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March 10, 1963 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1963-03-10
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t. e

tNDERGRADUATE
The Intellectual Catalyst

YEARS.

By DAVID MARCUS
THE UNIVERSITY, so some prophets
envision it, will eventually become a
uptopia sans undergraduates. It will then
be an institution, consisting of only the
academically dedicated. Faculty members
will devote themselves to a mad dash to-
ward academic excellence with their stu-
dents in hot pursuit, as one critic of
American higher education put it. The
undergraduate with his vagaries and
whims, his tenuous academic dedication
and his grade grubbing ways will be a
museum piece on this campus, banished
to the limbo of junior colleges and other
lesser institutions.
There is a very good case for these
conclusions. On the whole, the Univer-
sity's strongest area is not in the field of
undergraduate studies. The University has
tremendous resources for research and
scholarly work; but as a rule, undergrad-
uate students can make little use of them.
Furthermore, the University has more
and more consistently shifted emphasis
from undergraduate studies to other
areas, notably research and graduate
work.
Yet the University retains a commit-
ment to undergraduate education. The
ratio of graduates to undergraduates has
changed only very slightly in the last ten
years, indicating that the University has
not started a program of "phasing out"
the undergraduate programs. Much of the
effort being expended in the field of re-
search in higher education is devoted to
improving undergraduate work. Finally,
projects such as the honors program and
the proposed small honors college indi-
cate an institutionalization of the under-
graduate, the building of a University
structure with some provision for under-
graduates.
THERE ARE many reasons behind this
commitment, some of them educa-
tional and some of them extremely prac-
tical. The Legislature and the citizens of
Michigan would be more than a little
upset if Johnny cannot go to the Uni-
versity as an undergraduate. Further-
more, if the University expects any gifts
from its alumni in the future, it must
continue working with the knowledge
that a bachelor's degree seems to en-

gender more loyality and looser purse
strings than a doctorate.
But the University need not apologize
in such crass terms for continuation of
its undergraduate programs. Baby boom
aside, these curricula exist for a valid
educational reason. For if students are
ever going to get excited about the aca-
demic world, this excitement is going to
happen sometime in their undergraduate
careers. This excitement can most likely
occur in environment offering close con-
tact with the academic world. Thus un-
dergraduate programs at the University
serve a special purpose; hopefully they
stimulate the basic interest and excite-
ment that will encourage people on
through the grind of graduate school.
Now it would be foolish to say the
University is accomplishing this objec-
tive fully. Undergraduate education here
is a ."little like a bargain basement sale
where a student can never be quite sure
what he is getting for his efforts. A good
deal of it is slightly soiled merchandise.
THIS PROBLEM is particularly acute
on the freshman level. The student
with a high educational sophistication
is bound to be disappointed by the steril-
ity of the mass courses. Taught by teach-
ing fellows of enormously varying-qual-
ity, English 123 will impart skills that.
a student with any background already
knows. Similarly, his introductory science,
social science and language courses will
be lecture or teaching fellow taught.
For the less sophisticated who thinks
of the University as being like high
school only harder, the freshman year
provides him with little attachment to
the intellectual community.
The lack of stimulation on the fresh-
man level is one of the major faults of
the undergraduate program. For a few,
it is solved by the honors program. The
honors program, with .all its flaws, has
induced many of the finest faculty mem-
bers at the University to teach on the
introductory and even freshman level.
But this is for a chosen few. The masses
must make do with a general program.
The result of this neglect or at least
superficial treatment of freshmen is
withdrawal. Faculty members are con-
stantly complaining that students are
living in an atmosphere whose basic

" "

MARCH 10, 1

VOL. IX, NO.6

MAGAZI?

Undergraduate Library : The Crucible

THE POPULATION
EXPLOS ION

Concluded from Page Four
Once asked for population-control help,
then what can we do?
At this point a country faces two tasks.
It must first determine what kind of
population policy it needs, then it must
get its people to accept it. Western advice,
and even active participation in gathering
and compiling adequate population sta-
tistics, in interpreting them and in setting
policy goals, and in formulating specific
action-programs would be very valuable.
But when the time comes to "sell" birth-
control ideas to the population at large,
the campaign must be by the natives
themselves. American running through
the countryside, proselytizing birth con-
trol, will likely arouse more hostility than
enthusiasm.
One more very important area in which
our action is important is that of example.
The United States represents, to many
underdeveloped nations, a goal for which
to strive. Our population growth is almost
equal to that of the world as a whole, and
we have no population policy. The obvious
conclusion: such a policy isn't necessary.
And when others see us, apparently pros-
perous and stable despite such growth,
any advice we give them that they should
limit their birth rates sounds rather sus-
picious. What are we trying to do-kill
them off by depopulation, so we can have
the world to ourselves?
It becomes apparent, then, that even
today the separation of man's problems
into "theirs," as opposed to "ours," inso-
far as it -implies no connection between
the two, is illusory. Left unsolved, "our"
problems will obstruct the solution of

