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October 07, 1979 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-07

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Undnv 07 Q

?_ 1479

LOOKING

BACK:

THE WEEK
IN REVIEW

new government

et another campus acronym was
:wned this week ICSGC, which stan-
for the Inter-College Student Gover-
ent Coalition.
11n hopes of, bringing more student in-
to decisions of University-wide im-
tance, Michigan Student Assembly
presentative Marc Breakstone con-
ened a meeting of student government
fficials of the University's school and
bolleges Thursday night.
THE PURPOSE; according to
Breakstone, was to form a -group that
bould co-ordinate student participation
n policy making areas such as tenure
r class size-issues which affect all
University students.
Breakstone acknowledged the. group

had a "low energy level," but he at-
'tributed that to members not being
totally clear on the purpose of the
organization which is scheduled to meet
again next month.
Most of the discussion centered on the
executive committee of each of the
schools and colleges. Similarities and
differences in the committees were
discussed, as well as ways to increase
student involvement in these commit-
tees which have authority over tenure,
curriculum and other issues.
But the students who attended the
meeting are the same students who
always attend such meetings. And at
this early stage, it remains to be seen
whether he leaders can transmit their
concern to the masses.

were filled with phone calls and camera
lights as he became the focus of Detroit-
based media hype at the hands of in-
dividuals like Al Ackerman and Jerry
Green.
The inevitable comparisons were
made between Schembechler and
Woody Hayes, and there was some
debate whether Bo ought to make a
public apology to Perrin.
Buttthe flap was short-lived and,
despite the publicity, Schembechler
packed up histcrews and went north to
Lansing-without answering the
question.
Ingalls Street
Back in 1963, University planners
devised a long-range scheme to prevent
the University from becoming a mish-
mash of architectural style and over
development.
And one phase of that plan came
closer to becoming reality this week as
Ann Arbor City Council agreed to
vacate the land between the Modern
Languages Building and the Michigan
League.
ON THE SITE, the University intends
to create a pedestrian mall, closing of
Ingalls Street to traffic, although North
University would remain open.
According to the Regents, the deal
was contingent on the sale of two acres
of North Campus University property
valued at $44,000 to the city for a mere
$5,000.
But Council stressed that it decided

the Ingalls Street question independent
of the University's generous offer for
the North Campus land, slated to be
used as a park.
The only rumblings about the plan
came from councilmembers Leslie
Morris (D-Second Ward) and Earl
Greene (D-Second Ward) who opposed
the plan, primarily because the mall
would eliminate 70 parking spaces in
the area servicing Hill Auditorium,
Rackham and the Michigan League.
Landscaping is expected to begin
next summer,as the first phase of the
development of the Ingalls Street area
which will include the construction of
an alumni center behind the Lydia
Mendelssohn Theater.
'U' Cellar
Contract
History was made Friday in the first
contract between the University Cellar
employees' union and the bookstore's
board of directors.
In a festive atmosphere, University
Cellar Assistant General Manager said
the one-year contract "places a lot of
focus on employee participation" in the
operations of the student bookstore in
the Michigan Union.
The contract includes a precedent-
setting clause establishing a joint
committee of board, management, and
union members to "study and produce
detailed plans for a new participatory
structure" for the store.
FELICIA CASSANOS, a negotiator

for the industrial Workers of the World
Local 660, seemed very pleased with the
contract, adding that it enables us "to
begin working together as people again
..ather than on opposite sides.".
But things were not always so rosy
between the two sides. During the
summer, negotiations proceeded
slowly, marred by misunderstandings
and disputes over grievance and hiring
procedures and definitions of the.
bargaining unit.
The union walked off the job for three
days in August because of the progress
in negotiations, and to emphasize the
need for a settlement before book rush.
The signers said the pact would help
ease tensions in the store and improve
services tostudents.
MSA regains
funding
FOR FIVE MONTHS, the Michigan
Student Assembly was paralyzed.
The University administrators had
revoked the Assembly's authority to
fund student organizations, thus kid-
napping one of the body's most impor-
tant functions. Besides immobilizing its
power to hand out crucial financial
assistance, the Regents had put the
future of the Assembly into doubt.
Without the authority to allocate fun-
ds-such a visible sign of the Univer-
sity's domination over student gover-
nment-MSA was forced to revise its
allocation guidelines to get its funding
authority back.
AND NOW, AFTER five months of

frustration, the assembly has regained
that power. In its weekly 'meeting
Tuesday night, MSA President Jitm
Alland told the body's representatives
that he has received a letter from Vice-
President for Student Services-Heniy
Johnson returning funding authorityto
the Assembly.
In order to recapture its power, the
assembly did have to adopt seveal
concessions to appease the school's t'op
brass. The body approved the following
three changes in its financing pro-
cedure:
* To alter the membership of , e
Budget Priorities Committee to
guarantee four non-Assembly seats.
" To introduce an appeals process r
student groups dissatisfied with
Assembly allocations.
" And to establish'procedures for.e
investigation of alleged misuse of M A
funds.
In other business, Assembly meiner
Riase Jakpor called for the creation'of
a standing MSA comiittee to meet t e
needs of international students at the
University. Riase noted that forei n
students constitute nearly six per cnt
of the total student body and that the
creation of such a committee world
help them through the Universit's
bureaucratic maze. The Assembly
voted to hold off on any such action until
its next meeting.
The Week-In-Review was written
by Editor-In-Chief Susan Warner
and Co-Editorial Director Micha I
Arkush.

