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August 19, 1969 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1969-08-19

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Seventy-eight years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

Student polls: Baa, baa, baa

mnartin .1Itirselirai

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.




Woodstock: Tr ipping
with the establishment

Robben Fleming in action for
almost two years, it is only fair to
say that he is genuinely concerned
about student sentiment on im-
portant issues facing the Univer-
sity community.
But just what the president in-
tends to do about student opinion
once he knows it is another ques-
Take the controversy over the
discount bookstore proposal for
At the July Regents meeting,
Fleming took great pains to point
out that he recognized there was
legitimate and widespread student
interest in the creation of a dis-
count bookstore.
BUT INSTEAD of supporting a
proposal, passed overwhelmingly in
a March student referendum, for
a one-time $1.75 fee assessment

NO ONE SEEMS to know quite what to
think of the people who have descend-
ed on Bethel, N.Y., for the Woodstock
Rock Festival, but the establishment is
trying hard to remain disgusted.
In the days preceding the opening of
the festival and the two .days after it
opened the newspapers were filled with
pointedly unpleasant comments on the
traffic jams, the mud and the food short-
age which developed. The whole affair
was presented as being a generally bad
Vot 1g in
Daley town
VOTER REGISTRATION is very impor-.
tant, and the process should not be a
difficult one..But in Chicago voter regis-
tration may have become just a little too
Mayor Daley's town has long been sus-
pected of some strange handling of bal-
lots. During the 1968 election, when the
Cook County vote was held up for so
long, newsmen wryly refused to specu-
late publicly just what was going on. But
everyone had a pretty good idea.
So the better government organization
of Chicago sent investigators to find out
if all those reports are true.
Last week three people were convicted
of buying votes at a dollar or so a head.
And this week, the registration racket
was at least partially exposed.
AN INVESTIGATOR checked in at three.
flophouses\ as Ernest Hemingway,
James Joyce and Henry David Thoreau.
And sure enough, Hemingway, Joyce and
Thoreau soon all magically became reg-
istergd voters on precinct registration
One would think that corruption was
capable of at least a little more subtlety
than that.


for everyone-especially the victim-
residents of the sleepy New York
which had been invaded.

But as the festival moved into its last
days the picture changed. Regardless of
how much they may have wanted it the
press could not obscure the plain facts
coming out of Bethel: the townspeople
and the hip invaders were getting along
quite well.
Surprisingly well, in fact. Lou Yank,
the head of the constabulary in neigh-
boring Monticello through which some
20,000 of the rock followers have drifted
described them in glowing terms:
"Nothwithstanding their personality,
their dress and their ideas, they were
and they are the most courteous, con-
siderate and well-behaved group of kids
I have ever been in contact with in my 24
years of police work."
And the compliments were returned
from the other side of the "invasion." The
kids found the local people "beautiful."
CLEARLY THERE were serious problems
with the festival which cannot be
overlooked. Bad planning and perhaps a
poor choice of location resulted in un-
fortunate traffic and food situations.
Heroin and low grade acid brought bad
trips for many and death for at least two.
But the good aspects of the festival have
clearly been the keynote.
Even the New York Times, at least on
its news pages, broke down from its
haughty disdain. A full' inside page was
dedicated to the concert and the com-
ments were overwhelmingly favorable.
The Times even printed a rather off-
handed story about the drugs going
around at Woodstock which contained
what amounted to a guide to good and
bad acid.
More than the good times and the good
music, perhaps the importance of Wood-
stock will be, as Max Yasgur, dairy farmer
and owner of the festival grounds, sug-
gested, a step toward closing the genera-
tion gap.1

