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May 09, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-05-09

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Page 4-Tuesday, May 9, 1978-The Michigan Daily
imichigan DAILY
Eighty-eightdYears of Editorial Freedom
420 Mynard St., Ann Arbor, M. 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 5-S News Phone: 764-0552
Tuesday, May 9, 1978
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
'U' in conflict
about Samoff
SOMETHING'S WRONG when a university
honors a faculty member for teaching excel-
lence and, almost in the same breath, boots him
out of the school.
That's exactly what has happened with
Political Science Assistant Professor Joel Sam-
off. Last week, Samoff was among seven junior
faculty members chosen to receive a
Distinguished Service Award for "excellence in
teaching and University service."
Only two months ago, Samoff was denied
tenure for the second time by the department's
tenured faculty. The denial came despite high
praise of Samoff's teaching skills from students
and staff alike. Also, the department's Executive
Committee had recommended tenure promotion
for Samoff.
Some observers say Samoff's tenure denials
came because of the professor's Marxist political
views and because his research is not as
voluminous as other professors. But the teaching
award vividly points out that Samoff's classroom
performance is certainly not lacking-that's the
opinion of those inside the University who selected
And though the professor's research may not
flow abundantly, universities exist to educate
people-a fact which tends to be forgotten in a
large school striving to out-research other univer-
Samoff intends to appeal the tenure rejections,
and last week's award should illuminate the need
to keep him at the University to those who have
twice neglected this need.
It is indeed ironic that faculty members
recognize Samoff's outstanding teaching talents
but don't think he deserves tenure. What has hap-
pened to University priorities?
-eDNIM A 60oee-oors G=osAS r% PEOPLE
- A

An alumnus recalls
the way we weren't

By Bill Turque
Ann Arbor, Michigan. Election
Eve, 1972. A candlelight march
for George McGovern winds its
way across the University cam-
pus. It is a funeral procession,
really; none of us still seriously
thinks he will beat Richard Nixon
The march organizers gamely
lead us in a few chants, and
through the windows of the dor-
'I felt cheated at first,
realizing I was a rider on
the coattails of history.
All through high school I
felt like an outsider
looking in, watching a
generation of college
students before me grab a
nation by the lapels and
show it the moral
bankruptcy of the Viet-
nam War.'
mitories heads that had been
buried in organic chemistry,
Hegel or Monday Night Football
emerge briefly to watch us.
people in the windows to join, oc-
casionally taunting them when
they show no interest. Longtime
Ann Arborites curse the march's
modest turnout. It would not have
been this way in '69 or '70, they
say. The streets would have
flowed with students venting
righteous anger. The blare of
bullhorns would have rattled
classroom windows with anit-
Nixon and anti-war chants.
Would have, would have ...
When the march broke up, a
friend and I decided to go door to
door on our dormitory floor,
making one last-ditch McGovern
plea to the faithless, who were
mostly ROTC and engineering
students. We were laughed at,
brushed aside, ignored.
That was the beginning of my
freshman year in Ann Arbor. In
my first weeks there I had heard
reverent accounts of the town's
rich radical political heritage,
"The Berkley of the Midwest," as
it was hailed by some.
THIS WAS THE land of the $5
pot law, of Tom Hayden and the
first Vietnam teach-in; a black
student strike paralyzed the
University for a week, forcing it
to establish a minimum percen-
tage of black enrollment. I was
certainly no budding Mark Rudd,
but after seven years of relative
slumber in a staid Eastern prep
school I was excited by the
prospect of being in an at-
mosphere where the marketplace.
of ideas was stqcked to the
highest shelf, where basic
assumptions about the way we
lived were being questioned.
During the march that evening,
there was the unmistakable
sense of a passion that had been
irretrievably spent, a fire in the

gut that would not return for a
long time. There would be oc-
casional adrenalin surges, but it
didn't take long to realize the sun
had set on the sixties. A bright af-
ternoon of promise had become a
long evening of cynicism.
I felt cheated at first, realizing
that I was a rider on the coattails
of history. All through high school
I felt like an outsider looking in,
watching a generation of college
students before me grab a
nation by the lapels and show it
the moral bankruptcy of the
Vietnam War. I had, iteseemed,
watched the sixties on television.
The seventies seemed to hold the
same fate, in the form of Senator
Sam sorting out Watergate or a
sweating, pathetic Nixon
denying it all.
THE NATION'S press, in its
characteristic lust for trends,
picked up quickly on the new
"quiet" that descended on Ann
Arbor and other campuses.
Every year we could all look for-
ward to a piece in Time or
Newsweek expressing
amazement that books were in
and brickbats out in college
towns, that Frisbees, not tear
gas, filled the air.
To a certain extent, it was
probably an honest portrayal.
Thebars and the libraries were
assured of being crammed every
night of the. week. Fraternities
and sororities made a big
comeback. People even started
swallowing goldfish. Gestures of
defiance seemed to lose their im-
pact. The annual Hash Bash took
on the trappings of a sideshow at-
traction, drawing what seemed to
be mainly a gathering of press
and local high school kids by the
mid-70's. Itbecame hip not to go.
generation of grade grubbers,
sabotaging other students' lab
experiments, ripping key pages
from library books, concocting
elaborate schemes for cheating
on exams. I like to think I wasn't
a part of it, but my silence
probably made me one.
It was easy to see why it was
happening. In a world that had
less and less use for an un-
dergraduate liberal arts degree,
many of us were running scared.
We saw the furure, and it didn't
work. There were no teaching
jobs to be had, and if your sights
weren't set on professional school
you were, by and large, staring
oblivion in the face. Given this
almost desperate atmosphere,
the people who led he marches,
the strikes, the arrests
sometimes seemed painfully out
of place when they returned to
talk about it. For a few, the late
sixties had been a high they
would never reach again. You
could see them on the streets
from time to time, hanging on in
Ann Arbor long after they had
any real purpose in being there.
In some cases they were"
penalized for their political ac-
tivity, making the sullen or bit-

THERE WERE other wars we
coped with, but the questions
seemed more ambigious; right
and wrong was no longer black
and white, but all the shades of
gray. There was nothing quite
like the gut-wrenching wrongness
of the war, In an era of eroding
budgets for higher education, it
was simply a struggle to preser-
ve many of the gains that had
been made before we arrived,
'For afew, the latesixties
had been a high they
would never reach again.
You could see them on
the streets from time to
time, hanging on in Ann
Arbor long after they had
any real purpose in being
there. '
particularly in the areas of
curriculum reform and student
The disputes were slow-
moving, cumbersome, sticky.
How did you meet affirmative ac-
tion goals when positions were
being cut back? Did an
organization like the CIA have a
right to recruit students on cam-
pus? Was recombinant DNA
research a threat to public
safety? What about the Univer-
sity's investments in South
Africa? Should they be divested,
or would that simply make the
job picture there that much wor-
se for the black man? It's enough
to make you want to run for the
nearest cubbyhole in the un-
dergraduate library.
Four autumns later, sadder but
certainly no wiser, I ended my
life in Ann Arbor much the same
way I began it - trying to in-
terest people in an election in
which there seemed no good
reason to be interested. I was
struggling to write a newspaper
editorial explaining that a vote
fQr Jimmy Carter was not merely
a vote against Gerald Ford. It
took a lot of explaining.
I'm not nostalgic about any of
it, yet. I don't hear Streisand
humming the first few bars of
"The Way We Were." In time,
maybe. Until then, however, I'll
be thinking more about the way
we weren't.
Bill Turque Daily editor in
chief from February 1975
through January 1976, is now
a reporter for the Kansas City
Star. This piece is reprinted
from the Star with permission.

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