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September 29, 1974 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-09-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

editors:
laura berman
howie brick
contributing editor:
mary long

sundaiy

matgazine

inside:
page four-books
page five-magic
page six-week in
review

Number 4 Page Three Septembe
FEATUR

r 29, 1974
ES

After
a care
Ey HOWARD BRICK
A MARRIED COUPLE who had
just graduated from the Uni-
versity of Michigan wrote to a
magazine last summer, "we find
that BA's from the School of Liter-
ature, Science and the Arts guar-
antees us, at most, the position of
head cook and bottle washer at the
local deli.. . we have decided to go
to Europe for an extended period
of reflection irl the fervent hope
that someone, somewhere will miss
us."'
On that note of disillusionment,
they were off, looking for some-
thing better in the world of the un-
familiar. But there are also many
graduates of the University who
take their degree with the same
grain of salt - who feel just as
lost and unneeded, and yet prefer
to stay with the familiar. Ann Ar-
bor exerts a strange power over
many of those who have gone to
school here. Maybe it's the slow
pace combined with the cultural
activity of the town or perhaps the
relaxed social attitudes that does
it. But more and more people grad-
uate from the University and de-
cide to stay in town rather than
move away and start a career.
There's the philosophy major as
janitor, the sociology major as
Waitress, the history major as cab
driver. As one graduate - a desk
clerk in one of the dormitories-
said, "Ann Arbor opiates people af-
ter a while. You can't imagine leav-
ing the place. You shoot up on it."
It is probably no news to anyone
that jobs are hard to get these
days and that many college curric-
ula are near worthless when you
try to sell them on the market.
There's a story about a gas station
in L.A. that boasts it has a Ph.D.
at every pump. And a student from
Boston University suggested in a
Newsweek article last year that an
intellectual taxi service be estab-
lished: All the drivers would be ex-
academics, and each customer
would phone in and tell the dis-
patcher which topic he was inter-
ested in. If you wanted to get to
the bus station and talk about eco-
nomics at the same time, you could
do it.
RUT AT THE SAME time, what
some people call "careerism"
has reached a high point in the
last few years. A recent survey
found over 20 ner cent of all incom-
ing freshmen at the University de-
clared themselves pre-med. And
the career nlanning office in the
Student Activities Bnilding claims
to have almost three times as much
student traffic as it did five vears
ago. So when a recent graduate of
the Residential Cllee tells neo-
ple he is still living in Ann Arbor
without being a student, "one out
of every three." he says, raises eye-
brows.

The attraction is undeniably
there. thoueb: Ann Arbor means
something sp-cinl to a lot of neo-
ple. Bernadette Walter Lot her BA
in socioloev in December 1972. and
after a few months of travel. re-
turned to town. She has been a
waitress at the Brown Jue off and
on, mostly on. since the snring of
1973. Why she stavs is comnlex: the
first thing she says in way of ex-
planation is. "It's all kids, and I
have a lot of friends here."
She is a tall, thin, dark-haired
woman from a middle-class family
in Baldwin, New York. After
spending her high school years in
a Catholic girls' school and her

a

degree

and
Ann

: ife
you dcn't have to dress well and
women don't have to shave their
legs if they don't want to. But Ber-
nadette's attitude is not really as
flippant as this may sound. Over
the past few years she has thought
a good deal about her college edu-
cation, her hopes for the future,
her career possibilities, and her
life in Ann Arbor.
"As much as I like the diversity
and variety of people here, I like
the similarity of the people too.
They are either young or really
young in spirit. The things that
motivate their lives are not the
things that motivate lives in sub-
urbia." She feels comfortable with
the vaiaes and attitudes prevalent
in Ann Arbor, she says. "The wo-
men's movement is pretty well ac-
ceptpd and encouraged. If people
act in a chauvinistic way, they
know it's wrong. At least people
here pay lip service, and that's a
step in the right direction: In oth-
er places it's still a big joke." Inas-
much as Ann Arbor is its own sub-
culture - a subculture dedicated
to values that are considered dif-
ferent and better than those of the
parent generation -- she is happy
to be a participant. She repeats
with relish, "I'm real comfortable
here."
13UT IT IS NOT so simple. No
matter how much Bernadette
tells herself she is not sacrificing
any dignity by being a waitress,
there is something that tells her
she must move on. "It (Ann Arbor)
is the kind of place you should
move through, pass through, be-
cause it's unreal. I guess there
really are some values in me, some-
thing gnawing at me, that says I
can't go on like this forever. I real-
ly don't think I can accent this
100 per cent hedonism for the rest
of my life."
It is a theme that recurs among
people who have stayed in Ann
Arbor after graduation. Ann Arbor
is fun and it is easy. As one gradu-
ate put it, "Ann Arbor is a life-
sized Skinner box ... you just have
to find the right lever to meet your
needs."
Scott Cummings majored in dra-