the League (not to mention the
proposed controversial assessment
that would go toward construction
of two new intramural facilities).
And possibly, the president
doesn't have too much respect for
student referenda after all. In
fact, Fleming expresses consider-
able dissatisfaction with whole
structure of student elections.
Specifically, the president cites
the relatively low voter turnout at
SGC elections and argues that cer-
tain segments of the student pop-
ulation-notably graduate stu-
dents and professional degree can-
didates-are poorly represented in
these totals.
The president was especially dis-
mayed by the low voter levels in
the runoff for election of presi-
dent and vice president last spring.
Indeed, he seems to be saying, any
procedure which result in the elec-
tion of the Radical Caucus ticket
must have inherent flaws.
Of course, this is little more
than most SGC members have
openly, admitted and pondered for
a considerable number of years.
But the alternative suggested-
all but monolithically-by Fleming
and other administrators is based
on a misconception of the nature
of the students as a group and
seem strangely designed to paral-
yze student action while offering
little in return.
TO REPLACE student refer-
enda,' the administration is in-
formally suggesting that statistic-
ally valid surveys would be a su-
perior method of gauging student
opinion. And to replace SGC itself,
a larger body withrepresentatives
of the various academic units
could, they say, be formed.
The suggested governmental
structure is far from new. Not only
is it patterned after the faculty's
Senate Assembly, but it is also a
virtual replica of the structure
used to form SGC's infamously
unsucessful constitutional conven-
tion a year ago.
The trouble with this structure
is that it assumes student interests
divide along academic lines. While
i this is certainly true to a sig-
nificant extent among the faculty.
there is little in the education
school, the English department or
the freshman-sophomore honors
program that one would call a
student constituency.
There are exceptions, of course,
and the engineering college ap-
pears to be one of them. But the
engineers themselves have pro-
vided a solid example of the work-
ability of the present system.
A year a g o, with controversy
bubbling over University classified
research, SGC held a referendum
on the question. And a majority of
students - with a strong con-
tingency of voters from the en-
gineering college - voted against
abolition of classified research.
True, referenda do not neces-

sarily show what everyone wants.
But they have a number of fea-
tures that make them far superior
to opinion polls.
calling of a referendum gives stu-
dents a chance to explore the is-
sue and decide on a firm, well
substantiated stand. Surveys tak-
en in a political vacuum tend to
uncover little but ignorance.
For example:
Question: Should student fees
be used, at least in part, to sup-
port construction of two new in-
tramural buildings?
The obvious, easy answer to this
question is "yes." (The question
is, in stubstance, lifted from the
recent Kirscht S t u d y on intra-
mural facilities.) And the "yes"
responses to this question have
been bandied about as support for
the contention that students fa-
vor use of student f e e s for the
The problem is, of course, that
the connection between "student
fees" and "a tuition increase" is
not particularly direct. Yet "use
of student fees" was meant, in the
Kirscht Study to imply a tuition

While the Kirscht Study dis-
closed a favorable response to the
funding question, almost every
group of students that dealt ser-
iously with the problem last spring
took a strong stand against the
tuition hike.
Thus, it would appear that the
closer most students come to the
question - in this case at least -
the more they take a certain spe-
cific viewpoint.
But even if this is not true, the
value of referenda in simply ed-
ucating students on k e y issues
cannot be ignored. Students will
naturally take a greater interest
in University issues if they have
an opportunity to participate di-
rectly in the decision.
Admittedly, these points are
argueable and will be argued. But
they are really only waystations
to an even more pressing question
which grows from recent adminis-
trative interest in student opinion
voice of the students should be
functionally supreme - even if
this power cannot be implemented
structurally it should exist . de

facto. If students want to have a
tuition assessment for a book-
store, they should be allowed to do
so. In a very basic sense this is
their right.
But the whole thrust of admin-
istrative antipathy to referenda
runsecounter to this concept. A
referendum implies - although
the administration has always de-
nied this - that a vote is being
taken and something is being de-
cided. It implies that student
opinion carries political impact in
University decision-making.
An opinion poll, on the other
hand, reduces students to the level
of merely an "input" in the de-
cision-making formula -- a pas-
sive input like so many s h e e p
merely showing their preference
for barley over oats.
Increased student power in de-
cision-making means students are
active participants in the decis-
ion-making process. Filling out a
pollster's questionaire amounts to
about the political participation of
saying "Baaa - more oats."
For Gallup and for Harris and
for curiosity, opinion polls are all
right. But as a replacement for
democratically run elections they
would be a dismal failure.


