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January 29, 1965 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1965-01-29

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Seventy-Fifth Yeor

Advantages o Plusses and Minuses

Where Opinions Are Free, 420 MAYNARD ST., ANN ARBOR, MICH.
Truth Will Prevail

Nrws Pi-ONE: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staf writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.
Replacing the Grading System:
A Study Group Is Needed...

tion here is more or less disgusted
with the grading system, and it is a
rare educator who hasn't occasionally
nurtured dreams of abolishing it. Yet the
system grows stronger every year.
It rolls on largely because "abolition-
ists" seldom go beyond abolition-they
want to do away with this tired old sys-
tem for evaluating a student's education-
al progress, but they suggest nothing to
replace it. And for at least two reasons,
it seems clear that some sort of evalua-
tive device is needed:
-The world demands it. The people
who will be deciding a student's post-
graduation fate insist on a tangible index,
and most students, unfortunately, come to
college largely for the purpose of acquir-
ing such credentials. Educationally irrele-
vant and even detrimental as such de-
mands may be, they're facts of life.
-The student needs it. Misleading as
the present criteria are, going through an
educational process with no feedback
whatever would be hellish and perhaps
futile. Most students, most of the time,
need to'know what they are supposed to
be achieving and how well they are
achieving it.
-0 RATHER than dream of green pas-
tures, the "abolitionists" should set to
devising a better system.
First, the University must determine

just what changes should occur in a stu-
dent as he passes through his college
years. Is it trying to instill ideals? Teach
facts? Methods? Clear thinking? Spark
creativity? Turn students into humani-
tarians? This step requires a value judg-
ment and. a policy decision based on it.
Second, with this decision made, there
remains an empirical problem: how can
the University test for this quality and
turn the results into a form which indus-
try and graduate schools will find di-
gestible? The answer to this question is
equally crucial-since one's ideals tend
to be shaped by the tests one adminis-
ters (a point overlooked in the present
grading system).
Then, having to decide how it wants
to change its students and having found
a way to test for it, the University's task
would become relatively simple: admit
students with the greatest potential for
this sort of change, and rate graduates
by how much they have changed.
NOW, WHILE the University seems to be
entering a period of academic intro-
spection, is a good occasion to launch a
wide-ranging, officially approved, high-
level inquiry into these questions. How
about a "blue ribbon" committee on the
evaluation of students?
Managing Editor

To the Editor:
I want to write you to endorse
most enthusiastically the pro-
posal to use plusses and minuses
in grading undergraduates. It
seems to me that the proposal
has several significantkadvant-
ages, and no drawbacks except
those deriving from inertial re-
sistance to any change. Since not
all the advantages may be im-
mediately apparent to those who
have not thought about the
problem, let me enumerate them:
1) The grade would m or e
faithfully reflect the student's
performance in a course. This
can be of especial value when
one wants to compare the grades
of several closely grouped stu-
dents in a limited range of
courses, e.g. in determining ad-
mission to honors standing of
borderline cases, where the num-
ber of those admitted must be
restricted or in making recom-
mendations of recipients f o r
awards, etc. As one who has oc-
casionally been involved in mak-
ing decisions of this type, I can
testify that the modification of
grades by the addition of plusses
and minuses would be very help-
ful indeed.
2) By making "in-between"
grades possible, it would serve
to reduce the tension and anxiety
which have increasingly afflicted
students prior to exams, when
the difference of one or two per-
centage points in an exam result
may mean the difference between
one letter grade for the course
and another. Less would ride on
each exam result.
3) For the same reason, it
would make the professor's job
easier by reducing the import-
ance of the choice between al-
ternatives he makes as the gap
between those alternatives is it-
self reduced.
I hope this entirely salutary
proposal will be given the most
careful attention.
- Prof. Martin C. Needler
Department of Political Science
To the Editor:
IN THE last few days, an inter-
esting dialogue has emerged in
your columns with respect to the
current situation in the Congo.
I will not direct my remarks in
this letter specifically to any of
the preceding ones, but rather will
explore some of the implications
of the present U.S. Congo policy.
Let me state at the outset that
I am indtotal disagreement with
our sending of military aid to
Tshombe. The so-called rescue act
cannot be defended, only rational-

