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June 26, 1968 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1968-06-26

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v Skijan D I
Seventy-seven years of editorial freedom
Edited cAd managed by students of the University of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

The 'other side' looks at student power

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

I '

Editoriols printed in The Michigan Daily exp ress the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must 1e noted inaoll reprints.




Gun control:
Not the only !answer

E CRUSADE for stiff gun control
legislation which is jeing waged with
such commendable vigor by many citizens
and some of their representatives seems
headed for major victories.
One title of the anti-crime bill signed
by President Johnson last Wednesday
night forbids interstate traffic in hand-
guns and prohibits the sale of handguns
to minors. Congress is working on an-
other Johnson proposal to outlaw inter-
state sale "of rifles, and yesterday the
President proposed to Congress legislation
requiring the registration and licensing
of every firearm in the country.
Gun-control curbs do indeed have wide-
spread grass-roots support. After the
murder of Sen. Kennedy, some cities pre-
viously without gun laws passed them.
Many newspapers are waging strong cam-
paigns for stringent controls. Groups of
prominent citizens and students are cir-
culating petitions. Polls indicate an over-
whelming majority of the American peo-
ple favor legislation of some sort or an-
Hopefully, the drive for strict controls
will be successful. Yet considering the im-
passioned, almost reflexive fervor which
surrounds so much of the gun control
campaign, a few words of caution are-in
order. The projected results of gun con-
trol legislation need to be viewed realistic-
ally; the large and forbiding problem of
violence needs to be seen in some per-
spective, for implicit in gun control ef-
forts is a rather simplistic approach to a
complex problem; finally, the dangers of
the kind of logic being advanced by pro-
ponents of the legislation must be realized
and assessed.
TH1E STATISTICAL evidence on guns is
convincing, as far as it goes. Murders
by guns in the United States are multi-
plying yearly at a tragic rate. The availa-
bility of guns is almost undoubtedly a
factor in murders of passion. And gun
murders as a percentage of population are
far more numerous in the United States
than in many other countries, especially
those with strict gun laws.
Thus, it is reasonable to expect that
laws ending the easy traffic in arms, as
well as licensing and registration re-
quirements, will have some effect on gun
murder statistics, especially by keeping
guns out of the hands of dangerous 'ele-
ments in the population. But how much
In the first place, all of these statistics
indicate ctrrelations, not causes. They
show that where gun laws are weak, gun
murders are more frequent; they in no
way prove that the absence of strong con-
trols causes high gun murder figures or
that strong controls will of themselves
substantially lower the figures. There are
other causes of gun murders, other dif-
ferences between the nature of the Amer-
ican society and, say, the British society,
which the statistics do not take into ac-
count and which will persist even after
the passage of strong gun contr'ol legis-
Besides this theoretical difficulty, there
are a number of practical problems. The
gun lobbyists, although they are generally
irresponsible in their self-interest, are
at least right in saying that those who
really want guns will get them anyway.
How will the registration requirement be
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Sum mer Editorial Staff
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DANIEL OKRENT ....... ............... Co-Editor
LUCY KENNEDY ,....... Sunner Supplement Editor

enforced against those who already own
guns and who choose to defy the law?
The police "cannot and .will not search
every home in the nation for guns. A
black market will develop for those who
don't now own guns but really want them.
Furthermore, who knows for sure who
the "dangerous elements" are? There are
undoubtedly many Americans who neither
have criminal records nor are mentally
ill who nevertheless are potential mur-
As for murders of passion, there are so
many lethal weapons in the average
kitchen or workshop to prevent, any gun
control law from completely eliminating
such crimes. All this is not to say that
gun control legislation shouldn't be pass-
ed, or even that it will be completely in-
effective. It is merely to point out that
even the strictest gun control legislation
falls several notches short of panacea
MANY ARGUE that American society is
violent by nature, and the compara-
tive statisticsare unquestionably on their
side. Nobody knows why for sure, although
there are many theories: the frontier
heritage, the competitiveness and frustra-
tion inherent in capitalism, and the social
divisions inherent in pluralism. Our high
gun ownership and gun murder statistics,
the glorification of violence in our pop-
ular culture, and the Vietnam War are
symptoms, not causes, of that endemic
violence. Because the results are tragic
and irreversible deaths, it is necessary to
deal with the symptoms while at the same
time probing for the causes. Hence, gun
control legislation; hence, ending the
ruthless disregard for human life which
characterizes our foreign policy (or, as
I. F. Stone put it, "the gun control should
begin in Vietnam and at the Pentagon.")
Still, when treating symptoms we must
never forget that we are doing only that:
treating symptoms. If we would really end
violence, we must sit down publicly and
privately and attempt to discern what it
is in our lives, what' it is in our society,
that makes us violent -
FINALLY, WE must remember that the
use of correlative statistics as evi-
dence in discussions of social problems is
dangerous. The anti-crime bill signed by
President Johnson last week contains one
title which illustrates exactly and tragic-
ally the translation of faultily used statis-
tics into bad public policy. Recent Su-
preme Court decisions demanding strict
adherence by police and prosecutors to
the Bill of Rights in the use of evidence
have not caused the increase in crime
which occurred during the same years,
and there isn't a shred of statistical evi-
dence to prove that the Court decision
substantially hampered society in its
rightful task of prosecuting criminals.
Yet Congress in the second title of the
bill presumptively "overturned" the
Court's landmark decisions, and at the
same time took us one step further down
the road to 1984.
The logic of correlation emanating from
the anti-crime law and to some extent
from the fervor over gun control now
poses a similar threat to freedom of
speech. In the same breath with gun
curbs, some proponents are beginning to
talk about censoring books, movies and
television programs which are "violent,"
whatever that means. The Vietnam War
is violent, guns are an instrument of
violence, but when the logic is applied to
speech or entertainment or information
which "incites violence," the flaws in the
logic are made manifest, These flaws can
be tolerated when the issue is murder,