I %ft9rr9rvlv-

for the bookstore's initial capital,
Fleming invented the theory that
such an assessment would have an
adverse affect on next year's state
The argument seemed convin-a
cing at the time. But, the simple
fact-as confirmed by the chair-
man of the State House Appropri-
ations Committee--is that the as-
sessment would not have taken one
penny from next year's appropria-
Knowing that the Regents were
not about to act favorably on Stu-
dent Government Council's dis-
count .bookstore plan, perhaps
Fleming invented the tuition as-
sessment argument as a means of
creating a diversion in the mind
of the opposition at the tme of
maximum stress.
Perhaps Fleming thought stu-
dents would forget about the ex-
tant analogues-recurring tuition
assessments which now go toward
the health service, the Union and


T 4 E



THE UNA%-?S='S often made
proclamation of serving the
interests of students has been shat-
tered many times by the untidy
intrusion of reality. But the events
surrounding last week's Joan Baez
concert;may provide some of the most
blatant examples of non-cooperation
and downright obstruction on the
part of several Unversity officials
notably in the Athletic Department.
The facts which most clearly dem-,
onstrate this obstruction relate to the'
way the University "convinced" the
Tenants Union to use the Events
" Bldg. for the concert.
Originally, we considered four loca-
tions: Hill Aud., West Park, Fuller
Field, and the Events Bldg. Hill was
already reserved, and West Park also
turned out to be unfeasible. Fulller
Field, though, seemed to be an ex-
cellent location: cheap and nice.

University and


gentle art of



We expended considerable effort to
obtain it, but we made the error of
assuming that the University was, in
general, concerned with us, and went
through the correct channels to ob-
tain the field. This not only prevent-
ed us from obtaining use of the field
and cost so much effort that the
whole concert was almost sabotaged,
but also came close to wrecking the
Blues Festival as well.
Since the Festival had enlisted the
aid of a generally reliable (therefore
nearly unique) administrator with
pull, they had been able to circum-
vent the obstructionists. Sadly, these
were the same people we were being
channeled through.
We began at the Office of Student
Affairs, which contains people of
varying commitment to serving stu-
dent needs. However, even this is
somewhat mitigated by the Office of
Student Organizations Auditor's Of-

fice, which is, essentially, a comp-
trollers office.
The OSO auditor is M. M. Rinkel,
who is a decent guy stuck with a job
that is conceived in paternalism and
dedicated to the proposition that stu-
dents are fiscally incompetent. Since
he was supposed to have the Tenants
Union deposit all concert receipts in
an OSO account, Rinkel was forced
to make the ticket manager (a law
school graduate), and the concert
manager (a math graduate) feel that
the University didn't trust us to run
our own affairs. Eventually we were
able to convince him that we were
competent to handle funds ourselves,
in violation of previous policy.,
While the OSA and the OSO are
fairly subtle in not serving students
needs, while appearing to do so, the
Athletic Department goes through
few such gyrations. Instead, it pro-
ceeds in straigthforward fashion to

ignore student needs. For which serv-
ice students pay large sums of money.
This is not surprising when one re-
calls that Don Canham has indicated
that his prime responsibility as Ath-
letic Director is to fill the Stadium
and the Events Building.
HOWEVER, the Athletic Adminis-
tration was hardly indifferent to our
needs. Rather, they were acutely
aware of one specific need-a place
to have the concert. They were also
aware that if they could convince
(read: coerce) us that the Events
Bldg. was the place for us, then they
would be able to rake in all the profit
from parking and concessions, and
charge us for all operating costs.
More important, they could charge
us $2500 rent-for a building that is
being paid for primarily out of stu-
dent fees. These revenues which
would accrue to the Athletic Depart-