"theirs"; and "their" problems will even-
tually become everyone's. And no prob-
lem, as I hope I have demonstrated, is
more basic than that of population.
THE FUTURE, as they say, is in our
hands. The human race is at the end
of its adolescence, at the end of the period
where it could take it easy and make
mistakes and count on Mother Earth to
rescue it. It is emerging into adulthood,
where it must succeed or fail by its own
merits. And the problems of adulthood,
for a civilization as well as for an indi-
vidual, are not small.
To this end we need policymakers to
whom "the future" means more than the
next fiscal year; politicians whose con-
cern extends beyond the next election; in
fact, a whole world of people who are able
to face the facts of their future and will-
ing to act upon them. The roads to sur-
vivaf'are few and the roads to disaster
are many. Unless we begin to seek the
former we shall soon end up on the latter.
Population control is the essential first
step on the road to a successful adult-
hood, but it is only the first step. It will
leave many problems unsolved and may
well create some new ones. But if it can
be achieved, at least then we can turn to
our other problems, seeking creative solu-
tions with hope and confidence.
At least then we can permit ourselves
to look forward, not to a perfect world.
but to a better world-a world where
man livesin harmony with his environ-
ment ,a world where peace and liberty
are possible, and a world where once
again we can honestly call the birth of
a new human being "a blessed event.'

orientation is anti-intellectual. Students
are more worried about parties, dates and
grades than learning something. But
the University and more specifically the
faculty have done little or nothing to
reach these students when they were
forming their original impressions of
University life.
SOMETIMES this trend reverses itself
in the junior or senior year when all
students have the opportunity to come
into contact with some of the finer
teachers. Sometimes a student who is
uninterested or apathetic meets a par-
ticular faculty member, reads a book
or takes a course that awakens an in-
test and enthusiasm within him. But
this process is a difficult and touchy
problem with success always unpredict-
able.
Luckily, a sizeable portion of the ten-
ure level faculty has an interest in teach-
ing undergraduate courses. It is difficult
to gage the exact number of those who
-take a personal interest in these pro-
grams or in which departments they are
concentrated.
Yet they have been unable to solve
the real problem of systematizing in-
tellectual opportunities. The new college
with its small size, its residential charac-
ter and its proposed intellectual orienta-
tion may provide a partial solution.
But acknowledging that the average
student at the University is far from
stupid, what can be done to stimulate his
intellectual interests? Granted that this
is an individual problem that can never
be totally solved, the University still has
the obligation to maximize opportuni-
ties. . . This means setting ut a system
whereby students can have access to at
least some of the great minds at this
institution.
What has happened is that the hap-
hazard expansion of the University has
outstripped older arrangements. In the
days of the depression and the late 1920's,
the University was, by today's standards,
only a medium sized institution. The
growth that has occured since caused the
University to retain essentially the same
system without necessary modifications.
Often only the worst features 'of the old
system were retained.
THUS WHAT started out as a plan to
have small residence hall units has
ended in the monstrous abortions called
South Quadrangle and Mary Markley.
What started out as faculty members liv-
ing in the residence halls ended up as
harried graduate students keeping order.
What started out as a time and money
saving device has ended up as more than
1000 students listening to introductory
psychology lectures in Hill Aud. To the
entering freshman, there must seem to
be little relationship between the class-
room where he is lectured and the rest
of his life.
Yet intellectual energy has not been
snuffed out by these poor conditions. As

one faculty member noted, "I hear com-
plaints from my colleagues from time to
time, but when I look over the really ex-
cellent work being done by some stu-
dents . . ." Further evidence is provided
by University surveys which have found
that contemporary students are doing far
more reading on their own than in past
periods.
This could indicate that students are
more bored and devote time to the things
that please them as opposed to their
classses. Yet if their extra time is spent
in reading, it indicates some ;interest
despite adverse conditions or dissatisfac-
tion.
Whether student interest is high or
low, interest in grades is higher than
ever. Some say that courses are more dif-
ficult which is probably only partially
true. There are of course the pressures
to get into graduate or professional
schools where standards are constantly
rising as they are more and more be-
sieged by applications. The gentleman's
C is dead.
The rush for high grade point averages
usually is criticized severely. The biggest
concern is for the creative student or for
those unfortunates who have not learned
how to con a professor into thinking- they
know something about the course. How-
ever, these students are a very small min-
ority and their problems are probably
without an institutional- solution.
But the grade grubbing, from a slightly
different viewpoint is not necessarily the
worst evil that has hit the University
since women students first entered the
front door of the Michigan Union. It in-
dicates that students are willing to expand
energy. The point is to channel this
energy.
TH IS IS the challenge that faces the
University if it is to continue-and it
will-educating undergraduates. It must
be met on several fronts. It must realize
that the task of undergraduate education
is to interest and direct. It must work to
eliminate the "faceless courses" in favor
of smaller groupings. Those faculty mem-
bers who are interested insundergraduate
education must constantly stand up for
their cause. Some of the more distin-
guished faculty members who limit their
work to the honors program ought to see
their work in a broader context.
Above all, if the University is a com-
munity of scholars, it must realize that
future members and supporters must be
recruited from within the ranks of the
undergraduates. To fulfill . this goal is to
give undergraduate education a context
within the institution.
David Marcus is a junior major-
ing in English. A night editor on
the Daily, he covers the area of
academics for the paper.

China versus Russ:

Undergraduate Educ~

World University Ser

The Population Expl

THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

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