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June 28, 1979 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1979-06-28

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Page 4-Thursday, June 28, 1979-The Michigan Daily
SMichigan Daily
Eighty-nine Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48109
Vol. LXXXIX, No. 35-S News Phone: 7640552
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Ridership, funds
may save Amtrak
A MTRAK, LONG-TIME loser and gobbler of
government funds, is witnessing a ridership
boom. Although the upswing is more likely due to
the energy crisis than service improvements, it
forbodes a greater impact than mere crowded
conditions.
Last week Transportation Secretary Brock
Adams revealed the Carter Administration's in-
tent to review and alter its rail cutback plan,
ridership permitting. Adams proposed slashing
12,000 miles of track from the system by October
1 in the plan, but some lines may be reinstated if
the passenger increase persists. Adams said the
administration is now willing to spend an extra
$65 million to revamp the government-subsidized
system.
Last year Amtrak shouldered an operating
deficit of about $970 million and is losing $600
million already this year. The cutback plans are
not surprising in view of such astronomical losses,
but extensive service severance may damage the
system's chance to make good.
Amtrak enjoys the long-awaited opportunity to
become a public transport asset, instead of an oft-
maligned burden. Ridership has been rising since
last October, and in May, Amtrak turned away
756,246 prospective passengers. Increased
Congressional interest, in the form of pressure to
revise cutback plans, also promises to preserve
the system.
But this bright outlook surely will dim if Am-
trak's management does not improve. The rider-
ship boom will likely falter if the trains are
repeatedly late or in disrepair. Informed sources
indicated trains running from Washington to Mon-
treal, New-York-Florida, Washington to New
Orleans, and Chicago-Texas may receive a new
lease on life from the administrative review. The
shortage and expense of gasoline should boost
demand for these lines in the future. If they are
abandoned now lack of upkeep may preclude
later reopening regardless of popularity. They
should not be severed unless ridership levels are
definitely hopeless.
The Carter administrationastill planssto prune
the 27,700 mile system. But as Adams said, "To
preserve it as is would be like putting for-
maldehyde into a corpse." Overhauls should be
directed at tracks and trains where ridership is
increasing, while little-used ones are phased out.
Prudent management may finally turn Amtrak
into a lucrative enterprise.
SPORTS STAFF

A university cannot remain
neutral on moral issues

By TIMOTHY HEALY, S.J.

We have recently seen a strong
and much publicized defense of a
university's financial dealings
from the president of Harvard,
Derek Bok. It is tightly reasoned,
and is interesting. It has been
given national prominence, since
the issue is one that has faced
many universities, including this
one. It takes, however, a position
that I do not think that the
religious traditions of
Georgetown University will ever
permit it to take. Read at its wor-
st, and perhaps in public plat-
forms it is easier to read things at
their worst, it claims that the
university is in its external ac-
tivity, and, by implication, in its
internal teaching and research, a
moral neuter. I do not think
Georgetown wants to or can ac-
cept that definition of itself.
It seems to me that there are
several major accents missing
from the Harvard paper that
Georgetown ought to labor to
supply. The first of these is the
understanding of the being and
function of the university as prin-
cipally centered in its un-
dergraduate instruction, in the
preparation of new citizens for an
ever renewing republic, in the
give and take of the relatively un-
structured, partially un-
specialized and explosive un-
dergraduate classroom. In this
arena the university's best
teaching is done, over the course
of the years the greatest
challenge is issued to every bit of
its received wisdom, and the im-
portant mesh is made between
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clear thinking and high living.
Great universities in the Western
tradition have acknowledged that
the heart and center of their
works are their undergraduate
colleges. Whether you call this
the liberal-arts traditien, modern
humanism or simply an
American college, doesn't matter
much. This is a common note that
goes all the way back to
Georgetown's tiny grandfather in
St. Omers, and well beyond it into
the medieval beginnings of
universities themselves. If that is
the case, and if a university
acknowledges this reality, then
the notion of its being a moral
cipher is unsupportable. There is
no way in which we can claim
that the good life is not an
ultimate purpose of the examined
life. And to lock ourselves within
that examination is to cut our
students off from the best lear-
ning their undergraduate years
should bring them, and to reduce
faculty to the shadow of their
humanity.
IT IS PERFECTLY clear that
the president of Harvard did not
mean to say this much about the
internal reality of his university.
It is precisely because the in-
vestment problems he raises
cannot be put in strictly intellec-
tual terms that they are problems
in the first place. If the only
moral issue facing the university
is the use to which it puts its
money, in the state of all our
poverties (and in that I would in-
clude Harvard) there is very lit-
tle possibility of immortal expen-

se. But the problem of what sup-
port a university receives, for
what purpose, under what cir-
cumstances, with what strings
attached, and how it uses that
support once it is received is not a
matter that can be decided stric-
tly on whether or not the cause of
learning be advanced. The truth
is a larger issue.
... on a hugehill
Cragged and steep, Truth
stands, and he that will
Reach her, about must, and
about must go,
And what the hill's
suddenness resists,
win so.
In this thicket of issues,
Georgetown has-not yet brought
its own thinking into the clear.
We should be Irateful to
President Bok for his courage in
opening up the discussion. Our
own position is now before a
university committee, and I don't
wish to preempt its recommen-
dations. On the other hand, it is
obvious to me that Harvard's
desire to lean backward to avoid
public moral stances is not a
posture suitable to Georgetown.
We are grateful, but we will not
follow.
Father Healy is president of George-
town University. This article, which
appeared in the Washington Post, is
adapted from remarks at the spring
convocation.

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Letters
PIRGIM's survey on nukes

To the Daily:
A survey conducted by the
Public Interest Research Group
in Michigan (PIRGIM) show
that Washtenaw County residents
are calling for a reassessment of
nuclear power. Our
Congressman, Mr. (Carl) Pur-
sell, now has the opportunity to
act on this information.
PIRGIM's survey of 300 scien-
tifically randomly-selected
Washtenaw County residents was
conducted during the week of
June 4-8. The survey specifically
solicited the opinions of residents
on two nuclear proposals before

Congress, the Fish Bill and Weiss
Bill.
The legislation introduced by
Representative Fish calls for a 5-
year moratorium on new nuclear
plants, with a close examination
of safety and waste disposal
systems during that time. The
survey showed that this bill is
supported by a 3-1 margin:
The Weiss bill calls for a repeal
of the $560 million liability ceiling
in case of a nuclear disaster (the
Price-Anderson Act). Washtenaw
County residents, by a lopsided
vote of 6-1, want utilities to be

responsible for all property and
health-related damages in a
serious nuclear accident.
Co-sponsorship of the Fish and
Weiss bills by Mr. Pursell would
be in order. It is a rare moment
when public sentiment is so clear-
cut on an issue. The people of
Washtenaw County have spoken.
Now, it is up to our elected of-
ficials to take the lead. Call our
congressman at 971-5760 and ask
him whether he intends to
provide leadership on this vital
issue.
-Greg Hesterberg
PIRGIM

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