first hand; when we. start talking about
causes and causes of causes, then we must
begin carefully to weigh benefits against
detriments; certainly, we had better be
pretty sure we know what the causes are
before we begin indiscriminately to out-
law them, especially when such rock-bot-
tom basic freedoms as those of speech
and publication are at question.
(UN CONTROL legislation will undoubt-
edly mean fewer gun murders, even
if not as few as some of its proponents
hope. The concern with gun control also

The following appraisal of
student power and university
government is an editorial re-
printed from the June 1, 1968,
issue of Fortune magazine.-Ed.
here is no mystery about
the purpose of the radical
student leaders who are staging
the 1968 version of "revolt on
the campus." These youngsters,
organized in the Students for a
Democratic Society (SDS), are
acting out a revolution-not a
protest, and not a rebellion, but
an honest - to - God revolution.
They see themselves as the Che
Guevaras of our society, and their
intention is to seize control of
the university, destroy its present
structure, and establish the "lib-
erated" university as the redoubt
from which to storm and over-
throw "bourgeois" America. That
is what they say they are doing-
they are the least conspiratorial
and most candid of revolutionists
-and this is what in fact they
are doing.
The whole thing is utterly ab-
surd, of course. Indeed, its very
absurdity gives these students a
formidable, if temporary, advant-
age. Because they are such a small
minority no one-not the faculty,
not the parents, not the adminis-
tration, not the press, not the civil
authorities-can take this revo-
lutionary enterprise seriously. So
the instinctive reaction is to in-
terpret literally the students'
"immediate demands" (as the
SDS calls them), whether, these
involve parietal rules, disciplinary
regulations, or student represen-
tation in the various decision-
making councils of the university.
The adults persuade themselves
that the demand for "student
power" represents an authentic
desire to be more intimately in-
volved in, and integrated with
the university community. SDS,
in contrast, with a frankness that
would be commendable were it less
paranoid in substance, explains
to all who will listen that "stu-
dent power" is simply the first
stage on revolution's way, that
"immediate demands" will prolif-
erate until the university has been
transformed into a revolutionary
institution' It really matters little
that those SDS leaders are blurry
about the revolution's goals; an-
archy can be a powerful end in
Since the student radicals know
what they are doing, while every-
one else assumes that they can't
really mean it, the radicals are
always in a position both to pre-
cipitate d crisis and to define the
rules according to which it is to
be played out. They know that if
the administration is forced to
call in the polite, and if just
enough resistance is offered to
ensure some bloody heads, both
the student body and the faculty
will feel impelled-as fellow citi-
zens of "the academic communi-
ty"-to come to their defense. At
Columbia University last month,
dozens of first-class minds spent
hundreds of agonized hours try-
ing to "mediate" so that police
would not have to be called in.
All this time, the SDS was calmly
and publicly planning its strategy,
which was to "escalate" the "con-
frontation" to the point where the
police would have to be called in.
NOW IT IS TRUE that this

