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May 26, 1978 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-05-26

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Page 4-Friday, May 26, 1978--The Michigan Daily
wmichigan DAILY
Eighty-eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI. 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 18-S News Phone: 764-0552
Friday, May 26, 1978
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Plymnouth refor-m
must come now
N EARLY March, after the Detroit Free Press
reported that residents of the Plymouth Center
for Human Development were being abused and
neglected, Federal District Court Judge Charles
Joiner ordered fundamental reforms for the Cen-
Joiner directed the Center to increase its staff-
resident ratio to one to four during the day and one
to eight at night. He also established a monitoring
group to supervise activities at Plymouth and
report any abuses which may occur. He ordered
the Plymouth staff to be directly accountable to
certain residents.
It appears, however, that Little has been done
by Plymouth administrators to abide by Joiner's
orders. The monitoring group released a report
Tuesday stating that residents of two halls still
live in smelly, noisy conditions with inadequate
supervision. Aggressive residents have not been
separated from passive ones as Joiner ordered,
the 67-page report said. It also said the Center is
still no more accountable to residents.
Abuse and neglect continue at Plymouth and lit-
tle action is being taken to rectify the situation.
Although many incapable and harmful attendants
have been fired or suspended, many remain. The
report indicates that the new attendants have
received inadequate training. This is apalling,
especially since former Plymouth Acting Director
Evelyn Provitt proposed to establish a new
training program for attendants.
The matter has been in the hands of the
Plymouth Administration for too long. It should
now be transferred to state or federal officials so
they can begin making the proper changes. All of
Judge Joiner's changes should be immediately
A special investigative task force, directed by
Governor William Milliken, released a list of
recommendations several weeks ago that seem
appropriate. Now these ideas must be acted upon.
It appears that the present Plymouth staff is in-
capable of making the necessary changes on its

Students must endeavor to
redistribute power in 'U'

Educational reform movements have largely
fallen short of expectations because of a failure to
internalize a basic truth-that the University is a
business that operates in a larger social order upon
which it demands, and which it serves.
"Educational innovation" programs and "ex-
periments" exist largely asa thorn in the side of the
administration, which in proper businesslike
fashion, is preoccupied with the "product"-us.
REFORM MOVEMENTS within universities
cannot exist in a vacuum. The concept of the
university as a training ground for society at large
is still a potent one. To the extent that we object to
the dehumanizing aspects of our learning environ-
ment we must understand the social forces which
have necessitated it. And to the extent that we ob-
ject to the social-political injustices or the self-
destructive course of society, we must understand
its origins within our own educational experience.
The so-called "neutral" university has been shaped
to fit into a very questionable political order. We
should derive optimism from the fact that it can
likewise be shaped to fulfill its legitimate role and
responsibility. Among these responsibilites are the
promotion of critical thinking, free inquiry, and
personal freedom, rather than rigidity, conformity
and dependence.
We, as students, are objects of a campaign to in-
still a sense of powerlessness and the futility of
building community. This strikes home, but equally
important, it strikes beyond the confines of our in-
stitution. For instance, how could a whole
population find itself in blind defense of an arbitrary
economic order if it weren't for education that con-
ditions a fear of independent judgment.
As students organizing for change, then, we
should focus on the quality of our own education. We
should view it as much more than narrow self-
interest but in fact, as integral to the larger political
struggles for freedom, equality and understanding.
A MAJOR responsibility of students is to work
together and with sympathetic faculty to
systematically redistribute decision-making power
in the University bureaucracy. It is no secret that
progressive faculty continually face weeding out
through the tenure system, as in the case of Prof.
Joel Samoff. Students need a strong voice in all
decisions relating to composition of the faculty.
Especially important is a campus-wide course
evaluation system.
Budget priorities are now set without significant
regard for the quality of education. Costly research
programs of esoteric and often eccentric faculty of-
ten contribute nothing to the advancement of the
learning for students, and are relevant only for their
own sake. The only research generally considered
as legitimate, whether among undergrads, grads,
or faculty, is quantitative statistical nonsense that
often distorts reality, as in the excuses offered by
the Sullivan principles for continued University in-
vestment in South Africa.
Class size at the University has consistently inter-
fered with meaningful learning. There are solutions
to these problems, the first of which is gaining ac-

cess to the decision-making structure which has
thus far only perpetuated the insensitive,
bureaucratic non-action that plagues the whole
University community.
THE UNIVERSITY has failed to provide for
adequate student space-for example, in the
Michigan Union, where the vitality of the student
community could be greatly bolstered by some
serious planning: The Administration, in fact, has
reclaimed the student-financed Student Activities
Building for administrative functions-again, a
closed decision having no mandate from the student
body. Research into this and related matters, which
the Peoples' Action Coalition supports, will show
how much, in terms of facilities, the University
student is short-changed for his or her tuition dollar.
Results of this type of research, critical of both the
major administrative decisions and the university's
day to day operations, must be widely com-
municated throughout the university.
We cannot afford, especially those of us with lets
opportunity, such as women and blacks and other
minorities, to be passive in the face of University
decisions that affect the quality of our education. It
'. to the extent that we object to the
dehumanizing aspects of our learning
environment we must understand the
social forces which have necessitated it.'
is clear that students alone have the respon-
sibility-by default-to develop a true two-way
process of learning between "teachers" and "lear-
ners." We have the responsibility of challenging the
authoritarianism of our institution, which all too ef-
fectively deflates our will to do anything but "get
through" and commits to cynicism and apathy our
most valuable resources-ourselves.
Most importantly,.we have the right to participate
in deciding the conditions under which we seek our
education, for example through direct student par-
ticipation on the Board of Regents. But the question
remains-What is necessary to insure more
adequate decisions and better planning, whether
regarding curriculum, research, composition of
faculty, .tuition, housing, affirmative action, cor-
porate investments, or other issues? How can these
decisions be made to include students, who are most
deeply affected by them?
IT IS WIDELY accepted that education should
become less "mechanizing" and more
"humanizing," less of a "static" process and more
of a "dialectical" one, less attuned to "quantity of
information" and more attuned to "quality of lear-
ning," and not as "fragmentary" but rather
"holistic" in approach. These terms must be tran-
slated into a well-conceived strategy for student
This piece was written by members of the
Peoples' Action Coalition, which holds several
seats on the Michigan Student Assembly.


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Do jets really block peace?
the Daily: AND HOW HAS Israel respon- the Congress heroically opposed
(our editorial on the jet sale to ded to such a bold and historical and beat the once invincible
Middle East lacked complete peace summons? By invading Israeli lobby in order to bring the
wledge of the problem and Lebanon and using cluster bombs arms balance equation. between
ved to mislead your readers to bombard indiscriminately in- the Israelis and Arabs near
the important issues of the nocent men, women, and parity. Your Jets Block Peace
ns sales. children. They have continued, editorial is a misconception. You
(ou explain that the Arabs and contrasy to world opinion and are blaming the arms sales for
aelis can afford to be more in- human rights, to expand and the blockade of peace. You fail to
xible with the possession of the establish new settlements in comprehend that Israel is
w arms, yet you do not occupied Arab territories. To at- blocking any peace hopes by their
ognize the fact that Sadat's tain their policy of expansion the policy of expansion and refusal to
ice initiative went beyond - Israelis resort to oppression and negotiate under equal terms. And
xibility in order to reach economic strangulation of the they will continue to refuse to
ce, and in doing this he has poor Arab farmers on the West negotiate for peace as long as
ced himself in danger of an Bank. they remain the bully, militarily
ifs bullet or e taliver President Carter, perhaps not unopposed in the Middle East.
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