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September 09, 1971 - Image 36

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The Michigan Daily, 1971-09-9

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Page Four


Thursday, September 9 1971

Page Four THE MICHIGAN DAILY Thursday, September 9, 1971

Fleming: Seeking stability
the expense of innovatioi



Terry Ma'Crthy
A Regents meeting: The once a mouth visit to Ann Arbor
The Regents: Influenced
by courtesy or disruption?

Few students at the Univer-
sity have seen them, fewer still
have talked with them and most
students have no idea how this
eight-member body charged with
running the University affects
them during their four-year stay
But when a student begins to
involve himself in trying to
change. - University policies or
formulate new ones, the signifi-
cance of the University's Board
of Regents immediately b e -
comes apparent. All major pol-
icy disputes ultimately c o m e
before the * Regents in their
monthly meetings here, and the
final decisions are theirs.
Under the Michigan consti-
tution, the Regents are respon-
sible for general supervision of
the University and with govern-
ing the allocations of general
working capital. Serving stag-
gered shifts, the Regents run in
state-wide elections for e I g h t-
year terms, and usually are
pulled into office by the party
which carries the state.
Since the Regents constitu-
tionally head the University's
chain of authority, students
frequently approach them with
proposals and demands for new
University policies - and the
two groups often clash over the
issues students raise.
Students pressing for the im-
plementation of new proposals
this past year have voiced an
increasing frustration with what
they see as a lack of interest
and serious consideration of
their ideas on the -part of the
No, cyedible or respected
channel of communications
seems to exist between the two
groups, and students contend
that the Regents pay little at-
tention to issues raised by Stu-
dent Government Council a n d
other student groups on campus.
Arguing that their positions
are not adequately represented
at the Regents' monthly meet-
ings, students are turning away
more and more from presenting
written proposals for the Re-
gents to consider, and are in-
stead trying to organize the
University community to pres-
sure the Regents into adopting
their demands.
Students hope that by draw-
ing attention to their proposals
through leafleting and rallies,
more members of the University
community will back their de-
mands and help act as a pres-
sure force on the Regents.
"The only way to change any-
thing here is to disrupt-other-
wise nobody listens," says one
The Regents, however, strong-
ly object to disruptions of their
meetings, and often refuse to
respond to the demands and
questions students put forth at
'these sessions.
"Real,communication cannot
be fostered by rudeness, 1o u d
noise and physical pressure,"
Regent Lawrence Lindemer (R-

Stockbridge) angrily contend-
ed last October when students
interrupted and surrounded the
Regents in an open hearing.
Lindemer added that the "Re-
gents are concerned about the
intent (by members of the aud-
ience at the hearing) not to re-
solve and not to communicate,
but to harass and insult, and
demonstrate an expertise in ar-
An important factor in stu-
dents' concern for a response
and commitment from the Re-
gents is the limited time a stu-
dent spends at the University.
Students have a greater sense
of urgency than the Regents,
who serve eight-year terms. Of-
ten students feel that unless
they keep pressing the Rlegents,
the issue will be dropped after
they leave the University.

by Fleming or his executive
Another important factor in
the apparent gap between the
Regents and students at the Uni-
versiy, is the social background
of many of the Regents. Many
of the Regents come from mid-
dle and upper class backgrounds
=where the position of Regent is
viewed as a socially prestigious
one. The life style and values
of members of the University
community are significantly
more radical than the Regents'
- making communication be-
tween the two groups nearly im-
"Politically they're way out
in right field," says one stu-
dent. "They get turned off just
by long hair and swearing."
In the past, students pushing
for new programs have usually

