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April 11, 1980 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-11

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a

Page 4--Friday, April 11, 1980--The Michigan Daily
It's more than no

exams and casual

lectures

FREIBURG, West Germany-I ama
University of Michigan student spen-
ding my junior year in Freiburg,
Federal Republic of Germany. I am
here for many reasons, but above all, I
want to learn about the differences
between life in Germany and in the
States.
Many of the important differences
between the two countries have
provided me with the opportunity to
look not only at this country, but at my
own land from another point of view.
STUDYING ABROAD means, among
other things, seeing that there is an
alternative to CRISP. It means there is
more to life than five hours in the Grad
library five nights a week. Generally, it
means seeing that there is more than
one "right" way.
The most obvious difference here is a
purely physical one. The "cam-
pus," as Americans know it-a tightly
grouped, centrally located array of old
brick buildings-is practically
unknown here. The University of
Freiburg has had to deal with the.fact
that the university grew up around the
city and not vice-versa, unlike the
situation in Ann Arbor. The campus, if
one can call it that, is spread all over
the city. To go from one class to another
can quite easily involve a 10-15 minute
bike ride.
Most people who have passed though
the U-M system have lived at one time
or another in one of those under-
classperson storage bins, or "residence

halls" as they're referred to by the
University. "Die Studentenwohnheim,"
the German form of dormitory, is har-
dly comparable to an East Quad or a
Markley. Double and triple rooms are
virtually unkown here. Most students
live in singles. In my dorm there are 12
singles to a floor. Each floor has its own
facilities, including a kitchen and
dining/living room.
THE DORM cafeteria as Americans
know it is not found in the German
dorm. We cook for ourselves in our
small-but-adequate kitchens. If we
crave cafeteria food, we eat at the Men-
sa, the university-owned chowhall in
town.
The main dorm in Freiburg, "die
Studentensiedlung," is almost two
miles from the university. A trip to the
university lasts all day. Unlike in
Ann Arbor, walking home for an hour
break between classes just doesn't
work.
The organizational and social dif-
ferences can be, just as striking as the
physical ones. For example, a
professor from the U-M would be
aghast at the conduct in the average
lecture hall in Germany. Students in
lecture, expecially in the larger lecture
halls, talk freely throughout the period,
disregarding the lecturer. People come
and go during the lecture, making no
attempt to go out of their way to be
quiet.
IN MOST cases, a German professor
in undaunted by such behavior. In fact,

By Mark Ryan

many professors never lift their heads
for any reason, but rather read off a
manuscript the entire hour.
Under the German system the
students are left to fend for themselves
much more than in the States. A
Michigander might be at a loss here, as
I was at first, due to the lack of such
things as a required reading list. There
aren't even required books. The
professor will usually recommend a
few books during the first lecture in
case anyone wants to read up on the
material.
Not only are there no reading lists,
but there are no grades for most
classes. "Klausuren," as the Germans
call them, or exams, as they are known
to us, are rare here. It may be hard to
imagine life without a midterm, but it
does e*ist. The students here are tested
after two and four years to determine if
they can advance to the upper class or
graduate level.
SOME STUDENTS in Freiburg
rarely go to lectures. The skipping is
not taken seriously by either students
or faculty. Many students feel they can
achieve what they need without the lec-
tures.
The U of Freiburg has its own version
of CRISP, called "das Schwar-
tzebrett." This is a bulletin board, or
sometimes a table, outside the respec-

tive department, with a schedule of
what's offered, when it starts (not
many classes start in the first week of
the semester) and a sign-up list. Once
the list is signed, you are "registered"
for the class.
Moreover, this "complicated"
process is mainly for the seminars and
labs. Lectures have no registration
restrictions and are limited only by the
number of people the lecture hall will
hold (sitting, standing, or hanging from
the walls ).
THE PROCESS of scheduling is
mainly bureaucratic. Students have a
list similar to what we get at the U-M as
freshpersons. This list recommends
courses which should be taken to pass
the test for their degrees. At the begin-
ning of the semester, students see
what's offered, match it with what they
need, and everything is set. A week
before the start of the fall semester
most of my German friends didn't even
know what they would be taking that
semester. They hadn't thought about it
yet.
Want to go to the library to study?
Good luck. If you are lucky enough to
find a spot in the library quiet enough to
study, you will have to hurry, because
the library closes at 8 p.m. And the
stacks are closed, so if you want a book
you must look it up in the catalogue,

