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April 15, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-04-15

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Page 4-Tuesday, April 15, 1980-The Michigan Daily
Views on the domestication of Women's Studies

The University of Michigan was a national
trendsetter in establishing a program of
women's studies in the early 1970s. Recent
decisions by the College of Literature, Science
and the Arts, however, might also make the
University a national trendsetter in disman-
tling academic programs for the study of
women's status in our society.
The College recently announced a new policy
prohibiting graduate teaching assistants from
teaching upper-level courses. Dean Billy Frye has
said that this policy will apply to the Women's
Studies Program as of the end of the next
academic year.
AS A YOUNG and growing field of academic
inquiry, Women's Studies necessarily relies on
the teaching and research of graduate studen-
ts. The college's new policy would essentially
eliminate an exciting innovation in contem-
porary schojarship and significantly reduce
the breadth of educational opportunities
availae to University students. The College
has thus threatened academic freedom; its
new policies raise the specter of repression
within the University community.
The Women's Studies Program underwent a
standard academic review in the fall of 1979.
The review testified to the program's distin-
ction, and in fact declared that the graduate'
student teaching assistants are "of the highest
quality," "have a sincere and significant in-
terest in the field," and devote "time and in-
terest perhaps unmatched elsewhere in the
University."
The review nonetheless suggests that the 300-
level courses taught by TAs are dispensable,
that the programs should change over to
faculty-taught courses, and that graduate
students should be shifted to administrative
duties around the program's publication series,
Occasional Papers in Women's Studies, to
upgrade the program's contribution to resear-
ch. The review also suggested that Women's
Studies might be relegated to the status of a
"minor" rather than a "major."
HAVING FACULTY teach courses in

Women's Studies is fine, but we must remem-
ber that the program was created because the
long-established departments showed no in-
terest in addressing questions of women's
social roles, and it has been built on graduate
student participation because there were no
faculty members available to teach in the
program. The dearth of interested and com-
mitted scholars is a manifestation of the per-
vasive sexism of our society: the number of
women faculty in LSA departments is pitifull'
small, and the denial of tenure to vigorously
feminist scholars has convinced young
scholars that Women's Studies is not valued by
the University.
The College has indicated that the budget of

NOR SHOULD THERE be any objection to
enhancing research in the field of women's
studies. But the College's implicit distinction
between teaching and research, while
generally suspect, is profoundly false in this
field. Michelle Rosaldo, a noted authority in
the field who served as an external consultant
to the University's review committee, stated
that the graduate students in Women's Studies
"guaranteed its calibre as a truly innovative
field o fendeavor, wherein successful teaching
is immediately associated with new and
significant research." In addition, this "either-
or" choice between two essential elements of
the academic enterprise is not posed to any
other departmental unit.

'The College has threatened academic freedom.
its policies raise the spectre of repression within
the University community. '

systems": the ways that societies determine
behavior on all levels-from the most private
to the most public-according to sex. In this
endeavor, Women's Studies takes within its
purview methods developed by history,
literature; sociology, economics, art history,
and psychology, among others, but cannot be
subsumed by any of them individually.
AGAIN, MICHELLE Rosaldo wrote,
"Although I feel that Women's Studies
can-and probably should-maintain strong
ties with traditional disciplines, it seems to me
that the 'new scholarship' has developed in
ways that will be lost if we return to 'women in
history,' 'women in sociology,' and so. on.
Historians interested in women (and students
interested in women's history) have benefitted
(and will continue to benefit from) the record
of questions and investigations proper to
Women's Studies as a field apart."
To develop and enrich the field of women's
studies, it is essential to maintain an
autonomous center which will facilitate com-
munication among young scholars at all levels:
undergraduate, graduate, and faculty.. Subjec-
tion to the interests of older disciplines would
only inhibit growth.
This point has a significance beyond the im-
mediate question of Michigan's Women's
Studies Program. Frye has said that "the
needs of the departments (rather than those of
non-departmental programs) must be the final
priority." But because the departments cannot
easily overcome the inertia of longstanding
disciplinary traditions, intellectual innovations
will more likely appear in interdepartmental
crevices.
FURTHERMORE, graduate students are
more likely to be in touch with emerging social
tendencies than are established faculty. Sup-
pression of interdisciplinary programs and of
graduate student teaching and research means
the suppression of new experiments in intellec-.

tual activity; it means academic stagnation.
Thus, the maintenance of the Women's
Studies Program is not merely an issue for the
undergraduate and graduate students curren-
tly engaged in it; indeed, everyone needs
Women's Studies. It has fertilized social anc
historical thought throughout the American
academy in recent years. It has opened broad
new avenues of study to undergraduates. And,
as practised here at Michigan and elsewhere, it
has : offered students students a rare oppor-
tunity to help shape their own education in a
serious and intellectually §timulating way.
Any diminution of the Women's Studies.
Program at Michigan would constitute a
profound injustice to students and to the
academic endeavor as a whole. The needs of
Women's Studies cited by the review commit-
tee-the need for more faculty involvement,
the need for research development-Call for
the commitment of more resources. It is not in-
cumbent upon the Women's 'Studies Program
to change its orientation toward the established
departments; rather, the departments musti
show in practice a willingness and dedication to
engage in a serious discussion of scholarly
issues related to women's status in our
society-past, present, and future. The
Women's Studies Program should be main-
tained and indeed, expanded and enhanced.
All persons who support the Women's Studies
Program should attend and take part in the
Save the Women's Studies Rally tomorrow on
the Diag. Also, the Committee on Academic
Freedom, which has been organized to combat
the denial of tenure to dissident or unconven-
tional teachers and to protect threatened but
innovative courses of study, meets each Friday
at 4 p.m., at Guild House.
This article was written by Howara@
Brick, Heidi Gottfried, and Julie Green,
members of the Committee on Academic
Freedom.

