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December 13, 1972 - Image 18

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Michigan Daily, 1972-12-13
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... }. _

Rage Six


PWednesday, December 13, 1972

Wednesday, December 13, 1972,


Behind Fleming's desk

Inside Flemings' home
A cozy holiday ahead

"Southern fits into the classic mold of the 'separate but equal' system.




the door at 815 South Uni-
versity Avenue, it brings greens
and trees and the children home
for the holidays, a University
horticulturist to arrange the poin-
setta plants and rush of dinner
parties for 20 or more.
President Robben Fleming's re-
sidence is both home and history,
a sort-of "White House" for the
University, while a grayish-blue
haven for him. It is presided over
by a full-time staff of four and
his wife of 31 years, Aldyth Quix-
ley "Sally" Fleming.
When Fleming was appointed
president in 1967, a Regent com-
mented that Ms. Fleming would
"do a marvelous job of filling
the shoes of Mrs. (Harlan) Hat-
And while Ms.Fleming doesn't
know how much the house on
South University is worth, how
much it costs to run it, or what
those presidential parties add up
to, she does know her house's
It was built in 1840, one of
four homes for professors w h o
were teaching at the new uni-
versity. "Each house," she says,
"had its own vegetable garden,
wood house, bar cistern and a
picket fence to keep livestock in
and people out."
Eight presidents have lived
there, each has made an addi-
tion. James Burrill Angell would
not accept the presidency until
the place was given a complete
paper and paint job and in-door
plumbing in 1871. Fleming's in-
novations have been "conven-
ience features" - a freezer for
Sara Fitzgerald is Eaitor of the

the kitchen, a second floor util-
ity room, and a tiny kitchen up-
stairs "to make tea, and keep
soft drinks and ice cream", ac-
cording to Ms.- Fleming.
There are so many fireplaces
(seven) and so many bedrooms
(nine, originally) that she has to
think a moment to count them
up. Downstairs are the m o r e
formal rooms, stocked with Uni-
versity furniture. Upstairs, she
says, "we can feel more, inti-
Probably the coziest ruom on
the first floor is the library.
That's where University horticul-
turist Chuck Jenkins has set up
the Fleming's Christmas t r e e ,
where pictures of the Flemings
and their children line the shelves
and mantle. The bookshelves are
stocked with University of Mich-
igan Press selections (they get a
copy of each publication) and
such diverse books at the Holy
Bible and The Female Eunuch.
(A weathered copy of The Fem-
ininedMystique can also be
In the back is the family din-
ing room, which offers a good
view of the garden Harlan Hen-
thorne Hatcher built and the lib-
rary annex the University built in
his name. Since people are apt to
stare down from the library's
eight floors of carrels, the Flem-
ings pull their drapes when they
eat at night.
Intthe northeast corner is the
addition the Ruthvens built.
ed a wood-paneled study, while
President Alexander R u t h v e n
added a wood-paneled study,
while his wife got into the act
with a red-tiled "plant room."
Fleming's mark on the study
include a somewhat battered
Royal typewriter, mementoes of
his chancellorship at the Uni-

versity of Wisconsin and a fram-
ed poster, presented by the De-
troit chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union. It reads:
"Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By."
The plant room is now filled
with plants provided by Jenk-.
ins, a metal sculpture fountain,
pots Ms. Fleming bought at the
Ann Arbor Art Fair, and two
brass incense burners from In-
dia. The shoulder-high burners
aren't stocked with incense, they
are wired with lights and elec-
"It's a comfortable home," Ms.
Fleming says, "and very beauti-
ful. For its purpose, it's excel-
lent - we can handle such large
groups as the President's Club,
which looks forward to visiting
"It's centrally located-we 'can
walk to the Union, the League,
Hill, Rackham, Power Center.
And with our staff it's so con-
venient. I don't have to worry
about cleaning or meals. It
means I can do more for the
University and thencommunity
that's an important part of my
That "job" includes social serv-
ice and volunteer work with such
groups as Youth for Understand-
ing, the Community Center, t h e
First Presbyterian Church, and
the Ann Arbor Child Care Center,
the First Presbyterian Church,
and the Ann Arbor Child C a r e
Development Group.
And while she suspects a lot of
people view her as "The First
Lady of the University," she'd
rather not be known that way.
"I hate to have a label," she
Part of that role is also super-
vising the parties, teas, dinners,
and receptionscheld in the house
- a social schedule that's pick-
ing up with the holidays as they
try to fit in SACUA members
and department chairmen.
The house will also be crowded
again with children - two daugh-
ters, a son, a son-in-law and a
daughter-in-law. But no grand-
children, she says a trifle wist-
fully, "They're too busy taking
care of their own problems."
The Flemings used to have a
few students board with them-
to keep their daughter, Betsy,
company and help take care of
Fleming's mother. But since Bet-
sy, went off to college this year
and his mother passed away this
fall, the Flemings have been the
only ones home. The house has
been noticeably quieter ever
But peace and quiet have their
advantages. "We're in and out
so much," Ms. Fleming s a y s .
"Bob needs to have some time
when he doesn't have outside
people around."

