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September 09, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-09-9

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- deep greens and blues

4t4e fir ian Datly
Eighty-one years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Confronting the amorphous

by rry lempert


420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Taking a "hard look back
at the movement's genesis

"AND IN 1971, they rested."
As historians, philosophers, and
poets sit down to record the most recent
era of campus turbulence, perhaps some
of their works will end like this, with a
wry reference to the Creation.
It describes an atmosphere that has
settled over academia for many months
now. After years of social and political
activism, of sit-ins, marches, and strikes,
the nation's campuses appear to have
grown tired; their students seem over-
come by propensity for rest, rather than
At the University last year, few at-
tempts were made to organize potent
campaigns against the problems that
have so inflamed the campus community
In the past. Where political activity did
occur, it was carried out by small groups
that lacked leadership and spirit.
Elsewhere, things were pretty much the
same. The invasion of Laos-coming only
10 months after dozens of campuses were
forced to close in the wake of the Cam-
bodan venture and the Kent State and
rackson State killings - elicited only a
march or two, and a few other sputtering
responses that soon died.
THIS LULL in the political climate at
colleges and universities evokes images
of the serene campuses of the 1950's. But
coming in 1971, it seems oddly placed.
More than ever before, students have
gained an acute perception of the social
and political decadence that character-
izes the United States and the rest of the
world. Few in academia today are able
to completely escape the realities of pov-
erty, prejudice, war, environmental decay
-the expressions of injustice and inhu
manity ring constantly in our ears.
Yet despite their burgeoning social con-
sciousness, students returning to their
campuses this fall seem hesitant about
channelling their beliefs into some kind
of constructive movement.
HAT HAS happened to foster this
W paradox of awareness coupled with
For most, perhaps, it was the .realiza-
tion that for all the time and energy they
expended on political activity in the last
decade, few victories of any consequence
were achieved.
Over a six-year period, students rallied
and marched and literally fought in the
streets to convince the U.S. government
to end its involvement in Indochina. But
although they were joined, in the waning
years, by masses of citizens that had also
been moved to protest, the government's
policy remained impregnable. Far from
disengaging from Southeast Asia, Ameri-
cans have mounted invasions into two
more countries in this decade, alone.
In the same way, other reform move-
ments have failed to bear fruit. And de-
spite all their efforts to raise the con-
sciousness of the government, students
still see their social awareness openly
scorned by government officials-officials
who are unafraid to pursue intensive
campaigns against this type of conscious-
Last May 3, 4, and 5, District of Colum-
bia Police Chief Jerry Wilson was ap-
plauded for breaking the back of anti-
war civil disobedience through indiscrimi-
nate mass arrests.
It is indeed frustrating to find that
Editorial Staff

after years of protesting the omnipotence
of our self-serving oligarchy in Washing-
ton, it can still stage a campaign against
the most basic civil liberties without fear
of diminishing its standing with the ma-
jorty of the public.
LOCALLY, A similar frustration abounds
in University students, faculty mem-.
bers, and non-academic employes who at
one time saw a great potential in political
activity at this campus. What, indeed, do
we have to show for the strikes and dis-
ruptions, the leafletting, rallying, and
Well, there's a relatively new under-
graduate degree, having minimal course
requirements, that the literary college
faculty approved under pressure in April,
1969. But to gain admission to graduate
school, most students taking the degree
are forced to take many of the regular BA
requirements anyway.
And then there's the 10 per cent black
admissions plan which the University
adopted after a two-week class strike in
March, 1970. But the black administrators
supervising the plan now say the Uni-
versity is not providing the supportive
s e r v i c e sto adequately implement the
And finally, there's the year-old dis-
count campus bookstore, an achievement
that required a building takeover and 107
arrests in September, 1969. The students
took over the building because they were
angry that the administration could so
easily disregard a student referendum
that overwhelmingly supported establish-
ment of the bookstore. But the referenda
are still being disregarded. And the book-
store is probably saving students no more
than a few dollars a year.
S0 WE COME to 1971, and find that
across the country, students have be-
come bored with ineffectiveness, tired of
defeat. And the growing apathy is becom-
ing more and more noticeable to those
outside the campus:
"As a society comes to the point where
there is negativism, defeatism . . . it is
inevitable that younger people will give
up," was the sanctimonious comment of
President Nixon to a group of Midwest
editors and publishers in July.
Indeed, as the new academic year pro-
gresses, it would be quite easy to do justice
to that comment. But to do so, to suc-
cumb to frustration and defeatism, would
be an abdication of the ideals which, this
year more than ever, the student body is
likely to profess.
There are only a few alternatives. One
is to continue as before, with a decreas-
ing number of student and faculty acti-
vists attempting to organize support for
limited reforms.
Another and far wiser alternative is
to make a concerted attack upon the en-
trenched structures that have frustrated
such efforts in the past, and have brought
students to the point of apathy.
AT THE UNIVERSITY, it is easy to trace
the resistance to change to a govern-
ing mechanism that has always operated
without direct student involvement. As
a state institution, the University is gov-
erned by eight regents elected by Mich-
igan voters to eight-year terms. The Re-
gents, who have traditionally been busi-
nessmen and attorneys, are required to
be in Ann Arbor only for their monthly
meetings, and have never developed the
understanding of the University com-
munity that is enjoyed by students and
faculty members.
For years, members of both groups have
tossed around the idea of altering the
government of the University so that it
is headed by a body that directly repre-
sents the community. There cannot pos-

