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December 02, 1960 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1960-12-02

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A Political Prisoner's Jail


a fg ~icrn taiy /
Seventy-First Year
uth Will Prevail"
oriats printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.




DECEMBER 2. 1960


SFAC WorIng Papeers:
Good Idea, Poorly Implemented-

E GREAT VALUE of the Union-sponsored'
Student - Faculty - Administration Confer-
s is that they offer members of the Uni-
ty community an opportunity to talk about
ers of common\ interest and concern in-
ally. Unfortunately, the working papers
n up by the Union staff for this Satur-
conference defeat this end to some ex-
t working papers, which present some
and questions to be used as a take-off
for discussions of alumni relations, stu-
government and the student press, are
he following material is being presented
iat we all have certain facts, basic con-
and ideas in mind; ,so that we have a
non understanding of the problem and a
point with which to view these prob-r
brief examination of the "facts, basic
epts and ideas" set forth indicates that
could rather produce the kind of misun-
anding and diffusion which could lead de-
into a blind alley.
E STATEMENT :regarding alumni does
ideed present facts and figures which
w that the University has an active alumni
conclusions leave untouched some of
entral questions relating to alumni sup-
What do the alumni get out of their
nuing association with the University?
t are their interests in giving support? Do
interests coincide or conflict with the
interests of the University?
there is a conflict of interests, how is a
ace to be obtained? What are the possibili-
for disinterested alumni support-funds
no strings attached for instance-in the
relations was over-general and too conclu-
to offer much basis for discussion, the
n student government is so general as to
lually fruitless in terms of debate. Facts

which might relate the University's student
governing body to those elsewhere (it is com-
paratively at least as strong as the alumni
program) and define its specific powers and
purposes are lacking.
Such remarks as, "Student government must
be committed to higher goals of education in
order to justify its existence," and "It is the
student government's duty to do everything it
can to insure the general excellence of the in-
stitution, of the education offered, and of the
individual development of its students" are
probably true in theory and general enough
at the same time to make them almost undis-
THE STUDENT PRESS statement begins with
the curious proposition that "The student
press is not a self-supporting organization,
but is dependent on university subsidies or
annual student assessments." Generally this is.
the case, but such papers as the Harvard
Crimson and The Michigan Daily are notable
exceptions who prize economic independence.
According to the Union, proposed obliga-
tions for the student press (including "that
of being useful to faculty and administration
as a source of information regarding student
attitudes") are somehow derived from its stat-
us as a University-affiliated and supported
organ and not from its status as a newspaper.
For those of us who endorse freedom and self-
determination of the student press this comes
as a slight jar! This should be a question, not
an assumption, if considered at all seriously.
IT IS A REAL STEP forward to introduce the
idea of working papers to facilitate and
stimulate discussion at Stu-Fac-Ad Confer-
ences. With a little more care, this idea could
have been successfully realized. As it is, the
working papers are intended to serve as a
take-off point and discussions should not be
crippled by them if participants take them with
a grain of salt.
Editorial Director


SGC Stronger, Rulings Weaker.

)ENT GOVERNMENT bodies at the Uni-
sity have been proposing action against
ninatory practices for nearly ten years.
elationship of the student group to the
.stration on these proposals has grown
er as the suggestions have become weaker.
larch, 1951, the Student Legislature pro-
and the student-faculty-administration
ttee on Student Affairs adopted an
.ely forceful program to eliminate bias
Qpus organizations. Student Legislature
t time was a policy-making body, while
udent Affairs Committee enacted legis-
RULING GAVE campus groups five years
which to completely eliminate written
lauses in their constitutions, national
al. 'Furthermore, it required all local
rs of organizations with bias clauses to
ice, support and vote for a motion to
such clauses .in their national con-
ersity President Alexander Ruthven
the ruling.
important consideration in his action
at the ruling did not make any provision
pters which acted in good faith and were
to achieve the desired results within
e period.
ar later upon recommendation from the
t Legislature and the Committee on
b Affairs decided upon a slightly less
:ing regulation. The five year time
as omitted, but organizations still had
)ort a motion at their convention.
he event that it could not get such a
placed on the floor, a group was ob-
to move for a suspension of the rules
sider the removal of discriminatory
power in the ruling was that any or-
ion which did not carry out those
would be denied recognition until the
had been removed.
ersity President Harlan Hatcher vetoed,
ing with objection about "methods and
LL FOLLOWED, during which Student
islature and the Committee on Student
were replaced by Student Government
and the Vice-President for Student
SGC was given the authority to grant
;hdraw recognition, which had formerly
e Committee's province.
s first action on discrimination was to
enforcement of the 1949 University
on that organizations recognized after
me should not maintain discriminatory
or practices.