Bo' s outburst
Bo Schembechler kicked off the week
hen his temper got the better of him
Ionday after a press conference when
e poked, and shoved Daily sports
riter Dan Perrin.
Perrin had asked the coach if he
iight now change his recruitment
icy for kickers, since at that time the
.am had converted on only one of ten
field goal attempts.
BO'S OUTBURST, preserved on
errin's tape recorder, began with the
start of a coherent answer to the

question, but Schembechler then
trailed off and growled: "You guys are
way out of base asking me that damn
question, anyway... What the hell do
you ask me for, when you know it's not
true?"
Then one can hear a racket as
Schembechler shoved Perrin's
microphone down and he is heard
snarling in the background: "Don't try
to make me look bad, you understand,
son, or I'll throw you the hell out of
Michigan football."
Bo later said he had no recollection of
the incident: "I don't even remember,
you know these kids."
And for Perrin, the next two_ days

- I ____________________________

he' £#id4igan 1,iL
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom

Public opinion polls may not
r'PfI tl f i-hz Q 71PXC

I I1%~t.L,11V IM. I 1V 3 V 1V41

Vol. LXXXX, No. 28

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

A'new method to
cure student apathy

OBODY CAN dispute the fact that
' the post-Vietnam era on college
campuses has seen:a heavy decline in
the participation of students in crucial
University issues. Whether it be
estment from South Africa, tenure
professors, or rising tuition and
housing rates, a strong core group of
activists can usually be found. The
leaders, however, have not gathered
together a group of followers.
It has been that lack of substantial
broad-based support which has con-
tributed to the failure of the student
protests in the last few years. The
leaders recognize the problem of
apathy but have thus far come up with
few remedies.
One possible new method to deal
with the crisis surfaced during a
meeting this week between represen-
tatives of a number of University
istudent governments. Unlike a typical
gathering of the Michigan Student
Assembly (MSA), this meeting cen-
tered on establishing a framework for
a campus-wide coalition for one main
purpose. The group wants to seek a
solution to the lack of student con-
sciousness in issues such as tenure,
class size, and the status of graduate
student employees.
It will be a long road ahead for the
current rate of student involvement in
campus issues is so dismal. Very few
students care about whether the
University keeps its money in an apar-
theid regime. You won't find many in
South Quad who would be willing to

stage a protest for a greater student
role in the tenure process. That's just
the reality of the University campus in
1979:.
But it's a reality that can change
with the help of the present members.
of the various student governments.
For it is those students who have ac-
cepted the responsibility to represent
student interests in the constant tug-of-
war between them and the ad-
ministration. These devoted few will
have to come together and coordinate
efforts to reach out to the average
student or else the University will con-
tinue to dominate the battles with
student lobbyists.
In all of the crucial issues over the
last few years, the battle lines have
been the same-the students vs. the
administration. And in almost all of the
outcomes, it has been the ad-
ministration on the winning side not
because it has been right but because it
has had more power.
Many have argued, and rightfully so,
that the outcomes would have been dif-
ferent in a few of those issues if the
leaders of the students' side had
acquired more support from their
peers. That can not be said for sure but
additional student backing-instead of
the current apathy-may make some
goals easier to achieve.
Of course, there's no guarantee that
those sponsoring a campus-wide
coalition can suceed, but it's an effort
long-overdue and worth a try.

The unprecedented "domestic
summit" at Camp David in July
has clearly demonstrated that
the public opinion survey method
is among the great techno-social
inventions of the 20th century.
Few doubt that it has been the
overwhelming weight of a variety
of national and local poll reports
which has illuminated, in no oth-
er available way, the deep con-
cerns, frustrations and anxieties
of the American public with
regard to the mounting .energy
and economic problems.
COPIES OF THE output of the
nation's pollsters which land on
the President's desk each day
have acted as a drumbeat of
public complaint and concern.
Yet for all the ways in which
polling has enhanced the
democratic process, there
remains a fundamental danger.
It lies not in the publication of poll
results, but in accepting any in-
terpretation that implies or
states that public opinion has
been definitely described by the
single poll reported.
In fact, all that has been heard
in most polls is the public's an-
swer to selected questions put to
it by a researcher or a special in-
terest group. Only rarely does
any one poll ever explore most of
the valid alternatives on issues.
MOREOVER, PEOPLE are of-
ten baffled because they cannot
relate to the questions posed.
Frequently, there is no answer,
for some people, that fits the way
a question is posed.
We all can recall childhood
traumas of feeling compelled to
answer such questions as, "What
are you doing here without your
sweater?" Many adults still feel
obliged to try to force themselves
into the answer framework of-
fered by a poll question. The real
problemfor the researcher is to
represent the entire answer
space.
We see more and more conflic-
ting poll reports which simply
show that on many issues the