Ms. Fleming greets a caller

From Fleming's bookshelf

SOUTHERN University burst
into the national headlines the
morning of Nov. 16, 1972. Until
then, the few people who had
ever heard of it knew Southern
as just another quiet campus,
perched high on a bluff overlook-
ing the Mississippi.
The school's setting is the kind
of bucolic river scene that might
have inspired a descriptive para-
graph or two from a young and
not yet cynical Mark Twain.'
In the center of the campus,
just across from the administra-
tion building, stands a large palm
tree, which serves to remind the
visitor that he really is in the
heart of bayou country.
Thursday morning in the sha-
dow of that tree, two students
were found lying in a pool of
blood in front of the administra-
tion building-victims of a stu-
dent-police confrontation.
The first reports of student kill-
ings in two years sent the na-
tional press streaming into Baton
Rouge, largely in the hope of
discovering the real killer. When
it became apparent that the
identity of that person or per-
sons might in fact never be re-
vealed, the interest in Southern
gradually subsided, and barring
further incidents, it is not likely
to be revived.
The Sothern tragedy, however,
r e a l1 y involves two different
stories. It is first of all the story
of Thursday morning and the
events immediately preceding it.
But in a larger sense, it is the
story of the education of black
people in Louisiana and through-
out the entire South. It is part
of the legacy of slavery, Booker
T. Washington and the doctrine
of separate but equal.
Thursday morning capped a
three week period of protest at
Southern at both its Baton Rouge
and New Orleans campuses. The
school is a public university with
a student population of some
9100, nearly all of whom are
Students had been demanding
a greater voice in the school's
policy-making along with a gen-
eral upgrading of services, both
academic and physical.
Complaints of inadequate food,
medical facilities and living con-
ditions w e r e heard frequently.
Also included in the demands was
a call for the resignation of ,mi-
versity president Dr. Leon Net-
tarville, a man many black stu-
dents felt stood in the path of
developing a genuine black con-
The issues in largo part were
o-er questions of power. Would
the university agree to grant
Charles Stein is a Night Edi-
tor for The Daily.

black students an equal role in
running the school or would they
agree to only minor concessions?
The situation was further com-
plicated by the larger structure
of the institutions involved.
Despite its all black enroll-
ment, Southern is controlled by
the Louisiana State Board of Edu-
cation-an elected body with re-
sponsibility for nearly all public
education in the state.
According to black public offi-
cials, the election districts for
the board are drawn in such a
way as to prevent any olacks
from getting elected. Thus a
school whose students and ad-
ministrators are nearly all black
is effectively controlled by a lily
white power structure - hardly
conducive to the growth of black
This structure put the school's
administrators in an extremely
awkward position.
They could stand up and fight
for student demands at the ,,fate
level and risk losing their jobs;
or they could sit on their iuuds
and try to weather the student
discontent. For avariety of zea-
sons, they chose the latter.
Students rejected the admin-
istration's offer for compromise
and on Oct. 25 they called for a
boycott of classes. The next three
weeks were characterized by a.-