versity, the Board in Review overrode the
Grounds for reversal were at that time juris-
dictional or procedural irregularity. Procedure
was questioned, in that the Council had not
made every attempt to ascertain opinion and
gain information from all interested sources.
After the reversal the Regents authorized a
Clarification Committee to overhaul the SGC
plan and clear up ambiguities. An additional
ground for reversal was added under the new
plan: unreasonable action. It has been said
that this reason fits the Sigma Kappa reversal
better than that on which the reversal was
A far greater change in attitude is apparent
in the 1960 action.
THE UNIVERSITY now acknowledges fully
that SGC has the authority to carry out
all recognition processes. Futhermore, the ad-
ministration to date has been willing to let
the Council proceed with its plans to implement
the University's 1959 bylaw against discrimina-
tion on campus,
Early in 1960 the Council replaced the 1949
regulation with a ruling that no student or-
ganization may discriminate. It then establish-
ed a committee on membership practices to
help bring about in fact the principles set
down in the bylaw. To facilitate this, a motion
came before the Council to require that all
recognized student organizations file a copy
of their present constitution with SGC's Execu-
tive Council.
This motion was varied several times, but
remained substantially the same for several
months while Council members slowly con-
sidered its ramifications. At each successive
amendment it became slightly less potent, but
more practical.
WHEN ITS FORM began to change more
quickly -- .from the constitution to a
notarized statement of membership restrictions
to the present good faith statement without
any legal verification.
It is now time to give some thought to
whether the Council may be growing over-
cautious. The greatest amount of discussion
on any subject last night centered on inter-
pretation of the word "tradition." Although
trying to establish the general scope of the
information which sororities and fraternities
will present to SOC, the debaters tended to
map out the area with a ruler and fine point
THE COUNCIL IS deeply concerned now that
future interpretations of the ruling may
differ from theirs. This is not necessarily a
bad thing. In fact. in many wave it is .