in

ma and comparative literature at
the Residential College and gradu-
ated last May. He now has a cler-
ical job at the college and plans to
spend a calm, leisurely year in
town while he decides what he
wants to do with himself in the
future. "Not being in school," he
says, 'will make me more ripe to
take advantage of Ann Arbor's op-
portunities . . . I'm just very used
to this life style and when I get
tired of it I go to the, airport and
look at adults."
RICK PARKS IS another gradu-
ate keenly aware of the issue.
A 26-year-old man with a short,
stocky build and an exuberant Der-
sonality, he graduated with a BGS
degree in 1971, went back to his
home town, Grand Haven, Michi.
gan, for a job on the local news-
paDer, and then returned here. He
has been a security guard for Uni-
versity residence halls since Au-
gust 1972. "I missed Ann Arbor in-
credibly," he says. "I missed the
company of people with college
backgrounds and I found I had
stopped growing." The conserva-
tive, business - oriented newspaper
was professionally frustrating, and
the narrow - mindedness and cul-
tural deficiencies of small-town
life were disturbing. "Grand Haven
doesn't have a bookstore. It's the
only place in the world that does-
n't have a bookstore," Rick says.
"I'm highly youth oriented," he
continued. "I really don't want to
get old. It's easy to keep thinking
you're a college kid here . . . You
don't have the pressure to settle
down and be sedate."
He appreciates the films and
theater life around town, as well
as the unusual, progressive nature
of politics. He debated whether he
would stay in Grand Haven in the
hope of bringing about a little bit
of change. "But for the little bit
of change you make you pay an
awful lot in personal unhappiness
-.. It (staying here) is definitely a
hedonistic and self-centered type
of thing, but I'm not so sure that's
so awful."
OF COURSE, in some people, am-
bition cuts deeper than in

before
'Arbor
others One person who worked on
the Michigan Daily for his four
years at school and is now staying
in town with a minor job at a pub-
lishing firm says he has already
tired of Ann Arbor. He intended to
use his time here for reflection and
for catching up on those things in
Ann Arbor that he never had time
to appreciate before. But the need
for achievement is beginning to
have its effect. He plans to move to
Boston next month in the hope of
landing a newsoaper job or enter-
ing graduate school there. "It isn't
so much the need for status or
power but the need to know you're
doing a good job . . . There's a real-
lv stabs feeling about being in Ann
Arbor There are people hanging on
in semi-superfluous jobs. You can
get a feeling of being bogged
down.
It is a feeling that olagues many
to various degrees. When it comes
down to taking a hard look at the
future, Bernadette, for example,
says, "I know I'm meant for some-
thing else." For her, it has been a
difficult problem, one she has still
not resolved almost two years after
graduation.
"There is some peer pressure to
do something real and beneficial,"
she says. When asked to explain
what a "real" job would be. she
was at first stymied. "Something
that requires a BA and pays at
least $8000." But it's more than
that, she admits. "It's helping oth-
ers, contributing to society and
fulfilling myself, using my mind
and my talents. Something that's
unreal is something that pays the
bills and makes me happy."
BERNADETTE HAS devoted a lot
of her energies all along to
finding that "real" job, and she
hasn't had much success. She has
decided she would like to be a
child care worker with emotional-
ly disturbed children, but has not
found a job that was at the same
time open and practical. Last
spring she was offered a job in
Redford, but it only paid $5900 a
year and she would need a car to
make the 45 minute drive each day.

Bernadette Walter: "Ann Arbor is the kind of
place you should move through, pass through,
because it's unreal. 1 guess there really are
some values in me, something gnawing at me,

that says I can't go on
think I can accept this
for the rest of my life."
The search has left her with more
than a little bitterness.
"A degree doesn't mean anything
extra special to the economy these
days. I don't regret for a minute
going for college. I don't regret
studying sociology. But, yeah, I
feel let down that society doesn't.
have a place for me . . . I feel
cheated by a system that didn't
guide me. Nobody told you that
you couldn't get a job with sociol-
ogy."
SHE ADMITS THAT she didn't
give much thought to a career
while she was in school. "There
was a real shock the last few
months of school," she says. "I
started thinking 'I have to support
myself. What am I going to do?'

like this forever, I don't
100 per cent hedonism
You feel like you're just getting
dumped into the real world. So I
made a conscious decision to hang
loose."
Lee Kirk, a blond haired, bearded
man with a deep voice and a low-
keyed manner, has a different per-
spective. A 1971 graduate of Resi-
dential College and a desk clerk at
East Quad for the past year, he
more or less ignored the problem
of planning a career while he was
an undergraduate, and he doesn't
regret that at all. His years as a
student were those of high-pitched
political activity on campus, and
he always felt that was where he
should devote most of his energies.
"Some people came with goals
and kept them. Others found goals
here. But I and others said the
hell with it." He remembers being
tear-gassed on South University in
1969 when the police tried to break
ui a street party, and he remem-
bers the excitement of the BAM
(Black Action Movement) Strike
in 1970 "Politically, people were
looking for fast action to bring on
the new morning." After teaching
in Brazil for six months on a pri-
vate exchange program, he re-
turned to Ann Arbor in July 1972
and has held a variety of non-ca-
reer jobs since. Having just enter-
ed graduate school to study his-
tory, he is still not sure what his
future holds.
"J THINK IT would be a big mis-
take to sit down in the first
year of graduate school and say, 'I
want to do this and this,' because
then you get tunnel vision and
miss out on a lot of things . . . I
still feel there's plenty of time."
Rick Parks, likewise, feels no
great urgency. The time may come
when he says to himself. "I've had
enough of this." but he's not go-
ing to worry about it right now.
And even Bernadette Walter, no
matter how much she agonizes and
turns the issues over and over
again in her mind, says, "I'm still
not driven to find a profession. I
have a lot of reservations about it.
It's not as comfortable as not

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