ized-and there is a difference. We
rationalize our atrocities by say-
ing that this was done to protect
the "legitimate" government. How
legitimate is this government? It
was not legitimate 18 months ago,
when the present "legitimate"
government was the one we called
"illegitimate." Nor does it control
most of the country.
A map printed in a recent Life
magazine (by no means a sup-
porter of the rebels) showed that
well over half the country was in
Gbenye's hands; only the mining
provinces (because of Belgium
protection) and several cities were
controlled by Tshombe. Indeed,
the rationale of "legitimate" ac-
tion (killing) to sustain "legiti-
mate" governmentsseems to me
to be an obvious illegitimate ex-
ercise if evaluated on any stan-
dards but those of the U.S. gov-
At least, legitimacy is a very
slippery concept. For example, how
legitimate is our activity in South
East Asia when we have never
subscribed to the initial treaties
which established states after the
SIndo-China War; when we have
refused to 'recognize or support
free elections; and when we have
just violated the 1962 Geneva ac-
cord which established the neu-
trality of Laos?
EVEN MORE important, is our
gross failure to understand the
nature of social, political and
economic development in the de-
veloping countries. Our entire ob-
jective is to obtain stability-
short-run stability at all costs-
when, in fact, dynamic social
change must of necessity involve
social instability in order to suc-
cessfully and fundamentally re-
orient existing institutions.
The protection and perpetua-
tion of stable institutions is the
same as arguing for protection
and perpetuation of the present
status quo. This status quo is
precisely what must be shattered
in order to attack poverty and
backwardness in any country, in-
cluding our own. What I am sug-
gesting is that perhaps we should
learn to tolerate some instability
in the short-run, since this is the
only means by which the inertia
can be overcome that is perpetuat-
ed by stable institutions.

in Not Feeling So Good Myself"

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...Comprehensives Are One Way

indistinguishable from studying the
subject itself. The immediate and most
fundamental motivating force behind in-
tensive study in almost all courses is an
exam. As a result, getting a grade has
become confused with what should be
the real objective: achieving the skills,
attitudes and knowledge that the course
is intended to give.:
The best method to restore this objec-
tive would be to institute comprehensive
examinations at the University. These
exams-carrying more weight than just
course grades-could be given toward the
end of the college career, covering a stu-
dent's progress in his major field or cog-
nates. Perhaps the University could start
an exchange program with another school
concerned about the proper role of a
university have come to the aid of dis-
tribution requirements. They claim the
requirements will insure a study of vari-
ous subjects in addition to the field of
Their goal, a complete education, is a
good one, but the means are ineffective.
Forcing a student to take certain courses
violates, that very spirit of a complete
education. If a college student cannot
recognize the value of knowledge in more
than one area of study at this stage of
life, he should not be at a university.
Compulsory courses will do him no good.
The student really interested in learning
will-take other courses on his own.

whereby professors at one institution ad-
minister the tests at the other.
COMPREHENSIVE examinations sub-
stantially orient student thinking
away from the immediate assignment or
the present course. They shift much of
the responsibility for achieving goals and
timing studies back onto the student,
where it belongs.
Comprehensives offer a much more
complete representation of how much a
student is achieving. A student who oc-
casionally cannot do course work for a
specific test date but who makes up for
it by studying at other times is not dis-
criminated against.
Finally, much of the friction between
a professor's two roles is removed by in-
stituting an external grading process like
comprehensives. At present a professor
not only acts as the "active ingredient"
in conveying ideas, skills and informa-
tion, but also must act as an evaluator,
measuring how much the student learns.
This situation often leads to hostility be-
tween student and professor which kills
the student's interest.
AT PRESENT the University probably
could not afford the added cost of
comprehensives for all students.
Perhaps such exams could be paid for
by reducing costs in another sector-say,
by reducing formal credit-hour require-
ments for graduation. Or perhaps the
exams could be instituted in selected de-
partments where they would be most
likely to succeed. Whatever the immedi-
ate possibilities, comprehensive examina-
tions should be seriously considered.
Associate Managing Editor