Daily Staff Writer
IN MAY, 1954, H. Chandler Da-
vis was called before a sub-
committee of the House Un-Amer-
ican Activities Committee in Lans-
ing to answer questions regard-
ing his political beliefs, his alleged
affiliation with the Communist
Party ,and his alleged participa-
tion in the publication of a pam-
phlet denouncing the Congression-
al committee and its work.
At that time Davis was an in-
structor in mathematics at the
University, having earned his doc-
torate at Harvard at the age of
Two other faculty members,
Prof. Mark Nickerson and Prof.
Clement L. Markert, were also sub-
poenaed by the subcommittee.
Nickerson and Markert were
teachers in the departments of
pharmacology and zoology, re-
ALL THREE invoked the First
Amendment of the Constitution
before the committee; Markert
and Nickerson also invoked the
Fifth. The Fifth Amendment guar-
antees a person's rights against
self-incrimination; the First guar-
antees freedom of speech, press,
and association,
On May 10, the same day the
three men had refused to answer
questions regarding their past and
present identification with the
Communist Party, President Har-
lan Hatcher suspended them from
their posts, without loss of pay.h
The procbdure followed by the
University after their suspension
was this: individual hearings by
the departments with which they
were associated, consideration by
the executive committees of the
literary college and the Medical
School, then examination of the
cases by a Special Advisory Com-
mittee to the President Following
the investigations of this body,
Hatcher made his recommenda-
tions to the Regents, who made
the final decisions,
* *
THE SPECIAL Advisory Com-
mittee, in agreement with the
literary college executive commit-
tee and Markert'sedepartment,
voted 4-1 that he be reinstated.
The Medical School asked Nicker-
son's dismissal, but the SAC voted
3-2 to reinstate him. On the basis
of the dissenting opinion, how-
ever, Hatcher asked the Regents to
dismiss Nickerson. The Regents
voted 7-1 for his dismissal. Mar-
kert was reinstated.
The mathematics department
and the literary college executive
committee asked that Davis be re-
instated, but the SAC voted unani-
mously to ask his dismissal. The
Regents unanimously dismissed
him, following Hatcher's recom-
The American' Association of
University Professors sent a spe-
cial committee to Ann Arbor in
1956 to investigate the handling of
the cases, and in April, 1958, th
AAUP placed the University on its
censure 1 s t, questioning its
grounds for dismissal and its re-
fusal to allow Nickerson and Davis
severance pay,
* *
IN JANUARY and June of 1959
the Regents adopted new regula-
tions regarding severance pay for
faculty personnel dismissed before
the expiration of their appoint-
ments, and grounds for dismissal.
The following October the Uni-
versity was removed from the
AAUP's censure list.
In September, 1954, while Da-
vis' case was still being considered,
he was cited for contempt of Con-
gress and indicted by a Federal
grand jury on 26 counts. He was
sentenced in 1957 to six months in
prison and, a $250 fine. After e
took the case to a Cincinnati
court of appeals and attempted
without success to go before the
United States Supreme Court, he

(EDITOR'S NOTE: H. Chandler
Davis was a mathematics professort
at the University when he was
called before the House Un-Ameri-
can Activities Committee to testify
about his political beliefs and asso-
ciations in 1954,awhen he wassus-
pended and subsequently dismissed.
He has recently completed a six-
month prison term for having re-
fused to testify before the commit-
tee (he pleaded the First Amend-
ment).lie wrote this article for Th
Nation, whohave permitted The
Daily to reprint it)
SO YOU'RE going to prison? Let
me help you plan your trip.
Whether you were busted for
objecting to the draft, for demo-
strating against nuclear arms, for
sitting at a lunch counter, or (like
me) for rejecting the authority of
the Un-American Activities Com-
mittee - forget it. Or at least
don't let it prey on your mind.
While you're locked up, your main
concern is to keep cool and pull
your time.
Enter custody in a daze. If nat-
urally alert and responsive, re-
solve not to be; respond slowly
and obviously to every situation
you haven't cased. (You'll get by;
the path you tread has been trod
by morons.) Expect no friendship,
trust nobody, expect no justice,
resolve not to be indignant. As an
alumnus of a Hitlerite prison ad-
vised me, "Remember in, part of
your mind that this is not to be
taken seriously." Good advice.
LATER, of course, you'll find
that you do have friends, that
your life does have pleasures, and
that you know some situations
where you can anticipate fairness.
But you can recognize them and
enjoy them only with a priso-n
oriented personality, even though
a green one; your normal per-
sonality must stand aside. "Mar,
I'm not at all like this on tlie
street," a long-time convict told
me, "you'd meet me and not know
me." Another said, "The wa to
make this time is to ride with it."
Become not only a somewhat new
man, but a duller one.
The numb approach. is also a
good way to avoid the acuter dis-
comforts and frustrations by keep-
ing you out of trouble in a situa-
tion and among people who are
stranger than you at first appre-
ciate. Above all, the numb ap-
proach is a good way to endure
the usual unpleasantnesses of pris-
on, which are not at all exciting,
What are they?
* * ,
FIRST OF ALL, .prison is pretty
dreary, You are deprived of many
satisfactions: You can't enjoy a
normal sex life, or fresh straw-
berries, or a. glass of wine, or a
reefer, or a necktie, or curtains. In
the prisons I was in, you can't
legally enjoy a cup of coffee in the
evening, or six eggs per week, or a
swim, or gingling coins, or betting
on the fights. Et cetera. Some of
these you might choose to forego
when free, but taking all of them
away leaves a life bleak to almost
anybody's senses. (If, of course,
you should do some of your time
in "the hole," the deprivation will
for that period go even further.)
One class of deprivation will
chafe worst, if you're at all like
me: You are deprived of the
chance to make choices and make
plans. Most obviously, you are not
free to travel, or to vote. But it
isn't only that some major op-
tions are taken away; even the
trivial ones aren't sufficient to
keep your decision-making faculty
limbered up. You'll start scheming
almost at once to be put in situa-
tions with alternatives. Thus I,
who don't like sweatshirts and
surely, don't need to reduce, cher-
ished my sweatshirt when one
came my way and even wore it
occasionally. Why? Because a few
hours each day I could choose

