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January 17, 1979 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-17

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Page 4-Wednesday, January 17, 1979-The Michigan Daily


uhae Mic-gan e tl
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Ml 48109
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom

The story behind the story

Vol. LXXXIX, No. 89

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

The Regents fall short

Student Assembly (MSA) refused
to participate in the Regents'
presidential selection process because
there was no assurance that students
would actively participate. We said
then that MSA had made the right
move. The process virtually excluded
any kind of real student representation
in the choosing of a new University
president. Despite all the politicking
behind closed doors, vague assurances
from the Regents, and good faith
bargaining, the process remains
undemocratic and students still do not
have adequate representation in the
selection of a new president.
What most student representatives
would call adequate participation in
the process is the ability to interview
prospective candidates. The Regents
have the legal responsibility to choose
a new University president. No one has
contested that point. But students just
want to make sure that the Regents do
not pick someone who is oblivious to
student needs. This, they say, could be
learned, at least partially, through
interviews with prospective
In November, the Regents passed a
resolution which gave some vague
assurance that students would be able
to actively participate in the selection
process "somewhere down the line.'
Acting on good faith MSA then decided
to go along with the process. MSA
picked a student committee which
joins faculty and alumni committees in
the search process. MSA indicated,
however, that it would withdraw its
support of the process if, among other
things, the Regents would not assure,
in writing, by the February Regents'
meeting that the student search
committee will have the right to
interview candidates.
In a meeting with the student
presidential advisory committee the
Regents refused to clarify the meaning
of active participation "somewhere
down the line." The Regents said they
had not yet discussed many of the

details of the process. Regent Robert
Nederlander (D-Birmingham)
explained that the Regents "have not
gotten to these issues because we've
been too busy getting these
committees together, getting the needs
(of the University) statements
By Regent Nederlander's words it
sounds as though the Regents have a
tough job on their hands. The Regents,
however, do not form the committees,
two of which were formed last year.
The faculty, student, and alumni
groups are responsible for that task.
The needs of the University statements
are reports written by each search
committee on the goals of the
University and what qualities a
president should have. The Regents
merely accept the statements. The
Regents' excuse of being "busy''
seems to be-a step to the side and an
indication of the real problem in the
selection process.
The students have been more than
fair to the Regents in the selection
process debacle. They have justly
stated their position; the students have
shown their willingness to compromise
and have demonstrated that they do
trust the Regents. Unfortunately, the
giving has been one-sided. The
Regents, who hold all the cards, have
given the students nothing to date. The
Regents have not compromised; they
guard their statements and refuse to
make their intentions clear. Indeed,
the Regents do not seem to even trust
the students. The Regents have
expressed a concern that students
might reveal the names of candidates.
Unless ,the Regents can be
completely honest about their
intentions and can define the role of the
student search committee to the
satisfaction of MSA, then MSA should
not hesitate to withdraw its support of
the process. There is no need for
students to legitimize a process which
is clearly undemocratic and contrary
to the basic principles for which this
University is supposed to stand.

The Political Science
Department's decision to fire
dissident professor Joel Samoff
should be opposed by everyone
connected with the University of
Michigan. In my view, the
department's action is not
merely an unfortunate error in
judgment; it is symptomatic of
an inversion of values which
counters the educational process.
Student supporters of Samoff
have publicized his innovative
teaching methods. They have
also emphasized that his ability
to design new courses which
apply scholarly study to central
political issues of our time sets
him apart from the quantitative
reseach orientation of many of
his colleagues.
It has also been demonstrated
that Samoff conceives of service
to the university in a "higher"
sense than those who simply
carry out routine duties. Samoff's
contributions have been
registered in regard to minority
recruitment, in probing the
university's connections with
South Africa, in his attempts to
establish courses in Political
Economy outside the
mainstream of Political Science
studies, in his establishment of a
collection of films on Africa with
a state-wide and national
reputation, and in his consistent
stand on behalf of student
participation in the decision-
making process.
Samoff is such a dynamic force
in campus life that, according to
the meager information
available, the Political Science
Department has conceded that
his teaching and service are
outstanding. Consequently, the
department has been forced to
focus its criticisms on Samoff's
scholarship - which is less
familiar to the campus
community - and it has been
assessed as inadequate in
Students are entirely correct in
recognizing that the teaching
and service activities of faculty
members are what affect them
most directly. Yet it ought to be
acknowledged that, in many
cases, scholarly achievement is a
reflection of a teacher's
classroom and service
orientation. In fact, it is
advisable for students who are
interested in associating with a
particular faculty member - as
a teacher, advisor, author of a
reference, or dissertation
director - to examine his or her
Teachers who are not
motivated to transform their
ideas into books, articles, and
conference papers for wider
circulation may have little to
offer that is original or have a
lackadaisical attitude toward
their field. Teachers whose
scholarly work limits itself to the
traditional, or else trails after
academic vogues, may not be
receptive to students who are
inner-directed and anxious to
pioneer new areas. Teachers