ment were, obviously, the motivating
factors behind all the trouble they
gave us. For, while Fuller Field was
cheap, and therefore ideal for our
purpose (fund raising), the Athletic
department would not be able to col-
lect rent, nor would they be able to
run concessions, or charge adollar
for parking. Therefore, Fuller Field
did not satisfy what they defined as
their purposes. Keeping their inter-
ests in mind, the Athletic Department
set about to convince us to use the
Events Bldg.
The methods of persuasion they
used were diverse. For a while, their
tactic was ignoring our requests for
information about Fuller Field. The
first person we talked to in the Athle-
tic Department was Dale Phelps, who
works for Rod Grambeau, director of
intramurals. Phelps said he lacked
authority to grant permission to use
the field, but seemed optimistic about
our chances when we told him about
the Blues Festival. He told us he'
would get in touch with Grambeau,
from whom we could learn about the
decision in a couple of days.
WHEN WE SPOKE to Grambeau,
he puts us off, saying he did not have;
adequate information. He added that
he had not known about the Blues
Festival's use of the field. But he did
indicate that it was within his au-
thority to grant us use of the field,
although he would prefer to check
with Canham.
He told us to check in a couple of
days. When we did, we learned that
Grambeau was on vacation, and that
we would generally be dealing with
Phelps and Canham. During this per-
iod, approximately July 1 to 10, we
were shuttled between Phelps, Eckert,
who heads the Plant Department, and
No decisions were being made, and
the concert date was coming closer.
Phelps, who had no authority, told us
that he had talked to Canham sev-
eral times. but that no progress had

Canham told me the same thing
Grambeau had the first time I talked
to him: he wasn't sure if we could
use the field because it might hurt
the re-seeding program for fall IM's.
In three weeks the Athletic Depart-
ment hadn't changed its posture at
all, in spite of all our efforts, and in
spite of efforts by people from OSA
to get the Athletic Department to a
meeting which might reach a decis-
It was becoming clear t h a t the
Athletic Department w a s trying to
force the Baez concert into the
Events Bldg. by pocket vetoing the
other alternative.
The final decision to move into the


prevented any student or-
from bargaining with any
office o v e r financial
in the use of the building.

THE MECHANICS of this are rel-
atively simple. Once an organization
has deposited money in Rinkel's of-
fice, as ithmust do in order to hold a
concert, hen the University office in
question simply files the b l l with
Rinkel's office. The money is then
automatically released, without au-
thorization from the student organ-
ization that' is footing the bill. This
is different from the procedure on
"outside bills," which must be au-
thorized by officers of the student
organization before being paid. The
University offices are assured of pay-
ments, even if it forces the account
of the student organization into the
red. When this happens, as would be
the case if the Tenants Union tried
to negotiate the price of the Events
Bldg., the difference is made up out
of money from OSA. T h u s, in the
specific case of the Events Bldg., bar-
gaining is made difficult because the
Athletic Department is guaranteed
payment and there would be a good
chance that the University could
cloud the issue by claiming the Ten-
ants Union was manipulating student
BASICALLY, the University oper-
ates in ways which obstruct students
from realizing their needs. First, it
charges student organizations ex-
tremely high rent to use a building
for which students are eventually go-
ing to pay nearly $6 million dollars in
fees. And as yet students have little
say in how these fees are used. Sec-
ondly, through Rinkel's office, it has
set up a mechanism that makes it
impossible for student organizations
to bring direct pressure against the
offices with which they may wish to
bargain. Finally, the University has
set up a defense mechanism which



Don Canham

Events Bldg. was precipitated by
some information we received from
OSA staffer Nancy Hessler concern-
ing the Ann Arbor Police. She was
told we would have to hire up to 200
c o p s to police an outdoor concert.
However, even had this not happened,
the concert would have been forced
indoors by the Athletic Administra-
tion's refusal to act upon o u r re-

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