account leaves many other in-
teresting questions unanswered.
We would like to know, not why
radical students exist at Colum-
bia-they exist everywhere-but
how it is possible for them to
have the- kind of fantastic view
of American society that under-
lies their strategy of "guerilla, op-
erations." Since they certainly had
no such fantasies in their heads
when they were graduated from
high school, this is something
they must have learned while in
and around the university. Where
and how did they come to it? Ob-
viously, there is more to the edu-
cational process than is to be
found in the formal curriculum,
but in this instance the gap be-
tween what the professors teach
and what the student chooses to
learn is astonishingly large.
We would also like to know why
the majority of the students, who
are neither radical nor fantasists,
appear to be so morally disarmed
before the militant minority, and
so intellectually defenseless a-
gainst its logic. Here again, some-
thing is amiss: Columbia, one of
the nation's great universities,
seems incapable, of educating its
students to think seriously about
the most serious issues of the good
life and the good society.
Still, students are what they
are, and American education is
what it is, and everyone knows
that the American campus is a
troubled place. But it is not at
all, clear why, if everyone knows
this, no one does anything about
it-why a troubled campus is per-
mitted to dissolve into a chaotic
turmoil. The art of government,
after all, is to cope with such
trouble and to avoid such tur-
moil. So the most interesting and
urgent question of all is: What
happened to the government of
our universities?
of the newly installed university
president who gave an inspiring
talks to members of the assembled
faculty, expatiating on splendid
things the university intended to
do for them. At the conclusion of
the talk, a senior professor arose
and calmly remarked, "But Mr.
President, we are the university.
This anecdote is a great favorite
in faculty circles, and understand-
ably so, since it is such a neat
put-down of the arrogant ad-
mininstrator. Once upon a time
it even pointed out a real truth:
the university indeed then was the
faculty, with the administration
as mere handmaiden and the stu-
dents being present on suffrance.
But that was ages ago, in another
world, when studying at a univer-
sity was a privilege, not a right,
and when the university itself
was a small and simple institu-
tion. Today the proposition that
the faculty is the university,
though fondly repeated by profes-
sors on suitable occasions, is mis-
leading and self-deceptive.
The faculty can be the univer-
sity, to begin with, only if they
are permanent residents therein.
But our faculty today largely con-
sists of nomadic types-mobile
members of a profession who
happen to be located temporarily
at one institution or another. It
is uncommon to find\ a professor
who has ever bothered to read
the charter, or bylaws, or con
stitution of "his" university. He

is simply too busy-with research,
and departmental politics, and
teaching, usually in that order-
to distract himself with such
trivia. v
And heis certainly far too busy
to get involved in the immense
and complicated activity that is
now the proper business of the
university administration. This
activity includes continual fund
raising from alumni, negotiating
for government money, dealing
with the Cafeteria Workers Union,
recruiting nurses for the univer-
sity hospital, supervising the uni-
versity police force, etc., etc.-to
say nothing of attending to the
personal and professional prob-
lems of; say, 2,000 faculty mem-
bers and 25,000 students. It was
because such tasks were uncon-
genial to-nay, abhorrent to-the
faculty that the administration
came to be the large and powerful
organization that it is in today's
any real moral authority. This is
why, though the administration
rules, it does not govern, in the
full meaning of that term. And
this is why, when a crisis erupts,
the seemingly vast powers of th
administration are seen to evapo-
rate overnight. It is not much of
an exaggeration to say that the
power of the administration ex-
ists only when it is not challenged.
For moral authority still rests
with the faculty. It is the faculty
that is illustrious, while the ad-
ministration tends to be anony-
mous. t is the composition of the
faculty that determines whether
a university is ranked "first class"
or "second rate," It is the faculty
who are the nationally known
"experts" on all kinds of prob-
lems-including problems of ad-
ministration. So long as the daily
routine is undisturbed, this fac-
ulty is passive and self-absorbed.
But when a student rebellion
breaks out, it is the faculty that
promptly moves to stage front
and is adjudged by everyone to
be the proper arbiter of the situa-
Unfortunately, all the instincts
of the faculty are in the direction
of "appeasement" of student mili-
tants. American professors, like
American parents, want desper-
ately to be popular among their
'youthful charges. It is difficult
for a professor to assume an ad-
versary posture toward "his"
young people as it is for a parent
-and this regardless of how un-
ruly, disobedient, and offensive
the young people are. A profes-
sor, after all, has to "live with"
his students in a way that a dean
or college president does not. So
the first reaction oft he faculty
to a student rebellion is to criti-
cize the administration: for in-
epitude, for shortsightedness,- for
bureaucratic unfeelingness. This
is what happened at Columbia.
For years, the faculty there has
displayed not the faintest interest
in the problems the administra-
was trying to .cope with. Now, it
suddenly discovers-and announ-
ces-that the administration has
been doing the wrong things, or
the right things in the wrong
SO WHAT WE seem to have
in the American university is a
situation in which the faculty