place an order for it, and then come
back 2-3 hours later to pick it up.
That's at the main library. The
divisional libraries are for reference
only. Any research done with the
biology library materials here, for
example, gets done in the biology
library._
I have a student ID here. I rarely use
it, though. I never even carry it with me
because; being the size of a birthday
card, it's a burden to.carry. I have no
ID number as we know it at Michigan
and find that it's nice being referred to
by my name, and not 451-27-8 ...
IF I'VE SEEMED rather cynical,
that's because I am. I'm cynical and
critical of U-M because I now realize
that there are better ways of doing
things.
There are two ways this essay could
be interpreted. One is that the German
system is unstructured, archaic, and
inefficient. This opinion, I must admit, I
held when I first came to Freiburg. The
other is that it is a much more personal,
a self-motivated system with less
pressure to perform and a much higher
emphasis on learning. Good arguments
can be made for both.
But despite its shortcomings, I per-
sonally prefer the U-M to Freiburg. I
feel that I accomplish more at
Michigan through hard work (a result
of the high academic pressure) and an
accelerated pace in the classroom. For

me, this is much more satisfying.
HOWEVER, AT the same time, I feel
there are things to be learned from
other systems, such as the Germans'.
The German students seem to have
much higher self-motivation factor.
They aren't forced to do everything
with the threat of a test. This, I feel,
plays a substantial role in the
professional life of the graduated
student.
{ The students here also seem much
more eager to learn than at Michigan.
At U-M, students have the attitude that
"if it's not going to be on the test, don't
teach it to us." Here students show up
regularly for seminars to listen to theln
fellow students' presentations, while
receiving a, grade only for their in;
dividual presentations. What is presenw
ted in class will not show up on a test. :
I have tried neither to glorify the
Germans, nor to ridicule them. I simply
wanted to contrast the two educational
systems in such a way that one would
take note of their individual differen-
ces-differences which may lead us to a
better understanding of our own
system. To say I prefer the U.S. system
does not mean it is either without fault
or that it cannot be improved upon.
Mark Ryan is a University student
spending this year in the Junior
Year A broad program.

!\Jiin (' E '(l rs (If EIiIOri( itl Fre( m (10111
Vol. XC, No. 152 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
MSA politics will live on

Feiffer
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T IS UNFORTUNATE that the stu-
dents of this University have
decided to maintain partisan politics in
their student government for yet
another year. By electing the Peoples
Action Coalition/Black Student Union
ticket of Marc Breakstone and Virna
Hobbs to the top spots in the Michigan
Student Assembly (MSA), the voters
indicated they are satisfied with the
directions MSA has been taking this
past year.
We take this opportunity to wish the
newly-elected president and vice-
president luck as they assume the
reins of a student government that has
done little for students in recent mon-
A boycott a
W HEN PRESIDENT Carter an-
nounced his plans to boycott the
1980 Moscow Olympics, it was not clear
just how far he intended to pursue his
goals. He might have left it at strongly
imploring the United -States Olympic
Committee and the individual athletes
not to go..
Failing that, the president might
honorably have put his boycott plan to
sleep. Doing so would have been
perfectly in tune with other half-
hearted foreign policy measures, but
unlike the waning of his toughness on
Cuba and Iran, discontinuing the push
for a boycott would unequivocably
have been a good idea..
Instead, Carter has been conniving

ths. And we once again express the
hope that MSA will transform into a
grassroots, student service-oriented
organization, and will not be rendered
impotent by party squabbling.
Breakstone seems to have the right
idea on some issues. He worked on the
course evaluation project currently
being conducted at CRISP.
Yet, he has also said he favors MSA
emphasis on issues such ,s student in-
volvement in the tenure process and-
student participation on college
executive committees. These are
issues that, while requiring attention
are not the grassroots problems that
affect students on a day-to-day basis.
t what price?
in every way to keep the U.S. out of the
SOlympics. He is considering revoking
the athletes' passports, as well as
various other moves to hinder their
travel to Moscow.'
Carter also recently prohibited
transactions with the Russians in
connection with the Games. The move
severely affects NBC's preparation to
televise the event, and raises serious
constitutional questions; the order
amounts to nothing less than indirect
censorship.
Though most Americans favor the
boycott, perhaps they will object to
Carter's methods-restriction of travel
and trade are attacks on some very
basic liberties.
r
i ;/

