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June 09, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1971-06-09

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Letters to The Daily

- rassroo s

Memories of c

School board vote

To The Daily:
FOR THE FIRST TIME since
1967, University students are be-
coming involved in an election
for school board. This can be
partially explained by the gener-
al increase in electoral activity
which many believe is a viable
tactic for an otherwise demora-
lized student movement. In par-
ticular, it is doe to the con-
scious decision of the Radical
Independent Party (RIP), to
challenge the moderate orthodox
concensus in Ann Arbor school
matters as part of a long-run ef-
fort to develop a solid local base.
The present system of non-par-
tisan school board elections
functions to mystify the voters,
by posing political decisions as a
search for a "honest, responsi-
ble"person. Campaigns arede-
signed to promote cliched slo-
gans while any serious discussion
of divisive issues is buried under
the rhetoric of consensus. Peo-
ple like Ralph Bolhouse, former
owner of Ralph's Market which
was closed down because of its
unsanitary conditions, and Du-
ane Renken, notorious slumlord
often struck by the Tenants
Union, can appear as nice, friend-
ly folk while hiding their reac-
tionary views in a fog of cliches.
The RIP school board cam-
paign has succeeded in present-
ing an important issue of elec-
toral participation. RIP's candi-
date, Prof. Robert Hefner, is the
only candidate to run explicitly
as a representative of a politi-
cal party. He is also the only
candidate to urge that all future
school board elections occur on a
partisan basis.
The breakdown of the non-par-
tisan facade is important if peo-
ple are to understand the inter-
connection between local prob-
lems, such as schools, and the
overall political and economic
structure. The Democrats can
now covertly run candidates un-
der the auspices of "citizens"
groups rather than having to jus-
tify their responsibility for the
lack of funds for education and
the regressive tax structure used
to raise it.
THE ISSUES of the school

board election are political in.
nature and reflect the basic prob-
lems of society. Community con-
trol, racism, sexism, discrimina-
tion against gay people, tracking.
which perpetuates class divi-
sions, taxation which hits low-
income groups harder than the
rich, and the guarantee of basic
student civil liberties are all
fundamental societal issues. Only
political parties can deal with
these issues within a systematic
ideological framework and not in
piecemeal fashion.
The Hefner campaign is an im-
portant step in the long-run pro-
cess of building a viable alterna-
tive to the two-party system. RIP
has begun to make contact with
other groups in the state and
country which share the same
goal. There can be no illusions
that the Democratic Party is
ready to collapse, but there is a
growing disenchantment with its
unresponsivenss.
This feeling will be reinforced
in '72 when voters are again
forced to choose between two
candidates committed to defend-
ing -the vested interests of the
powerful and rich. The Demo-
cratic Party will again demon-
strate that it is an unholy alli-
ance controlled by Southern rac-
ists, reactionary oil millionaires,
smooth corporate liberals and
conservative union bureaucrats
which hoodwinks workers, blacks,
and students into voting for it as
the lesser of two evils. The lead-
ership of the Democratic Party
smothers political discussion and
stresses personality cults, of
which the Kennedy myth is the
most grotesque.
STUDENTS AND intellectuals
have b e g u n to question the
usefulness of remaining with-
in the two-party system. RIP is
symptomatic of this process and
represents a first step in Ann
Arbor, the creation of a viable
local party. A vote for Bob Hef-
ner for school board will help
RIP gain momentum in its early
stages so that an ongoing pres-
ence can be established. A vote
for Hefner will count.
-Eric Chester
June 8

EVERY SEASON of growth, be. it physical or emo-
tional, has its own story. The following is my
offering-a recent story about a plaza and its occu-
pants.
Letting the Administration Bldg.'s glass doors
close behind me, I turned to view the outside from
the inside. I looked at the modern concrete patch-
work that spread before me, offset only by a black
cube-cheap copy of a New York original. It spun
before me on its edge like a top, teasing the foreign,
camera-laden students. They were impressed, no
doubt, by its novelty; where but America are a na-
tion's art treasures divined by some mechanical
wizard then transformed into a plaything of the
masses?
Over on either side of my vision's range were two
reminders of signs conspicuous by their absence. A
year and a half ago, two oft-painted metal plates
filled those spots, proclaiming the latest victor in the
war of Good vs. Evil-People's Plaza (representing

: plaza's past
by mark diflen
We surely were no optimists in pitching our sleep-
ing bags and coarse dorm blankets in the still-snowy
weather "in support" of Davis. Though as freshmen
our perceptions were limited, I think we knew the
tenants of the six-story edifice above our heads were
far more powerful than our new-found ally. And
those whose paths crossed the plaza during that one
night seemed disinterested beyond their greetings
of "right on, man." To ourselves, we admitted our
political zeal only extended to our bemused excite-
ment at something new. Beyond that, our fervor was
illusory.
OVER A YEAR had come and gone since those
days, and with it the filling and emptying of that
stone basin several times with angry people who felt
their presence was the only way those peering out
the porthole windows above them would listen to
their complaints. My friends and I would sometimes
now find ourselves among those crowds, our amuse-

+ook

s

It

420 Maynard Street, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Edited and managed by students at the
University of Michigan
Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual
opinions of the author. This must be noted in all reprints.
Wednesday, June 9, 1971 News Phone: 764-0552
NIGHT EDITOR: MARK DILLEN

the efforts of The People) and Regent's Plaza (rep-
resenting the efforts of The Power Elite's running
dog lackeys).
BACK THEN, walking across these icy wastes on
my way to classroom regimentation it did me and
my friends much good to have some early morning
diversion. Partaking in the Revolution was a harm-
less identification. I thought then, but nevertheless
for that same reason we found it suitable for our
tastes and quite practical. It was like making the
daily trip to our dormitory mailboxes in our home
across the street; there was always something to
look forward to, even if the arrival at our destination
yielded nothing new.
Later, we found more diversion just yards away
from where I now stood (on the other side of the
door). Half-jokingly, half in earnest, we took up a
night's residence on the concrete slab in front of the
building's entrance. From there, we glanced inside to
where Michael Davis, a philosophy student, was
sleeping and fasting for a set of rules which no one
had heard of, much less cared about. We learned
they had something to do with the student power
that some were still seeking. The Regents didn't like
it so it was killed.

ment replaced by a new sense of indignation, not
righteous, but affected enough to be angry.
But now I was peering from behind one of those
glass windows, on the ground floor, looking from the
inside out. This time I was flanked by University
security personnel, standing watching a group of
union janitors form a 30-member picket line. This
time, it was the security people and a few secretaries
on their lunch break who stood with bemused glances
toward the janitors. Now they were the spectators
and this their entertainment.
"That's a good show they're putting on for us, eh?"
said Chief Security Officer Roland Gainsley. Fire
Marshal and ex-Marine Russell Downing chuckled.
"I can see why they're out there picketing-they
need the exercise!" Gainsley exclaimed. More
chuckles.
Outside, they were going around in a circle. Young
longhairs, old men with black or white faces, mid-
dle-aged women with tired expressions and South-
ern accents. Serious on the outside, laughing within.
Pointing a finger, one insider laughed, "Now she's
a real hillbilly!"
I TURNED AWAY and heard a secretary say be-
fore we parted that there was really something
wrong. My feelings did not seem illusory.

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