"Real communication cannot be fostered by
rudeness, loud noise and physical pressure,"
says Regent Lawrence Lindemer (R-Stock-
But a student answers, "The only way to
change anything here is to disrupt-otherwise
nobody listens."
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With the intention of urging
the Regents to accept their de-
mands by using disruptive tac-
tics, about 250 students attempt-
ed to attend the Regents pub-
lic meeting in February. How-
ever, they found the doors lock-
ed and the building guarded by
police, and while trying to force
their way into the Regents
meeting, a violent confrontation
between police and the students
broke out.
Insisting they would not re-
spond to pressure form students
and disagreeing with the stu-
dents' plan, the Regents reject-
ed the student-supported r e -
cruiting policy.
Despite their appearance to
much of the University com-
munity as a solid, unified group,
the political viewpoints of the
Regents run the gamut from
conservative to liberal.
Sources in the administration
say that the two most recently
elected Regents-James Waters
(D-Muskegon) and Paul Brown;
(D-Petosky) -have already sub-
stantially liberalized the politi-
cal viewpoint of the Regents.
Although W a t e r s, who is
black, has voted more liberally
than Brown, both of them seem
more interested than the rest of
the board in talking to students
and finding out students' opin-
ions. Waters frequently talks
with members of the Black Stu-
dent Union and with several
other campus student leaders.
Regents Gerald Dunn (D-
Stockbridge) and G e r t r u d e
Huebner (R-Bloomfield Hills)
are considered to be fairly lib-
eral, and often side with stu-
dents in issues raised before the
Regents. Dunn, for instance,
voted in favor of a child care
center when the Regents re-
jected it.
More moderate in outlook, Re-
gents Nederlander and Lindemer
generally h o 1 d the "swing"
votes. Lindemer is one of the
more vocal Regents and has
lashed out at students for what
he sees as their "rude" and "in-
sulting" behavior when talk-
ing to the Regents.
Regents Robert Brown (R-
Kalamazoo) and William Cudlip
(R-Detroit) are the most con-
servative members of the group.
Both for example, voted against
a proposal to permit WCBN, the
University's student - run radio
station, to apply for an FM
permit until they felt certain
the station would not be "taken
over" by radicals.

Managing Editor
"I don't know why anyone
would like to be the president
of any university," R o b b e n
Fleming said half-seriously last
year when he was being con-
sidered to head Harvard.
Yet, three and one-half years
after he became the University's
ninth president, Fleming is still
chief executive here, pursuing
his difficult goal of keeping a
sometimes-troubled University
running stably and smoothly.
He has been able to accomp-
lish this task because his qual-
ifications are not merely those
of an educator. Fleming is, by
profession and tmperament, a
erisis manager, adept at harm-
onizing the diverse forces which
pressure a large educational in-
It is this type of president-
the problem solver - that has
taken the helm at a growing
number of universities.
For Fleming, maintaining
campus stability Chas often
meant -,resolving political dis-
putes between campus activ-
ists and the University, disputes
which have frequently escalated
into turmoil.
He has been able to do so by
coolly handling emergency sit-
uations, calmly arbitrating dis-
putes and hammering out com-
promises which might m a k e
no one happy but are acceptable
to everyone.
In the absence of major dis-
orders, Fleming's problem solv-
ing abilities turn largely to the
University's financial difficul-
And during the past school
year, more and more of his time
was taken up with lobbying for
increased funds, hobnobbing
with alumni and the public in
the hopes of greater tupport,
and campaigning for an early
hike in the state income tax to
get more money for the Uni-
With less of his time spent on
quelling campus disorders, how-
ever, Fleming's weakest point -
his failure to provide sufficient
leadership for the University in
terms of personally pushing for
educational and administrative
innovation - has become ap-
parent to some students a n d
faculty members.
While ready to approve chang-
es proposed and pushed through
the bureaucratic tangle by.oth-
ers, Fleming has not personally
led offensives for changes in
University policy.
He has been a responder rath-
er than an initiator, often leav-
ing others to spearhead change.
He is more concerned with play-
ing off the different constituen-
cies that pressure a University,
seeking a middle .ground.
Relatively successful as both
a mediator and financial lobby-
ist, Fleming has won a national
reputation as one of the best
college presidents around. This

regulation has been enhanced
by the dozens of speeches he
makes outside Ann Arbor each
year, his many appearances on
national television and his quo-
tations in publications ranging
from Newsweek to TV Guide.
But it is his characteristic of
being a. middleman that has en-
raged so many student activists
on campus. They fault his state-
ments for their ambiguity, his
policies for their lack of clear
direction and his general public
stance for changing with the
political wind.
In an era when activist stu-
dents and faculty members of-
ten raise moral issues, Fleming,
a practitioner of the arbitrator's
pragmatic art, does not gener-
ally base his decision on moral
"Some people call me a com-
promiser, but I never worry
about that," Fleming said in
an interview last year. "You
can't expect diverse groups to
live together without comprom-
His pragmatism is directed,
however, towards keeping the
University running and not to-
wards his own personal stand-
ing. "I never worry about being
A major characteristic of
Fleming's administrationch a s
been its decentralization. He
leaves day-to-day operations of
the University to his vice presi-
dents, only stepping in when
there are major policy decisions
to be made or when called upon
to resolve a crisis situation.
As a result, it has taken sit-
ins, strikes and other forms of
protest to get Fleming. to inter-
vene and adequately deal with
student demands.
Fleming usually does have
well-defined views on issues. that
are current; but in line with his
generally low profile, he holds
them close to his chest.