in the South, people think it's a
Whatever real level of tension
existed, Netterville felt worried
enough Wednesday night, Nov.
15, to ask for the arrest of four
student leaders. He had asked for
warrants on the four over a week
earlier, according to police, but
a temporary lull in the bovcctt
had prompted him to ask police
for an abeyance.
Among the four was Fred Pre-
jean, a 26-year-old student who
was to become the chief student
spokesman after the confronta-
tion, despite the fact that he
spent the critical hours Thursday
morning in a Baton Rouge jail
At 8:00 Thursday morning, dur-
ing what had become their daily
strategy meeting, boycotting stu-
dents learned of the arrests.
They marched to Netterville's of-
fice to demand the release of
their jailed leaders.
From this point on the account
of events breaks down into con-
flicting reports.
Students say they entered Net-
terville's office, but made it clear
to everyone in the building that
it was not a takeover. Netterville
claims they had taken over his
S t u d e n t s claim Netterville
promised to return and meet


"The strike really had a broad base of

type of projectile was hurled
from the student crowd.
Whether it was a tear gas can-
nister or a grenade simulator as
police were later to claim can
not be determined, but it seems
clear that students did initiate
the action.
Police retaliated with tear-gas
and the scene became one of
absolute chaos. Collins says it
was virtually impossible to see
anything, but he does remember
hearing explosions that sounded
like rifle fire.
When the smoke had cleared,
Denver Smith and L e o n a r d
Brown, two 20-year-old black
men, were found dead on the
At Friday's press conference,
the coroner revealed that the
two students had died from head
wounds inflicted by a number of
small pellets, closely resembling
While conceding the fragments
may have come from shotgun
shells, Gov. Edwin Edwards, left
open the possibility that some
sort of home-made grenade might
havebeen responsible for the
At present, the official version
of the story can not be disproved,
but a numbertof factorssdo seem
to indicate that the shot was
fired by one of the deputies on
the scene.
Both Smith and Brown, for
instance, died at the same in-
stant, perhaps some three feet
apart. They were hit on the left
side as they ran from the build-
ing, and most of the pellets
eventually lodged in their heads.
Ballistics experts agree that this
pattern is consistent with a shot-
gun blast.
A grenade on the other hand,
would most probably explode over
a greater area. Since a good
many students were crowded to-
gether in a relatively small
space, the likelihood that more
than two students would have
been hit by pellets seems great.
Reports indicate, however, that
no one else was even wounded.
The physical similarity between
tear gas and shot gun shells lends
further support to the theory
that one deputy may have fired
a shotgun blast by mistake.
In the days that followed,
Southern students joined students
around the country in linking
Netterville and the police in a
conspiracy to kill.
The facts in this case once
again don't seem to justify the
It seems inconceivable that
Netterville, regardless of his pol-
itics, could have possibly wanted
any students killed. More than
likely he was just an old man
who had lost touch with students
and could no longer handle the
tense situation.

a ti

student support,1
science professor.

says a black political
"There was some intimi-

dation, but it just wasn't that significant.
You have strikes like this all the time in the
North, but when it happens in the South,
people think it's a revolution."

most continuous protest, as the
boycott kept from 50 to 90 per
cent of the students out of class,
depending on whom you talk to.
The level of violence and in-
timidation exercised by student
strikers also seems to vary di-
rectly with the of server's politics.
Conservative faculty members
claim that a hard core cf r.ili-
tants ran the strike and they
cite numerous instances where
students were bodily prevented
from going to class.
William Johnson, a radical po-
litical science professor, offers a
different view of the boyco:t.
"The strike really had a broad
base of student support," says
Johnson, a black man of some
forty years of age. "There was
some intimidation, but it just
wasn't that significant. You have
strikes like this all the time in
the North, but when it happens

with them after a morning ap-
pointment. Netterville denies the
What he did do, however, was
call in Baton Rouge sheriff's
deputies and Louisiana State Po-
lice who arrived on the scene a
little after 10:00 p.m.
Here again, the details of sub-
sequent events become equally
Sheriff Al Amiss, the leader of
the joint-police operation, relates
that he gave the students three
minutes to leave the building.
According to eyewiteness news-
man, R o b e r t Collins, Amiss'
warning was so muffled and dif-
ficult to understand, that it is
likely no one in the building
heard him.
When the three minutes had
elapsed, Amiss ordered his men
in. At this point, Collins, the po-
lice and TV films agree that some

The Flemings smile from the mantle

Incense burner from India

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