By Alan Wald

whose scholarship is aimed at
enhancing their own professional
stature and which is divorced
from the goal of seeking truth in
the interest of improving society
may have a bias against students
for whom learning and social
change are connected. Teachers
whose scholarship reflects the
interests and outlook of the elite
classes of the world may well be
insensitive to the values and life
experiences of oppressed and
exploited social groups.
In the case of Samoff there is a
direct line on continuity between
his teaching and scholarship. His
outstanding qualities in one area
are also manifest in the other.
Samoff pioneered and remains
one of the outstanding figures in
the application of
underdeveloped and dependency
theory to local level politics in
Africa. For some teachers, the
publication of a first book is their
crowning schievement and not
surpassed for a number of years.
But for Samoff Tanzania: Local
Power and the Structure of
Politics (University of Wisconsin,
1974) was only his initial stepping
stone. Since its appearance he
has issued a steady stream of
essays and conference papers,
devoting his citical acuity to
examining the epistemology and
methodology of Western social
science and to demystifying the
socio-economic background of
the unfolding events in South

Samoff's scholarship in some
way, since the facts about this
aspect of his achievement are
less widely-known on the
In these remarks I have used the
word "fired" rather than the
euphemism "denied tenure."
While ther are undoubtedly
unique features of the tenure
process, the Samoff case
indicates that under the present
system a professor receives
treatment not qualitatively
different from any worker who
has offended superiors and must
pay the pricenofbeing denied a
livelihood. And, like other
workers, Samoff can only rely on
aggressive action by fellow
Workers - in this case, al-
lied with students - to
recognize that his victimization
in an injury to all and to turn the
situation around.
In the face of growing
opposition it is possible that the
Political Science Department
may try to defend its action by
insisting that, in the name of
"academic freedom," it has the
right to run its internal affairs.
And it is true that, were the
situation somewhat different -
for example, were the College
Executive Committee
intervening in the department to
overturn a decision to retain
Samoff-many of us would be
defending the right of the
Political Science Department to
stand its ground.
But there is no contradiction in
these positions. "Academic
freedom" in an abstract term
and has been usedby all sorts of
people to justify a wide variety of
positions - including, most
recently, the right to spy on
colleagues and assist secret
government agencies. But such
abuses of the term do not mean
that we should scoff at
"academic freedom" as a goal;
rather, in cases like this present
one, we must carefully examine
the concrete situation in order to
determine the course .of action
which truly leads to that goal.
In regard to Samoff, the
Political Science Department has
grossly offended the rest of the
university in trying to eliminate
one of the truly extraordinary
figures on our faculty. This is not
merely a "political firing"; the
Political Science Department is
trying to oust precisely the kind
of a teacher-scholar who should
be held up as a model to inspire
other teacher -scholars.
Therefore, the struggle against
this firing is indissolubly linked to
a larger issue. This is the
struggle to forge the kind of
society in which creative
scholarship and socially-
committed teaching are singled
out for praise and are not cause
for discrimination-or, as in this
case, outright persecution.
Alan Wald is an assistant
professor in the English
Department and in the
Program in American Culture.

S.amoff can document that his
studies have received
widespread and overwhelming
praise from specialists in African
politics; and, in my own view,
they are testimony to a rare
combination of social
commitment, creativity, and
sound, meticulous 'esearch. His
interdisciplinary approach
counters academic parochialism.
In short, Samoff is more than
qualified as both a teacher and
scholar for a tenured position in
Political Science. Yet the
department is determined to oust
this dissident element who holds
a different conception of the role
of the teacher-scholar in an
educational institution.
For the Political Science
Department the situation is
complicated by the fact that,
during the past fifteen years, the
level of consciousness at the
University of Michigan has
evolved to the point where it
would -be difficult for the
department to fire Samoff
outright as a "Marxist" or on
other openly political grounds.
(Indeed, when interviewed by the
Daily, one of the department
members denied political bias
and protested that "A lot of my
best friends are real Marxists."
Onen wonders if there was an
ironic intent in this choice of
expression, which is better
known as the classic defense of
the racist and anti-Semite.) Thus
it is obligatory for the
department to try to taint

LSA-SG and free speech

71' HE PRESIDENT of the Literary
:1 College Student Government
found himself in an uncomfortable
situation recently as students and
,faculty criticized his decision to
endorse a demonstration against
former Israeli Foreign Minister
Y1 gall, Allon.
Tne criticism of Bob Stechuk, the
:student government leader, arose over
-whether he had the authority to lend
-LSA-SG's name to a demonstration
:without checking with other LSA-SG
.members. Even Kathy Friedman,
.LSA-SG's vice president expressed
surprise over the sponsorship by her
organization of the December 17
speech. "I would have argued against
it ... I didn't even know about it," she
Mr. Stechuk has also been criticized
because the demonstration turned
violent. Hecklers impeded the
Rackham Auditorium speech, and
eventually had to be removed by the
Ann Arbor police department. What's
.more, the flyer advertising the
demonstration, on which LSA-SG's
name appeared, condemned the Allon
speech, accusing Mr. Allon of being a
"well-known" member of a terrorist
But the central issue seems to be
freedom of speech. Should LSA-SG
sponsor a demonstration which
attempts to take away a speaker's
right to be heard?,And should one LSA-
SG member be allowed to decide for
the whole body which activities to
Ironically, it is in the name of