sibly be a more fitting time to seek such
an alternative than now, when it has
become clear that the current structure
is forcing the social consciousness of the
community to withdraw from the fore-
Working t o w a r d a potentially far-
reaching change in University governance
is a far more viable approach than once
again w .o r k i n g toward limited goals,
which might only add further to student
frustration and defeatism.
Above all, too much is at stake for 1971

QUARE AND solid, the ad-
ministration building sur-
veyed the crowd gathered at its
feet. Its slit-like eyes showed
no sign of friendship but, at
the same time, its glass-d o o r
mouth breathed no anger. Its
face, in fact, showed no emo-
tion at all - only eminated a
certain feeling of . . . condes-
A thin, bearded observer stood
off to one side, watching the
demonstration. His face, like
that of the building, showed no
emotion, but once in a while
he would shake his head. He
turned to a friend standing
with him and commented, "It's
a swell crowd."
And sure enough, the crowd
swelled and, in a sudden mo-
tion, swept up to the base of
the brick monument.
A figure in denim broke away,
grasped a megaphone in h is
hand and shouted to the group.
"This isn't a building," he chal-
lenged, "it's a goddam f o r-
tress. And locked up safe inside
that fortress, armed to t h e
teeth with budgets and records
and files - that's where They
"That's right," yelled a sup-
porter from below and reached
up for a megophone. They're in
there making decisions about
us. And have They ever asked
us about it?"
"Just look in those windows!"
"We can't," responded an
angry voice from the crowd.
"Aha, just as I thought! The
windows are too small and too
far away-we can't see in and
They don't want to see out."

talk with Them. Let's open those
closed doors and yell in Their
closed ears - "You represent
the people? Well, this is t h e
The chanting wave pressed
toward the door, surged through
a line of security guards, flow-
ed down the hall yelling, "We
are going to talk to Them,
Ralph and Justin freed them-
selves from the crowd, and,
making their way to the side
of the hall, stoodaback against
the wall. "But are They go-
ing to talk to us," Justin won-
dered, as the people burst into
the conference room and sud-
denly became quiet.
A gleaming wooden table ran
the length of the room, s u r-
rounded by plush, empty chairs.
Portraits of past powers lined
the walls, and flags of the na-
tion and University respectively
guarded the entrance way.
And there They were.
At the far end of the table
the machine hummed peace-
fully. Every few seconds the
keyboard would clatter a n d
tapes would whirl in response.
Lights flashing, electricity pul-
sing through the circuited
veins, They waited.
One lone figure in denim ap-
proached Them. He looked at
the silent crowd, turned back
to Them. And his rage building
up inside, he let loose, "You
goddam honky fascist e 1i t e
ruling class capitalistic pig!"
The keys rattled for a few
seconds, then there was silence
again. Finally, a panel lit up
and answered him quietly, di-
rectly, without emotion.
"That does not compute."