whether to wear it or not. Incar-
ceration nurtures existentialism.
Second, you get out of touch
while locked up. For men who pull
real time (say, two years and up)
without many visits, there's a dan-
ger of losing what we might call
their sweet personality. The numb
personality takes over. Indeed, this
is part of the prescription for long-
timers: "Forget about the street
and your five years'll go like that."
But then-will it still be you who
hit the street? I believe very many
convicts, even short-termers, feel
they are getting out of touch with
ANOTHER unpleasantness of in-
carceration is the custodial off i
cers - hacks to you. There are all
kinds; the overtly and deliberately
cruel ones are not preponderant;
in general, hacks are no worse
than convicts at the core. But they
suffer from an occupational dis-
ease. Those who have been on the
job a good many years, hearing a
non-committal "Yes sir" from in-
mates all that time, 'have long
since given up any attempts they
ever made to be sensitive to an
inmate's attitudes.
"You know, Davis, we had hun-
dreds of those conscientious objec-
tors in here during the war."
"Yes sir."
"Those guys aren't sincere, they
don't mean that about conscience."
"Oh, really?"
"Naw. All those that are sincere
are crazy."
"Oh, really?"
"Yeah, I mean they're always
going on hungeer strikes. Now
what's the point of that? We just
force-feed them."
"Yes sir."
This hack was neither venting
spite against COs nor baiting me,
he was just chatting. The occa-
sion of the chat illustrates my
point as well: he had found me in
another inmate's cell; I had ex-
plained that the man (though not
the authorities) had given me per-
mission to be there because I had
no quiet place of my own to study;
I was manifestly studying; th
hack, a kindly sort, did not disci-
pline me-but did stay for over an
hour of monologue.
All hacks, young and old, are
victims of the same lack of cor-
rectives from below. Inmate griev-
ances rarely reach them and are
more rarely taken seriously. And
socializing with them is drastical-
ly inhibited by their great arbi-
trary power over you.
* * *
THE WORST annoyance of
prison, I was told by a prison psy-
chologist I met before I was locked
up,. would be having to live with
the other prisoners. This I did not
I did time with Lloyd Barenblatt
and Paul Rosenkrantz-friends of
mine and like me First Amend-
*ment cases and academics-and
with a few others whose offenses
were in some sense political or
conscientious. You may not be so
fortunate. You will surely break
bread with many a man you would
not have expected to see across the
table from you. "Let me tell you,"
bragged a grim-faced thug at
lunch, "when they need somebody
really tough to break a strike, they
go to the ex-cons"-a spontaneous
esprit de corps, in which he in-
cluded us. From this you may vis-
ualize prisoners as a regiment of
type-cast waterfront scabs with a
place left in the ranks for you to
fill, and you may worry. Actually
it's not tha bad.
Prisoners are asonishingly var-
ious. A hillbilly bootlegger is not
the same as a Las Vegas gambler;
a car thief is not the same as a
stock manipulator. Even men con-
victed of the same offense are'
various. It seems that of the mhany
disorders available to a civilized

