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February 05, 1978 - Image 11

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-02-05
Note:
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Page 12-Sunday, February 5, 1978-The Michigan Daily

,: ~:.,e r

I

politics

(Continued from Page 10)
Brad Spencer, too, is quite familiar
with the '70s-model high school student.
An English and journalism teacher, he
has long been an advisor for Huron
High's monthly newspaper, The
Emery, which ran a guest editorial in
its December issue chastising students
for social and political impotence. Hun-
ching listlessly over his desk in a Huron
High classroom-turned-city room,
Spencer offers monotone explanations
for student inaction. "The academic
pressure on students is more severe
today. It's hard for them to devote 100
per cent of their time to any one ac-
tivity," he says.
And when moved to action, usually on
school issues, they choose to work
within the system. "They were aware
of the damage that was done (in the
'60s), of the irresponsibility of those
students who broke windows, and burn-
ed buildings," says Spencer, a '60s
University graduate. "They don't think
that's the way to change things.
They're more interested in the gover-
nmental process.
BUT THERE ARE indications
that Huron High's fledgling
Student Council is democracy
with a string attached. "I get
the feeling that the Student Council is
very closely monitored by the ad-
ministration," says Spencer, citing
frequent principal-student officer
meetings as evidence. To date, there
have been no such rumblings from the
student ranks.
At Pioneer the Student Council and
administration dote over one another in

'V

a celebration of compatibility. "I get
along very well with the ad-
ministration," boasts Student Council
President Ken Brock. "It's a more
mature attitude about how things really
work."
"The vast majority of students in this
school see the administration as being
on the same side as they," says
Assistant Principal Graham. "We don't
have the rift we once had between the
students and the authority. I hear none
of this anti-administration talk that
existed in both schools some years
ago."
And there has been no organized
dissent at Pioneer for years over any
cause. "We see this complacency in our
country," says Graham. Period.
There is complacency written all
over Pioneer's student newspaper, The
Optimist, whose total advertising con-
sisted of two hulking ads on the back
page of the December 16 issue: side-by-
side Army and Navy recruitment
notices. More than half of the four-page
paper was devoted to sports coverage,
there was no Student Council or political
news, and no editorial corner. It all ad-
ds up to a paper that resembles its sub-
stantive predecessor of the early '7 s in*
name only.
Says Brock, "There's no open
protest. Unlike several years ago, these
things are being discussed in the
classrooms. There, you can affect
opinion. Opinion votes.
"I don't think one should un-
derestimate the power of passive per-
suasion that exists in the open
classroom," he adds. "They're very

open, too. Most of my teachers try to
brew up controversy because of the
educational value in it."
But across town at Huron it's a
radically different story, as January
graduate Steve Bennish tells it. (Ben-
nish wrote the editorial in -the Emery
blasting student apathy). "My
American Studies teacher gave me five.
minutes at the beginning of each period
to recap the news of the past week. I
tried to spark some interest, but most
times I met up with a very
lackadaisical attitude.
"There are as many issues as there
ever were, but these kids don't even
read the paper," he continues. "They
don't know things like who the vice
president is, who the secretary of state
is, who Brezhnev is! A third of the kids
weren't even aware of what happened
at Entebbe."
As for the educators' influence, "I
had an English teacher tell me you
couldn't stand up for any political ideal
because the means don't ever accom-
plish any ends, which I think is patently
absurd. True, if the support isn't there,
you can't much rally people. And
there's a great impenetrable
cynicism-it's very frustrating."
And finally: "You know, most of the
kids didn't know what the Senate Bill 1
(S-1) was. They'd wake up one morning
and be marched off to jail and they still
wouldn't know what it was..."
OME PEOPLE THINK there's
an alternative in this town for
political and social movers-
Community High. Phil Carroll,

who teaches a course on radical politics
at Community, says the students with
whom he has worked are well informed
and are particularly "keen to
authoritarianism, things that are not
democratic." His class staged a teach-
in on South African issues for the whole
student body. The student body, mean-
while, takes an active role in- school
decisions.
"The students who I am involved with
basically think that electoral politics
are a dead end and I certainly don't
discourage that view," says Carroll.
But even at Community there appears
to be something lacking in the students'
approach to politics: motivation. The
school, for instance, lacks a student
newspaper.
Al Autin, a 16-year-old Community
High junior disgusted with schoolmates
he calls "complacent," has gravitated
to Keith Hefner's underground
publishing operation. For school credit
in the Community Resource Program,
Autin spends much of his time working
with Hefner in producing the nationally
distributed, and quite sophisticated
magazine for youth liberation,
FPS-appropriately, Fuck Publik
Schools.
Still, that radical basement printshop
is not Community High, and Hefner
knows he hasn't the magic to return
even that one alternative school to the
'60s.
"There was a lot of political
awareness at Community, but not much
political involvement," recalls Rachel
Coffin, a 1976 Community graduate.
"But this is the '70s, you know."