moratorium, he spoke on t h e
same platform as Rennie Davis
and came out strongly against
the Vietnam war. /
Along with his anti-war views,
Fleming holds other views tradi-
tionally ascribed to "liberals."
He questions U.S. foreign pol-
icy, but supports the right of
students to take ROTO pro-
grams at the University if they
wish, and believes they should
be able to obtain on-campus
interviews with job recruiters
from corporations.
In addition, he has support-
ed civil rights causes to which
he has reportedly contributed
large sums of money.

In personal matters, Fleming
has a tinge of conservatism. He
neither smokes nor drinks is
impatient with those who make
demands and are disorderly, and
views the counter-culture of
college youth with amusement
and at least some condescension.
In a speech, for example, in
Texas, he compared the looks of
people on campus with a "Hal-
loween masquerade."
As president of the Univer-
sity, Fleming is at a, crossroads.
The first year and one-half
of his tenure was a period of
grace for him, during which
Fleming gained the respect of
most students and faculty mem-
bers by putting his conciliatory
imprint on the University ad-

"obben Fleming

riowever, the
year was a trial
new president.

1969-70 school
by fire for the

AIlMName Brand

N =

His unprecedented actions in
calling in police on campus dur-
ing the LSA bookstore sit-in
and numerous job recruiter dis-
ruptions alienated activist stu-
dents. His willingness to nego-
tiate with dissidents -during sit-
uations such as the BAM strike
alienated the right.
Overall, he has maintained the
confidence of the middle ele-
ments that make up the major-
ity of the Univeristy commun-
ity. Whether he will be able to
retain this confidence is the
key question for the University
and for Robben Fleming in the
year ahead.
. rrrw1

Rug Making and
Instruction Books,
Buttons, etc.

The Regents, on the other
hand, argue that they need time
to study the students' proposals
because they are often unfamil-
iar with the students' plans and
need more information on the
As Regent Robert Nederland-
er (D-Birmingham) said after
students raised a proposal for
increased low-cost housing at
the Univeristy, "We may have
an answer on it next month,
but we'll have to wait for the
administration to assemble ne-
cessary information on this re-
Because, as Nederlander com-
mented, the Regents must rely
so heavily on the administra-
tion to gather information f o r
them, students feel that Presi-
dent Robben Fleming and h is
executive officers "feed" the
R e g e n t s, prejudicing them
against their demands.
In addition, since the Regents
come to the University o n 1 y
once a month, and are unfamil-
iar with issues raised w h ile
they are away from the campus,
they often are not aware of the
viewpoints and feelings of fa-
culty members and students.
Most of the matters submit-
ted to the Regents for their ap-
proval are simply procedural.
For instance, at every meeting
the Regents approve faculty ap-
pointments and leaves of ab-
sence, when the real decisions
were earlier made by the faculty
member's own department.
Proposals such as tuition in-
creases and dorm fee hikes are
also worked out in advance, and
the Regents rarely disagree on
the recommendations m a d e

been asked by the Regents to
prepare a carefully researched
plan to consider before they take
any action on the students'
z proposals. However, students
now often say that before they
put time and effort into formu-
lating a workable plan, t h e
Regents should make some
commitment to their ideas. If
the Regents offer no pledge, the
students' plan is likely to end
up being totally rejected, stu-
dents contend.
Frustrated with paper propos-
als, students have used pres-
sure tactics more and more to
force the Regetns to accept their
Following the U.S. supported
invasion of Laos last February,
students opposed to the Vietnam
war protested what they saw as
the University's complicity in
the Indochina war. Students
demanded that the University
abolish war research and ROTC
from campus, and also ban job
recruiters from corporations
which operate in countries where
discrimination is legally en-
forced, such as South Africa.

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speak out. For
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Fleming d o e s
example, during
1969, anti-war




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