won't govern and the adminis-
tration can't. And onto this scene
move the protagonists of "stu-
dent power" threatening to, make
a three-ring circus out of a two-
way stalemate.
It is important to emphasize,
at the risk of repetition, that
"student power" means something
entirely different from student
participation in forms of self-
government, especially as pertains
to matters of discipline. This al-
ready" exists at most. Aimerican
universities, and where it doesn't,'
it is because there is so little in
the way of discipline to begin with
that no one much cares about its
exe cise. "Student power" is a
program for governing, not stu-
dents, but the faculty and the ad--
What the advocates of "stu-
dent power" want is a voice-a
determining voice, if possible-in
the establishment of the curricu-
lum, the selection of faculty, the
allocation of university expendi-
tures, the relations of the univer-
sity to government, and so on.
Moreover, they have made it per-
fectly clear that they want this
power, not to improve either their
education or their administration
'-in both of which they are quite
uninterested-but to make the
university "a revolutionary force"
in society. Here again, let's note
that it is extremely difficult for
an outsider to believe they really
mean what they say. It' is natural
to discount these ambitions and,
attribute their exprsssions to un-
inhibited youthful exurberance.
Even the faculty at Columbia, who
should appreciate how things
stand, keeps persuading itself that
it knows better than these stu-
de'nts what they really want. But
in this case it is the students
who know better.

THE EFFECTS OF the campaign
for "student power," backed up
by sit-ins; strikese, riots, boycotts
of professors, etc., are already
noticeable. The faculty, for its
peace of mind, will be willing to
concede these students the right
to intervene in administrative de-
cisions. The administration, partly
out of spite, partly ott of des-
peration, will be willing to con-
cede to these students the right
to intervene in what has hither-
to been faculty decisions. Mutual
recrimination will become the nor-
mal mode of discourse between
these two adult groups.,Mean-
while, the radical students will
be able, as the only force on cam-
pus that knows what it is doing,
to impose their will, even though
in numbers they constitute only +
a small fraction of the student
body. You can't argue with suc-
'cess: and SDS has yet to lose a
There are those who will say
that this bleak krospect is too
apocalyptic, that we are witnes-
sing a temporary campus fad, and
that "normalcy" will and must
prevail. What's what was said at
Berkeley four -years ago; t hat's
what is being said at Columbia
todayu that's what they'll be say-
ing at Princeton or Harvard to-
These assurances by now rings
hollow. It is as clear as can be
that the American university is
in a major constitutional crisis,
and that claos will extend its
sway until a new answer is pro-
posed to the eternal - political
question: Who governs?
toT ovewvs
IF PAOBLEMS over Vietnam
attend the image-making of
, the "new Humphrey," they also
beset the candidacy oc the new *
"new Nixon." But to Sen. Mark
Hatfield (F-Ore) the latter are
suddenly less serious.
Earlier this yearI, Hatfield -
an outspoken and sensible critic
of the war -' said he believed
. Gov, Rockefeller's Vietnam views
were sufficiently flexible to unite
the party. Now, five and a half
months later, he has endorsed
Nixon, although Rockefeller's
emergent views are far clearer
than they were in January.
After a private conference here
this week with the former Vice
President, Hatfield conceded that
Vietnam remains the 'campaign's
-"overriding issue" but declared
that Nixon-as much a hawk as
the Senator is (or was) a dove-
could "sucessfully resolve" the
conflict, Newsmen probing furth-
er elicited Hatfield's frank ad-
mission that he wouldn't mind
being Nixon's running mate this,
fall. It was Sen. Henry Clay who
asserted: "I would rather be right
than President." , Sen. Hatfield
may be one of the few who would
rather be Vice President than
* " *
RELUCTANTLY signing the so-
called "crime control" bill into
law, President Johnson justified
approval on tree ground that the
measure was "more good than
bad." It is imnossible to under-
stand his computation. By any
responsible judgment of its four
major sections, it is at least 50 ppr
cent atrocious and 25 per cent
The least controversial title is
the first, authorizing substantial
federal grants to improve local
law enforcement. The inadequate
section is the last, providing lim-
ited gun controls; the Admini,
tration hopes it will be substan
tially fortified by the legislation
now pending but it is hardly
"good" enough as it stands.
In between are the two sections
devised by Congressional reac-

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