ke

I-

owhipisHihS
HE HALLS smell tl
remember them, of lockers
rooms and the chlorine of ti
the stray couples are still necl
classes. The monotone of b
cheerleaders, the shriekinm
smoke-filled bathrooms-t
gone anywhere.
But a tour of Ann Arbc
Huron and Community High
uncover subtle changes that
post-war calm have inspirec
not dissent, and the shadow
versity no longer casts a rac
over the proximal high scho(
demic blue. Even experimen
munity High School are faci
test.
Four years removed from
it all, four Daily reporters sp
sorting out the high school r
Class is now in session.

film

(Continued from Page 8)
merely a void-filler. And any film
that needs that is a film that's in
trouble.
Yet as a confirmed sci-fi nut, I
must give Spielberg & Co. at least
one more chance. I may well have
missed a concept or two the first time
around, and besides, the visual
effects are lovely, and besides that,
I'm lonely and at least there'll be
people there. Maybe something will
change...
December 27, midnight. Incredib-
ly, something has changed. The film
still seemed very long, the conspir-
acy subplot unrelentingly frivolous,
the unexplained whys and where-
brdg
(Continued from Page 8)
He was just about to say "two", when
he followed Beth's cue, and began to
choke on his candy bar. He finally
managed to regain his composure on
his own, however, and finished his
countdown. "One," he said.
I was about to toss the cards in for
down one, when I realized the
significance of what Jeff had just said.
Five, four, three, one. Of course! It was
all so simple! How could I have missed
it? And with that, I cashed the ace and
king of diamondsr (remember, I still
have four diamonds in dummy at this
point), ruffed a diamond, the queen and'
jack dropping, and pitched my heart
queen on dummy's long diamond,
making seven. That five, four, three,
one comment had been the key. It made

fores of the aliens' actions ambigu-
ous and annoying. And yet, what
different results. Maybe it was the
booze, maybe the collective anticipa-
tion of the this-time packed audience,
but by film's end I found tears
streaming down my face, my mind
wrapped into eternity-spanning long-
ings for warmth and contact. Has
Spielberg touched a deep chord after
all?
THE FINAL scene's face-to-face
encounter between man and
alien now strikes me as one of the
most moving sequences I've ever
seen in a motion picture; just to
watch that infinitely old, infinitely
wise face smiling through the mist of

light, to be able to think: "At last! At
last it's happened!" The confronta-
tion lends credence to the critically
much-maligned search by Close En-
counters' protagonists for their ob-
sessed mountain vision. Mysterious
mountain. Mystic answer to feeble
man's prayers. An end to isolation.
An inroad to love, perhaps. I leave
the theater shaken and more than a
little upset, but with a relieved
certainty that, for the first time this
entire vacation, I'm feeling good.
January 4, midnight. My third trip
to Close Encounters. This time, I've
done something which would probab-
ly strike the casual (and perhaps
avid) flimgoer as ludicrous and
bizarre: I've spirited a cassette re-
corder into the theater and proceed-
ed to tape much of the film, dialogue
as well as music. I don't know
whether I've done it more for critical
understanding or for personal ther-
apy. As I play the tape back I sense
an actual mesmerizing warmth, a

feeling I've never experienced from
another film - or book, for that
matter. I don't know why it's
happening, but I'm basking in every
minute of it.
I'm ready to forgive Close Encoun-
ters all its inconsistencies and illogic
simply to enjoy what I'm feeling now.
And I think I understand a few things
I could not perceive before. Spiel-
berg's work is only superficially
about outerspace visitors and Earth-
ling reaction. At its primal level it's a
film about loneliness, about the
terrible singularity of man as he now
exists. For the first time I under-
stand the "We are not alone" hype
carried in Close Encounters' news-
paper ads. The phrase isn't meant
ominously, it's a reassurance: "Take
hope, take courage, things will
change."
At this moment, I'm willing to
believe they will. The cynic in me has
gone into hibernation; this just may
be a good year after all.

me realize that Alan's distribution was
precisely five hearts, four spades, three
diamonds and one club. And if he had
three diamonds, then Beth did too, and
it was a simple matter to set up the long
diamond after a ruff.
Beth and Alan congratulated me and
moved on to the next table, each trying
to convince the other that it was his or
her fault.
I turned my attention to Jeff, and
screamed, "Why you outrageous pig!
How could you have done such a
thing?"
"Who, me?" he queried innocently.
"Yes," I replied curtly. "That was no
accident. You didn't really choke, did
you?"
But he just shot me one of his, in-
sidious grins, and picked up his next
hand.

I

SundaY magadzine

Susan Ades
Elaine Fletcher

Co-editors

Jay Levin
Tom O'Connell

inside:
On the

Behind every

Associate Editors

court for high-schooler
Huron High... is the Big 'U'

Understanding
the politics
of passivism

Comi
High
shake

Cover Photo by Steve Kagan

Supplement to The Michigan Dailys

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, February 5, 1978

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