personality, fully as many will
lead to federal prison as to a men-
tal hospital.
IN THIS hodge-podge, confor-
mity can hardly be demanded. To
some of the men you will look like
an odd-ball, sure. Friendly. wise-.
cracling expresses it now and
(At the gym) "That's the way,
Davis, you've developed the mind,
now develop the body."
" Six months of this, for a rin-cilBri
ciple? Brrrl",
"send . a carrier pigeon to
Khrushchev to parachute us some.
machine guns, we're with you."
But while-you look odd, they're
mostly already resigned to pulling
time in company with others fully
as odd. They don't make a prac-
tice of beating the odd-ball into
a from more familiar to them: be-
cause this the authorities punish
with a week or so in the hole.
You'll have to beware, not of
systematic bullying from fellow
inmates, but of unpredictable out-
bursts, It is safer to be stigmatized
as a Red or a professor, than it is
to Jostle a stranger in the chow
line. Remember that no matter
how irrational it would be for him
to swing at you for jostling him,
there are probably several men in
the joint at any moment who are
ready to commit just such an irra-
tionality, and he 'may be one of
them. If he swings at you, he'll
take a trip to the hole, but so will
you. Treat him a little warily.
In the same way, you will be
treated a little warily by every
wise con. It is said of the con-wise
long-timer, "He is a gentleman.
Hie may kill you, but he won't i-
sult you." This is rhetorical; in
fact he won't do either-except;
for that small but appreciable
danger at any instant that he may,
the next instant, become an un-
wise con,
* * *
PN THE WHOLE, my friend-
ships with the other inmates were
the outstanding redeeming fea-
ture of my prison experience.
There is lots of time for bull ses-
sions. Locked into a bare hall -
"day-room" - : convicts pace up
and down it in pairs, talking.
Locked into separate cells, they
converse in shouts. June evenings
at Danbury, a conversation may
last for twenty slow circuits of the
compound (we figure five laps as
a mile).,
And the enemies of society ate
not a bad lot. You'll like them -
some of them. Of course yo$ll find
some so squalid morally that it's
hard to offer them friendship, and
others just persistent bores. But
you expect these, and Yo)r prison"
patience equips you to put up"
with them,
What you might not expect if I
didn't warn you is that many pris-
oners won't want to talk to you.
Not frankly, at least.
Obvious cases: a fence whose
business is kaput may prefer not
to discuss the next business he in-
tends setting up; a dope peddler
may suppress, in his account of
his case,,the fact that he infdrmed
on his partners. Prisoners can con-
ceal things like this-or anything:
else. Isolated from clothes, home
and. other identifying marks, they
may prefer to fake a past.
Their emotional lives may be
the subject of maudlin fantasy, the
imaginary wife-and-family-wait-
ing being the most popular, rath-
er thani the. imaginary broad-I-.
shacked - up - with - down - in-
Pittsburgh. Now it is hard to get to1
know a man who is systematically
lying to you; and as for the un-
trammeled liars, there is in some
-sense nothing there to know.
Of those prisoners who do talk
frankly, most prefer small talk.
They don't feel like forming
friendships in the temporary and1
unpleasant prison community. In-