Student groups, he says, do not have
the resources to invite and pay for
speakers of the same stature and
notoriety as Mr. Allon.
Of course, in a sense, Mr. Stechuk is
right. Students should never let the
University dictate the political
positions which are addressed on
campus. However, it is no more
correct for a small group of students to
try to do the same. The Palestinian
protesters would never approve of
Zionist hecklers silencing one of their
In hindsight, Mr. Stechuk has said it
may have been a mistake for him to
use his position as advocacy
coordinator to sponsor the activity. He
told a group of students and faculty
Sunday he did not expect the protestors
to interrupt the speech, nor did he
know that the demonstration would be
so emotionally antagonistic toward
Mr. Allon. He has maintained that the
demonstration he thought LSA-SG was
to sponsor was merely a plea for
another point of view to be heard.
Mr. Stechuk should be commended
for finally realizing his mistake. He
has announced that he would apologize
to Mr. Allon, and to the Institute of
Public Policy Studies Director Jack
Walker, who organized the speech.
LSA-SG should also review its
guidelines so that no one person can
embarass the student body by using its
name to sponsor activities by groups
which seek to restrict free speech. This
course seems generally agreed on by
LSA-SG members. Even Mr. Stechuk

Students of the '60s, '70s, '80s . .

To the Daily:
I must confess that when I read
Ms. Sharp's letter I was saddened
and disheartened. From social
research we know that when a
person has positive attachment to
a goal that another person feels
negatively about, in this base
materialistic success, the first
person will often reduce noxious
dissonance by attacking the
other person's integrity. Hence
her comments; two bit editorials,
propaganda rags etc.
Ms. Sharp carries this strategy
further by saying Leary and
Hoffman were worshippedaas
gods and then detailing their
shortcomings. But to me, the
idealism of the '60s is
characterized by men of personal
courage like Dr. King and
Senator Eugene McCarthy.
People who were willing to stand
for a cause before it was
comfortably chic, sometimes
even at the cost of their own lives.
Leary and Hoffman were
tangential byproducts of the
times Ms. Sharp, not the main
movers who could motivate
thousands with their poignant cry
for justice.
Unfortunately, just as people
were beginning to believe they
could make a difference,
galvanized by the horrible

comment, "we refuse to waste
our time protesting because it's a
proven fact that it doesn't do a
gaddamn thing." Given the
unfortunate unresponsiveness of
our political system it is
understandable that Ms. Sharp
would shift to a position of self
serving materalism rather than
risk the anguish and frustration
of unheeded social action. What
upsets me, is the feeling that if
our government had heard our
call in the past an articulate,

,motivated Ms. Sharp would be
leading the march, banner in
But multinationals now walk
wherenations fear to tread and
"Green Power has replaced
Black Power" (N.Y. Times Dec.
3rd). It is painfully obvious that
unless you have money in this
society you can be a powerless
victim of an insensitive
bureaucracy. But I would temper
this observation by saying that a
full, rich, meaningful life cannot

be expressed by materialistic
accoutrements; a ritzy facade
that alletoo often covers an inner
Ultimately the role of idealism
in one s life is a decision every
person must make for herself.
But perhaps Ms. Sharp's
discomfort with her conclusion is
reflected in the great lengths to
which she goes to justify her
-Brian Weld
LSA senior

Vietnam did the dirty work

To the Daily:
The analysis of recent events in
Cambodia by the Daily in its
editorial of January 13 was
deficiently one-sided.
No attention was given to the
fact that the Chinese and
everyone else stood by while the
invasion happened. No attention
was given to the fact that U.S.
intervention in Cambodia was
recently discussed in congress
with Senator McGovern asserting
that the U.S., has a responsibility

Vietnamese is that it comes after
the invasion has in large part
succeeded. The fact is that
(rivalries aside) world public
opinion is thankful to the
Vietnamese for relieving the
world of a bad scene, and it was a
bad scene. The reports from
disparate groups of Cambodian
refugees must have been
substantially true, given their
Now that the invasion has
succeeded there is concern that it
will set a bad precedent..

one to intervene in Cambodia,
which was considered to be in
China's sphere of 'hegemony'
would there have been this
outcry? Probably not.
We can only hope that the"
United Nations won't persist in
somerdeluded assertion of
appearances over reality by
continuing to recognize a
permanently deposed regime as
the legitimate government of
Cambodia. It would be far more
honest to admit the possibility
that the invasion of Cambodia
mav nnt have hen a had thing

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