As attention focused on the
windows more carefully, faces
could be seen, high up, glaring
through the slits at the peo-
ple below. A woman in t h e
crowd shook her fist. "All we
get is secretaries laughing at
"And we'll all be secretaries
too," yelled another, "if They
have Their way."
The two observers moved
closer to the crowd. "What are
They meeting about today?"
asked Ralph.
"Nobody knows," said Justin,
scratching his beard. "Nobody

~ knows what They meet about.
Nobody even knows who They
are, really."
"I've seen pictures," R a 1 p h
"Pictures are amorphous."
"We get the picture," the me-
gaphone asserted. "They sit on
their uptight assholes around a
big wooden table. The secretary
drones out the motions, They
nod Their heads, grumble Aye,
Aye. They run through our lives
like They run through a hun-
dred other items on the agenda,
thumbs up or down on our
existence, thinking our future

can proceed only with Their
stamp of approval."
The crowd stamped wildly in
approval as she went on. "Has
anyone ever seen those decision
makers? Have you ever talked
to Them and told Them what
you want? Do you think They'd
listen to you if you did?
"You've got to go through
the proper channels. They'll tell
you. You've got to program the
computer just right or it'll spit
the information back at you,
Another speaker jumped to
the front. "It's time we had a


facing the wars

that never end

Supplement Co-Editor
IT's EASY to believe that when
The War ends, everything
will be fine again.
After all, everything was fine
when The War began, back
when members of the Class of
'75 were somewhere around two
years old. We didn't notice any-
thing wrong then.
When The War ends, we will
have time to straighten out the
economy, end racism, sexism
and pollution, turn our cities
into gardens of Eden, and be
human again.
When The War ends, t h e
government will no longer try
to suppress printing of material
which is embarrassing to it, be-
cause there will be no more
such material. The government
will no longer jail 13,600 de-
monstrators within a week, be-
cause there will be no war to
demonstrate against.

And everything will be won-
derful - when The War ends.
The majority of us have
long since rejected this sim-
plistic view of What's Wrong
With Our Society; but with
that rejection, we stop.
We know there's more wrong
than just the war - in fact, it's
the whole system - but at first'
it's hard to find an alterna-
tive to that system that suits
one's personal politics. And if
we find what we consider an al-
ternative, it's even harder to
think of how to turn America
today into whatever socialist,
communist, anarchist or collec-
tivist haven we've decided on.
It's easy to talk about "organ-
izing the masses," or "forming
a worker-student alliance" o r
revolution in the streets," but
how does one go about any of
these things? A journey of a
thousand miles begins with the

first step, the cliche goes, but
where is the first step?
None of the first steps tried
so far seem to have done much
Electing "good' congressmen
is out of the question - no
amount of g o o d congressmen
elected by devoted youthful fol-
lowers are going to outbalance
the bad legislators in power, and
besides, one begins to feel that
there is p o s s i b l y something
wrong with the very structure of
The other extreme, "stopping
the government," is even less
effective, if that's possible. We
tried, one might say, and we
ended up 10,000 strong in make-
shift detention, camps, as gov-
ernment bureaucrats continued
working on the Machine that
has caused all this.
In the face of all these prob-
lems, it's easiest to give up.

School is to learn-study-g e t
ahead, and not to play activist,
one can say.
"I can march against The War
ten million times and it still
goes on," one adds, even more
logically. "And there's noth-
ing much I can do about pol-
lution, racism, sexism and the
rest, either."
Most people seem to take this
attitude, these days. So many
first stepshave been tried, and
all the attempts have proved
numbingly futile.
Then, too, Ann Arbor and
the University can offer a soft,
safe womb to hide in.
So, you prepare to sit it out.
But sitting it ou" isn't easy.
Because things begin to intrude
on the class-work, on the slow
Diag afternoons, on even the
fragrant marijuana evenings.
Things intimately connected
with the University itself, at

When you arrive on campus, you will
eventually be confronted with a clash be-
tween cultures - the growing conflict be-
tween what is commonly called the youth
culture, and the more traditionalswork-hard,
get a degree and go into business route.
For the freshman, the choice he makes be-
tween the two cultures will effect at least
his next four years, perhaps the rest of his '
life, and the choice must be made.
On the surface, the two lifestyle are very
different-local "youth culturists" look with
scorn on the time-worn, respectable way of
going through college and many of them '
drop out along the way in defiance of an
educational system they find irrelevant, op-
pressive, and bureaucratic. And the more
traditional scholars accuse the marijuana
smokers of being irreverant and irrespon-
However, looking at the picture from afar,
there is a shocking similarity between these a
apparently dissimilar ways of life.
This overriding similarity is that neither 1