\

SM

V

Some people think that corporate power has
been tamed; that state and federal laws,
"countervailing" forces like labor and
"shareholder democracy," have curbed cor-
porate abuses. If you think they're right, con-
sider the following:
" Last year more than 100,000 people died.
from cancer they got on the job, in the air, and
in their food. Yet big business has launched a
propaganda war to undermine the Oc-
cupational Health and Safety Administration
(OSHA), the Clean Air Act, and pure food
laws;
+ While prices jumped 13 per cent last year,
take-home pay for workers rose less than 9
per cent. Yet big business spent almost $500
million for professional union busters to cut
wages even more;
" In the past few years there has been an
explosion of corporate crime-from 400 com-
panies admitting payoffs to hundreds of
chemical timebombs like Love Canal.Yet big
business opposes new criminal sanctions as
''over deterrence.,,
* In 1978, big business spent more than $20
million to elect their friends to Congress. In
1980, they plan to double that political action
spending; and,
* From 1975 to 1978, giant conglomerates
increased three-fold the number of small
businesses they gobbled up. Yet big business
opposes new antitrust laws as violations of the
"free market."
TO UNDERSTAND fully the influence and
power big businesshas inAmerica rwe must
also consider where our next meal, our next
tank of gas, and our jobs will be coming from.
The food farmers sell wholesale is
marketed by a few large processors. Coast to
coast, supermarkets sell the same few com-
panies many brands. Most tractors,
chemicals, farm implements, and veterinary
medicines come from economically-
concentrated suppliers. Two companies, for
example, supply more than half the seed for
68 million acres of corn in the United States.
Consider the fact that supermarkets have
boosted their profits by 28 per cent in the last
year.
The Seven Sisters-Exxon, Shell, Mobii,
British Petroleum, Standard Oil of California,
Gulf, and Texaco-account for 38 per cent of

A look
atBig
19
Business
By Rob Leighton
all the oil moved in the world. Their holdings
in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and the North
Sea will probably increase this share.
ALL THESE companies are vertically in-
tegrated. They control the flow of oil from the
wells through the pipelines into the refineries,
and finally into your car.
Aware they are dealing in an exhaustible
resource, the Seven Sisters have diversified.
They now own more coal than the companies
that specialize in coal mining. Gulf Oil recen-
tly pleaded no contest when charged with a
uranium price-fixing scheme that drove the
cost of uranium up from $6 to $40 a pound.
Mobil and Shell lead the way in non-energy-
oriented diversification. Mobil now controls
Montgomery Ward and the Container Cor-
poration of America. Shell produced and sold
enough aluminum, copper, nickel, and zinc to
put it on the Fortune 500 list without its energy
holdings.
Imagine driving to work one morning-a
drive that you have taken for the last twenty
years. When you arrive you find the company
has permanently shut down its operations. If
it sounds bizarre, reconsider. It is happening
all over this country. In Michigan alone
200,000 jobs were lost owing to 4,000 plant
closings between 1967 and 1973. More often
than not, the employees were given short
notice-too short to find another job-and
inadequate severance pay.
AND TODAY, we find hundreds of thousan-
ds of auto workers unemployed. The

American worker is no less productive than
the German or Japanese worker. Foreign
cars have grabbed a large share of the
American market because the American auto
makers failed to produce a fuel efficient small
car quickly enough. The reason: the produc-
tion of large cars yielded greater profits.
We live in a nation which holds to heart the
spirit of democracy. Yet we find that cor
porations, despite their power to affect ouze
lives, are not accountable to the American
people.
The corporate criminal has little to fear if
caught committing an illegal act in the in-
terest of his company. Penalties are mild,
with suspended sentences and small fines tle
rule. More often than not, a company caught
in a crooked deal is often allowed to do what it
denies having done in the first place.
When corporations are prosecuted in a
manner similar to the way you or I might be i
we broke a law, they funnel huge sums Of
money, far exceeding funds a public
prosecutor could justify, towards their defen-
se. Examples of this lie with anti-trust suits,
and more recently with the Ford Pint'o
criminal negligence suit.
CORPORATIONS state, "If you don't like
what we are doing, don't buy our product. 1
But let's be realistic. Big Business has its
fingerprints on close to everything we buy.
Boycotting products would mean returning to
the Middle Ages.
Threatened by the influence, abuses, unad-
countability of big business, numerous con-
sumer, religious, and labor organizations,
and environmentalist and women's and
minority groups have joined together to pose
a true countervailing force to big business.
This coalition will be inaugurated on April 17,
Big Business Day.
Although the thrust of Big Business Day s
to protest corporate abuses of power, it marks
the beginning of a joint effort to make bi4
business accountable to us, the American
people. Only when it is accountable will big
businesses comply with the laws and
regulations enacted in the public interest,
and only then can corporate profits begin to
be scaled with the needs of people.
Rob Leighton is co-coordinator of Big
Business Day/Ann Arbor.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
PIR GIM schedules energy conference

To the Daily:
What about nuclear power?
Everyone seems to have an
opinion-build more plants, close
existing ones. The use of nuclear
power has created one of the
biggest moral, economic, social,

worrying about the election, and
the state government is too busy
with "important" things and keeps
putting legislation into special
committees to "study" the
problem.
We could start right here in

Michigan Union from 9:00 a.m.-
5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, and
1:00-5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 13.
The Conference will feature a
series of workshops involving
solar-active and passive systems,
photovoltaics, wind energy,

native energy businesses, anai
spokespersons from public aiti
governmental offices.
It is important that the con-
munity learn about the viability
of alternative energy sources and
participate in the Ann Arbor City

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