education.

very possible to be schooled in the
manipulation of materials of one
sort or another and yet be al-
most totally uncreative. Such an
individual may become a fine
craftsman but not an artist in the
sense discussed here.
110 DISCUSS the artist's role it
would be well to examine the
role of art in society, and, to facil-
itate this, divide societies into
simple and complex.
In a simple society, the world is
viewed as a whole-distinctions
between animate and inanimate,
physical and mental, actual and
ideational are recognized only
vaguely if at all. The elements of
existence are expressions of, inte-
gral parts of, a single unity.
The ancient Chinese, for ex-
ample, held that humanity (dead
and alive) and the spirit world
were interdependent - the mal-
functioning of any single compo-
nent could jeopardize the ordering
of the entire system. This notion
led to strict traditions of propriety
and correct behavior, in the man-
ner of Confucius.


The complex societies, starting
with the Greek culture, view the
world as a series of independent
entities which interact one with
another. Thus, science, art, philos-
ophy, religion are seen as separate
entities, independent and autono-
mous. Simple societies are not ex-
clusive, whereas complex societies
are segmented and, often, exclu-
these two ways of viewing the
world are basically important to
all phases of thinking and reason-
ing, and directly influence the role
art and the artist will play.
Art for- the simple society em-
bodies the actuality of the idea or
thiug discussed: the symbols of
the sand painting, for example,
are identified with the ideas rep-
resented. In complex socieles the
art expressions are a discussion
about the thing or idea portrayed.
In the simple society the artisan
role is that of the producer of
goods of utility: distinctions as to
the validity or worth of function
among a poi pounder, canoe prow,

statuette, or mask are not made-
all are a part of meaningful living,
and the art connotations are as
important as (are, in a sense, the
same as) the things and ideas
made or expressed.
In such a society the artisan is
rewarded and accepted to the de-
gree to which he fulfills his func-
tions. There is no separation of the
artisan or his products from the
needed utilitarian sphere of life.
The artisan-craftsman of such a
simple society may be said to cor-
respond, in the degree of his inte-
gration in his culture. to that of
the skilled worker in our complex
society, to the riveter, carpenter,
airplane pilot.
This does not imply that the
artisan is the same as any other
individual in the simple society;
rather, his role is accepted as is
that of any other producer of use-
ful goods. Various occupational
idiosyncracies are recognized, but
recognized as being no more than
similar occupational idiosyncracies
imposed by the nature of the role-
functions of other members of the
society: the farmer's overalls,

Lots of Publicity
on this campus. There is no stu-
dent opinion. What SCC does
represent is "student leader" opin-
ion. But "student leaders" are es-
sentially junior administrators, so
they clash with University admin-
istrators on some questions. Since
junior administrators are almost:
always more liberal, quicker to
experiment, less likely to be tra-
ditionalists than senior admini.s-
trators, a clash is inevitable.
ACCORDING to a dean who, I
am certain, would rather not
be named here, college adminis-
trators are sometimes "long on
"tradition and short on brains."
So the lines of battle are clearly
drawn; a battie which will be in-

ART FOR THE STATE -- These two photographs shlw examples of art created as a reflection of
the state, social or religious powegroup under which the artist iv. . *In effect an employee
of a particular power group.

Election Night: "Sacre da Printemps?"

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