LET US recognize and admit
what we and the South African
racist mercenaries are doing. The
Belgium and South African mer
cenaries have readily admitted
that they are risking their lives
in order to protect thR white mpn
in Africa. As several South Af ri-
can's have said, if the black man
is successful in the Congo, then

what will happen to our country
(perhaps some freedom), to An-
goa, to Mozambique, and to Rho-
desia? How low our actions are
when we provide the men and the
means to aid what is unquestion-
ably the lowest form of human
now populating the earth-the
white racist.
It is not difficult, under these
circumstances. to understand the
outrage of other African nations.
Had any other response occurred,
my respect would have declined
for these people who have suffered
enormously from the very in-
stitutions we now protect and
seek to sustain.
Oddly enough, we are taught, to
revere those figures in American
history who acted as their con-
science dictated in instigating the
revolution. But let us not forget
that the issues over which that
Revolution were fought pale in
significance when compared to the
issues over which revolutions are
now being fought (or will be
fought) in Africa today.
-Howard M. Wachtel, Grad
Marx Brothers
To the Editor:
I HAVE been reading your mov-
ie reviews since September and
almost immediately realized that
the pictures most severely criti-
cized were invariably the excel-
lent ones. The review of the Marx
Brothers "A Night at the Opera"
by Lee Bromberg, however, is the
payoff for bad reviewing.
The essence of the Marx Bro-
thers' comedy style from its be-
ginnings in vaudeville to its last
picture, "A Night in Casablanca"
is complete and unadulterated in-
sanity. The charm of all the
Marx Brothers movies comes from
the antics of these lunatic bro-
thers, not from "deep character
development," whose absence from
the film is so sorely lamented
by Mr. Bromberg.
The other characters are pri-
marily foils for the Marx Broth-
ers' wacky comedy, and any de-
velopment would only detract
from the action. How could a
snob such as Margaret Dumont
("the wealthy widow") be devel-
oped when her sole purpose in
this picture as in numerous other
Marx Brothers' pictures is to be
de-snobbed by Groucho?
THIS FILM incidentally, as Pi
sure Mr. Bromberg well knows,
was the first Marx Brothers' film
to have any plot at all. The Max
Brothers achieved fame on Broad-
way with their antics and their
first five films for Paramount
were just antics, period. It was
in 1935 when they teamed up
with Eugene Thalberg as their di-
rector in "A Night at the Opera,"
that any sort of plot was given
to their pictures. It was still sec-
ondary, however, to Groucho's
insults and Harpo's mugging.
As for the lack of camera
subtleties, I might point out this
film was made thirty years ago
when camera techniques were
much more crude than they are

To the Editor:
TO QUOTE the Jan. 23 Daily
AP dispatch from Saigon
where anti-government and anti-
Taylor rioting continues, "Some
banners curiously paralleled the
Viet Cong propaganda line. One,
though looking innocent, was
identical to a slogan of the Com-
munist Guerillas, 'W e desire
Democracy, Freedom and Peace
for the Vietnamese People.'"
Somehow, one would expect
that heritage-proud Americans
would consider this an honorable
slogan., inspired by our own
ideals, perhaps. One would cer-
tainly not expect our country-
men to be on the side of martial
law, dissolution of the National
Council and suppression of liber-
ties, but expectations notwith-
standing, such seems to be the
Everything about the situation
in Viet Nam seems to be curious.
We say we are there on the in-
vitation of a friendly government
but our "friend" Diem is long
since dead and he was about as
popular with the Vietnamese as
George III was with our an-
WE INSIST that we are there
in an advisory capacity, but we
complain that the revolving gov-
ernments pay little heed to our
advisors, not even twenty-five
thousand of them.

We keep up the pretense of
the natives doing the actual
fighting but it stretches the
imagination to creditethe illiter-
ate montagnards with a victor-
ious raid by ten U.S. helicopters
as reported in the N.Y. Times,
Jan. 25.
We are killing and being killed
in Viet Nam but no war has been
declared by our Congress as di-
rected by our Constitution.
We draft our young men to
help the Vietnamese to defend
their "freedom" but they don't
seem to think it is worth de-
fending, 30 percent deserting the
army within six weeks.
S *
WE ARE having a hard time
finding tax funds for our schools
and colleges but we are spending
some two million dollars a day
(four billion to date) trying to
teach sullen peasants the fine
art of modern warfare.
We were signers of the 1962
Geneva Accords but, as evidenced
by recent air raids over Laos, we
have been cheating - on the
premise that everybody does it.
(The contagion now seems to
have spread to the Air Force
Academy cadets!)
We are righteous paid-up mem-
bers of the United Nations but
by our military involvement in
Viet Nam, we are in violation of
the charter.
Yes, it is a very curious situa-
tion, indeed.
--Beatrice Henshaw, '33