campus lifestyles

first glance far from pollution,
sexism, racism and The War.
For example, at North Hall,
tucked away in a corner of
campus, ROTC cadets learn to
shoot and march and fight.
And all professors don't j u s t
give dull 9 a.m. lectures -
some are instead developing re-
mote sensing devices that will
be used to seek out the V ie t
Cong so that they can be de-
And there are the Univer-
sity hospital workers, who come
in from Ypsilanti because Ann
Arbor's too expensive to live in,
and who have to pay someone
to care for their children while
they work for the University.
Then there are the place-
ment offices, where companies
offer you jobs with the military-
industrial complex itself - with
exciting opportunities for work
in racist South Africa. Or Mis-
There are the professors, most
of them male and most of them
white. And the professional
schools - are there no women
who want to be doctors and
lawyers, or has it something to
do with admissions policy?
All this and more intrudes
upon your consciousness, press-
ing until you realize that it's
all part of the same problem,
the same things that won't get
any better even if The War
does end.
And you think painfully that
the problem is as insoluable on
the small scale as it is on the
large one.
Protests,tsit-ins, rallies,
marches, letters to the Daily,
talks with administrators, class
strikes. Probably none 9f them
will help, you think.
But they might, as they have
sometimes in the past. And so
they're worth trying, again and
again, as you simultaneously
search for newhtactics.
And it might be that t h e
trying and the searching for
solutions at the University level
is the first step of the endless



challenges the existing system. Although
certain "liberated" organizations maintain
that marijuana is revolutionary and will
bring down the American way of life, it is
hard to see how dope could cause cracks to
appear in the America edifice of world
Although Robben Fleming may occasion-
ally feel morally outraged by the effects of
dope on the student populus, he and other
administrators know that one studept smok-
ing dope in the dorm is one less student
standing on a picket line with striking Uni-
versity employes or organizing other stu-
dents to demand a really good education.
And although one can spend hours idealiz-
ing the peaceful spirit of the "youth culture"
at Woodstock, one can also look at a more
recent rock festival, the Festival of Life in
Louisiana this summer, where promoters of
the affair employed motorcycle gangs to
bloody countless heads rather than allow
people in without their $28 tickets.
Dope as a way of life is not revolutionary,
but rather the opposite. It is no threat to the

existing order, and can therefore be tolerat-
ed or even approved by that order.
It is equally self-evident that student who
6spend all their time studying, swallowing
whole the values handed to them by exist-
ing society, are doing nothing to challenge,
the existing system.
Thus, the choice that one must make is.
not between lifestyles, it is between adopt-
ing a studious-or a "youth eulture" life
style or challenging the educational system
in a political way. For when there is a sit-in
or a picket line, it doesn't matter what ex-
cuse you have, it just matters if you're
there or not.
You may argue that by not participating
in the educational system you are challeng-
ing the legitimacy of that system; but does
the University, by not taking a stand on
matters of national policy, thus challenge
those policies? Only by acting, not by sit-
ting passively, can you challenge anything.
And it will be those who act who will
change the University and the rest of so-
ciety as well. To act or not: that is the
decision you must face.


Executive Editor

Managing Editor

STEVE KOPPMAN ........... .. Editorial Page Editor
RICK, PERLOFF .... Associate Editorial Page Editor
PAT MAHONEY....... Assistant Editorial Page Editor
LYNN WEINER .. .,.......Associate Managing Editor
LARRY LEMPERT ........Associate Managing Editor
ANITA CRONE .. .. ......... ,... Arts Editor
ROBERT CONROW .....Books Editor
JIM JUDKIS. .... .. .....Photography Editor
NIGHT EDITORS: Rose Sue Berstein, Mark Dillen,
Sara Fitzgerald, Tammy Jacobs, Jonathan Miller,
Hester Pulling, Carla Rapoport, Robert Schreiner,
W. E. Schrock, Geri Sprung.
COPY EDITORS: Lindsay Chaney, Art Lerner, Debra
DAY EDITORS: Juanita Anderson, Janet Frey, Jirn
McFerson, Linda Dreeben, Alan Lenhoff, Hannah
Morrison, Chris Parks, Gene Robinson.
Grupe, Jim Irwin, John Mitchell, Kristin Ring-

60V6C)MHJ .16

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