By Mervin Field_
public does not have settled candidates or otherwise involved
judgments. However, this fact of- in political decision-making.
ten goes unreported and apparen- ARE THEY provieling really
tly does not inhibit pollsters from objective reports, or are they
conveying the idea of having the deliberately or inadvertently in-
latest definitive work on a sub- fluenced by the positions of some
ject. of their political clients? When a
Pollsters too often ask the private pollster proudly'
public for opinions where none proclaims that he will work only,
has existed before. In de'eloping for liberal candidates, or only for,
and testing questionnaires, the conseria'tve candidates, or only
researchers often find that oU aygfor candidates of one party, it
small fraction of the public may makes -me wonder how
be consciously aware of an issue, professional and objective the
However, the fact the public pollster can be.
hasn't given the issue much prior The last and most important
thought doesn't always stop them danger is the growing oppor-
from asking the entire sample its tunity for superficial or patently
opinions. one-sided poll reports to exert
THE HOPE IS that even if a disproportionate weight on public
respondent is ignorant of an policy decisions.
issue, the pollster might be able It is generally recognized that
to tap some latent disposition. to the extent that the com-
And so we press on with questions munications industry, business,
which "educate" the respondent government, or special interest
on the spot to pro and con groups acquire information about
arguments about the issue. Many the public mind, they. acquire a
pollsters recognize that once we kind of power which directly or,
are in the position of "educating" indirectly enables them to
the respondent to the pros and manipulate or take advantage of
cons of an issue, we are on the public. The manipulation
dangerous ground. may take the form of concealing,
All who have had the respon- poll information, making selec-
sibility of drafting questionnaires tive leaks of the information, or
have seen results where the even issuing data known to be
changing of one or more faulty or biased.-
seemingly insignificant words in FOR EXAMPLE,' on March 18y
a question can have a profound a New York Times story.
effect on the distribution of headlined "Poll Says Few Back
replies. When that happens we Soviet Arms :treaty." The story
have the best possible evidence lead said that the. poll found only,
that what we are measuring is 20 per cent of the American
unstable and not well anchored. public in support of the specific;
However, as soon as we report terms of the proposed strategic
these soft percentages, regret- arms treaty between the U.S. and
tably, they become hard in the the Soviet Union.
minds of the public and policy It went on to say that "the poll
makers. was commissioned by a group
Another source of danger in called 'the Committee on the,
public policy polling is that at Present Danger and was inten-
present too much is asked of ded to challenge the findings of
some policy researchers who are polls suggesting that a majority
also researchers for political of Americans favor a new
agreement limiting strategic
weapons. The committee. is a:
private group of academicians
)M ?FO , AM ((,f and former government officials
TIT FA( who support a stronger defense
effort and oppose many
provisions of the proposed
treaty."
The story contrasted the fin-
dings of this poll with an earlier
CBS/New York Times poll report
which found that "63 per cent of.
the public felt that the U.S. should
negotiate a treaty with the
Russians to limit strategic
military weapons.'
THESE TWO POLL reports
'"-exemplify the situation where the
public is offered what appears to
be too highly conflicting poll
reports without interpretation.

general attitude where specifec
knowledge of a particulr
treaty's provisions is nt
required.
The Committee on the Presit
Danger poll combines oa
preference measure with $n
awareness mheasure. Since 30 pOr
cent admitted to being unawate
of the issues, this producedte
result of the preferences addi g
up to just 70 per cent. Of that 0
per cent, 20 per cent stated fla y
that they suported the trea .
An'thif' 41 jer cent said th
want nore, protete
committing themselves to the
treaty. Together, they represint
61 per cent who would appear,It
least, to favor the idea of
negotiating a treaty with th
Soviets-pnly two per cent les
than the CBS poll figure. Looked
at this way, there may actually
be no conflict in the two polls.
WHAT CAN POLLSTERS do to
better fulfill the promise of public
policy research?
First, I believe that we must
recognize that our approaches to
measuring public opinion are
measuring only one component of
a complex mental set.
A longer series of questionnaire
items may give us more oppor-
tunity to tap relevant dimensions.
But, we also know that there is a
limit to tie time that any one
respondent will give in any one
interview. ,
We must be sure ghat the public
is not misled, baffled, or nudged
into answering vague, poorly
phrased, ,discomforting
questions.
WE NEED MORE extensive
public disclosure about the
details of a specific poll's
methodology, its questionnaire
instruments and a complete
report of findings.
I also think we need a new
breed of political analysts who
are all grounded in survey
methodology and can keep track
of pollsters and their results.
Financial reports of companies
get close scrutiny and evaluation
from security analysts. New
books and new plays get thorough
critical attention from people
whose job it is to know and under-
stand the authors' fields. In-
vestigative, reporters and
political analysts pride them-
selves on knowing how to
separate the wheat from the
chaff of data coming from gover-
nment and corporate officials.
This kind of treatt#s'hould
routinely be given to poll reports.
Our leading i'wspapers and
TV networks ar .now spending
large sums of nioney to take their
own polls and to rure Well-paid
commentators and news presen-
ters. These -media institutions
could also take the lead in

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