The Role of the Student

IT WAS ANNOUNCED yesterday that the
working body of the faculty is going
to create a "study team" of students, fac-
ulty members and administrators to probe
the student's role in University affairs.
But the creators and members-to-be of
this committee must undergo the eternal
warning due creators and members of
any such committee: their work must be
carried out in an ultra-practical context.
That the student's role in University
affairs needs some sort of "probing" is
beyond debate. But the key question here
is not whether the issue can be probed
or whether reasonable answers to the
question of the student's role can be
.~4"M . -

meaningful the answers arrived at
will be to the average student-in-the-
street. Faculty committees can study the
issue all they desire, but so long as the
only result of the study is a three-volume
work entitled "The Role of the Student
in University Affairs," they will have done
nothing but waste their time and our
Now, while the committee is still in its
formative stages, those connected with it
should realize that they are taking on
more than the obligation of defining the
student's role. They are also taking on
part of the obligation of bringing that
role into reality.
The student members of the committee
must realize that they have an obliga-
tion to their fellow students not to just

ROBERT CESSNA (left) and Don Cullen were half of the satiri-
cal quartet that starred in last night's Nine O'Clock Theatre pro-
duction of "Beyond the Fringe." Joel Fabiani and James Valen-
tine rounded out the cast of the P.T.P.'s second offering.
A merican 'Fringe' Cast
Dis plays British Satire
T HE PROFESSIONAL Theatre Program last night managed with
obvious success to give Ann Arbor some solid entertainment. Four
bright young chaps, one British-born, the others British in the
casting, chortled through the many skits of the Nine O'Clock
Theatre's production of "Beyond the Fringe"; it's a very fashionable,
very profitable vehicle, fresh from the big city, and the young men
in question handily convinced the very fashionable, full-house crowd
that the admission price had been well spent.
Robert Cessna, Donald Cullen, Joel Fabiani and James Valentine
are the young men whose cups are brimming over with the milk of
human gall. They romp and sidle from scene to scene, pricking the
bladders of theysmug, and roasting joyfully the heroes and the
would-be heroes of the day.
EVERY GESTURE, every line, has a well-honed point, and most
of them find their mark. The Aftermyth of War gently dismembers
the sentimentality with which twenty years has cloaked the memory
of those troubled days; The Scientist and The Duke give us C. P.
Snow and Prince Phillip happily exposing parts of the Establishment,
while the Bollard commercial shatters for all time the rugged appeal
of the Marlboro Man. The crafty juxtaposition of The Philosophers
beside The Great Train Robbery manages whimsically to confront
the patent absurdities of both philosophy's semantic squabblings and
its quarrels with a priori knowledge. The parody of ill-done Shake-
speare is close to the best thing in the show, and its finest moments
roll sonorously forth in the empty, senseless cliches of a modern
churchman sermonizing his flock.
The New York critics, who found all this trick business "side-

Successful Medium
found with Kim Stanley
At the Campus Theatre
"SEANCE ON A Wet Afternoon" is a tightly constructed, carefully
plotted and brilliantly executed "psychological thriller." As a film
it is beautiful.
The story concerns a medium (Kim Stanley), her husband (Rich-
ard Attenborough) and their "perfect plan" to abduct a little girl. The
film carefully documents their actions and emotions as they put the
scheme into effect. Through a thorough acquaintance with their
characters and a gradual understanding of their motivations the film
reveals a haunting inner truth about the nature of human love and
human needs.
The film was written-and meticulously directed--by Brian Forbes
(The L-Shaped Room) with a subtlety and tastefulness that provides
an even and graceful development of tension and plot. No moment is
wasted, nor is a detail added or excluded that might detract from
the overall unity and success of the film. Thus Forbes is able to manipu-
late his characters and his audience to a final catharsis and to create
a memorable and almost flawless motion picture.
NOT ONLY IS the direction of the highest quality, but the acting
is brilliant. Kim Stanley's performance as Myra is more than convinc-
ing. She is able to add significance to each sentence she utters, each
movement she makes and each mysterious pleading smile she gives,
Richard Attenborough, as the husband Billy, is equally fine. There
is reserve and a hint of nobility in his meek submission to his wife's
wishes. Attenborough's performance during the kidnapping scenes is
magnificent. He manages to convey both the terror and fear of his
involvement, a suppressed revulsion at his act, and a hint of the for-


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