deed it's bad form to act earnes
about conversations or anything
else within the walls; it may ipcur
that most scornful prison com-
ment, "He's found a home."
FOR ALL these ,reasons, incar-
ceration is a way of life you won't
But don't bother griping. The'
prison authorities, whel they re-
flect on their purpose at lal, quite
likely consider that you are sup-
posed to be unhappy-unless they
are of the' "modern" school, in
which case quite likely their hands
are already full offsetting the old-
fashioned school. Each philosophy
must allowe that prison 'exists to
do something for or to the con-
victs, but (I suppose because they
seem to negate each other) neither
philosophy is implemented i any
consistent way. The philosophical
void; is, filled by expediency, The
prisons' dominant policy is to mud-
dle through.
Whether or not it is good for
prisoners to' be confined, or good
for some and not forf others, pen-
ologists may lebate it. But it was
not their debates that got'me the
precious privilege of a inmnth
working on the prison farm, out-
side the walls. That was dictated
by the needs of the farm. If I had
had a crippled leg, r if I had had
some skill the authorities needed
inside the walls, like TV repair
(teaching? But poliical prisoners
Just are not assigned to educ-
tion), I would have atken no tep
outside for the greater part of my'
WHETHER OR NOT it is good
for a man to be locked up alone all
day may also be debatable. The
hole is usually a deliberate pun-
ishment (even as such, though,
you'd think they'd consider the
great variation between men in
hoy they react; and you'd think
they'd straighten the hole's deter-
rent value by publishing the of-
Tenses instead of leaving it to ru-
Mor) . But you may also be locked
up just because there's nothing else
convenient to do with you. In my
case-not at all ektraordinary-
the prison bus to transfer a group
.of us to our assigned inst tion
wasn't ready- to go for two weeks,
which we spent closely confined
Thus concentrated doses of what
the judge prescribed are admin-
istered without prescriptions.
Similarly with lack of responsi-
bility. A few prisoners have plenty
of responsibility, . more th a n
enough to please them. Not be-
cause it has been judged that this
is what they need to fit them for
a normal life, nor for any other
penological reason; but because
they're suitable and available to
take responsibility for some prison
department where the employee in
charge feels overburdened.
* r r.
MOST GLARING is the incon-
sistency ii cutting off the inmate
from the street. Some inmates get
regular visits from relatives, while
others who need just as badly this
restorative to their street person-Z
alities, and 'who have familes they.
are longing tr see, can't. This is
more often .because the families
just can't afford a trip of.a hun-
dred miles, or a thousand, or what-
ever. Why (suggested one veteran
of four years) couldn't the gov-
ernment pay transportation ex-
penses for some minimum lnumber
of 'visits to each inmate? Or if in
its wisdom the Bureau of Prisons
sees visits as unsalutary, why
doesn't it forbid them to all in-
Again, the 'Bureau encourages
inmates to, have their wives or
brothers line up post-release jobs
for them and may even nake
p~arole contingent on having such
a job.-But then,since an' inmate

willing or efficient eiough, why
doesn't the ,Bureau allow the in-
mate himself to write Jetters to
prospective employers? It is espe-
cially the rootless young occasion-
al thief who suffers from this pro-
scription, and he is exactly the
criminal whose future conduct
would depend most, I'd think, on
starting a regular job soon after
In prison, why not give skilled
jobs like garage mechanic and
steam-shovel operator, not to those
who need the least instruction,)ut
to those needing it most? Loyal
noises are uttered about vocational
training, but that's about all. The
selection of men for a job is pret-
ty haphazard.

Cutting-Room Floor

I CAN'T restrain myself from
mentioning the most miserable
sham of all. It's the one eyent
most directly aimed at influencing
the convict's behavior after re-
lease: the Pre-Release Lecture.
The topics are the inevitable
ones; readjusting to family and
job, avoiding alcoholism, etc. But
lectures! And lectures to audiences
altogether mixed as to age, social
class and offense! Whatever the
lecturer said, it would be inap-
plicable to most of his listeners,
Ineyitably the lectures are dull.
The universal recognition that the
Pie-Release Lecture is pro forma
only, is expressed most clearly by
the wa~y my alma mater selected
those who were to hear it. By
enngth of timA remaining to serve?


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