the Women's Studies Program will not be in-
creased. At the same time, the College has
recommended reallocating teaching assistan-
ts' pay to new participating faculty. Since
faculty salaries naturally are much higher
than TA salaries, the reallocation of teaching
money to pay for faculty-taught courses
would provide for fewer than half of the
program's current course offerings.
But it is doubtful that even a small number of
new participating faculty could be found. The
inbred . bias of the other departments-for
which the Women's Studies Program was in-
tended to compensate-will not disappear
within a year, despite the ftine words of the
college executive committee. Rather, with the
elimination of TA teaching and in the absence
of replacement faculty, the Women's Studies
Program will disappear.

Finally, the review committee suggested the
goal of a restructured Women's Studies
Program would be to assist established depar-
tments in upgrading the study ofwomen on the
departments' own terms; in line with this,
"Women's Studies" as such would constitute
only a "minor" for undergraduates, attached
to a departmental "major." Such a revision
would rob the Women's Studies Program of its
autonomy, converting it into a handmaiden to
the conventional disciplines. Might not the
prevailing sexism of our society be reinforced
by treating the Women's Studies Program as a
subordinate field?
Women's Studies has become more than
merely "the study of women" in terms of con-
ventional methods. It has developed a unique
method; it asks its own questions. Women's
Studies has begun the investigation of "gender

____________________________________________ t

NiielYYers of IAdiIorial FreedIom1

Feiffer

NU

.I

Vol. XC, No. 155

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Wrong road to Palestine

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OF HER FAMILY'

THERE HAVE been four declared
wars over Israel's 32 years of.
existence, butthe bloodshed and gun-
fire between the Jewish state and its
Arab neighbors have never really
stopped. The latest round in the war of
attrition began last Monday, when a
murderous band of five guerrillas crept
through the U.N.-patrolled area in the
south of Lebanon and stormed Misgav
Am, an Israeli kibbutz a few miles
from the border. Three Israelis, in-
cluding a two-and-a-half-year-old boy,
were killed in the subsequent gunfire.
The terrorists perished as well.
The five terrorists were each from a
different country-to show the inter-
national character of the effort, the
Palestinian leadership said. It is not
the first time various nations have put
aside their differences to form a
slaughterous alliance, and sadly, it
will probably not be the last.
Two days after the gunfire had died
down at Misgav Am, 350 Israeli

soldiers moved into Lebanon with
tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Their objective was to flush out
guerrillas based 'in the area that the
U.N. peacekeeping troops had failed to
restrain.
While the Israeli incursion is a
technical violation of Lebanon's
sovereignty, Israel had no choice but to
move into Lebanon. The peacekeeping
troops simply were not doing their job.
Israel's initiative was surprisingly
moderate; Israeli troops stayed in
Lebanon only as long as was needed to
bolster the natiop's security, and left
yesterday.
The Palestinian nation claims the
right to statehood for itself, and its
desire may be justified. But Israel
ought not be compelled to bend to the
Arabs' bloody methodsof persuasion;
if Palestinian statehood ever comes, it
will come through civilized
negotiation. The burden of proof is on
the Palestinians to show themselves
worthy to join the family of nations.

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C'" PON, goss--
L ET'S TELL TUE FOLKS
HOW MuCh WE HATE
PUPPET GOVERNMENTS !

The LSA Executice tommittee
is the-most powerful group in the
College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts. Decisions on per-
sonnel, curriculum, finances, and
other matters are all made by
this one body. These decisions
have an immediate and powerful
impact on students, faculty, and
other members of the University
community. Yet, despite the
profound importance of the
committee, it is neither an-
swerable to the people it serves
nor does it necessarily operate in
consideration of their interests.
The Executive Committee is
composed of six faculty members
and the dean of the college, Billy
Frye (soon to become academic
vice-president of the University).
The college's assistant deans are
also included in the Executive
Committee meetings.
THE SIX professors who sit on
the committee are elected by
LSA's governing faculty. They
are, technically speaking, "not
representative" of their
colleagues on the faculty,raccor-
ding to Dean Frye. Rather, they
are "given confidence" by the
faculty to vote as they see fit.
NOT ONLY does the structure
of the committee prevent studen-
ts and general faculty from
voting, but the meetings are
closed to both groups. Further-
more, the minutes of the
meetings, the agendas, and even
some of the decisions reached are
withheld from students, the
press, and the public. Decisions
of widespread importance are
merely handed down, sometimes
without explanation even to those
most immediately affected by the
issues. Students are kept vir-
tually in the dark.
Of course, the Executive
Committee does try to be fair and
prudent in its decisions. But there

P owerful
committee is
too secretive

established by the Regents
recommended student par-
ticipation on college executive
committees, the LSA Executive
Committee issued this response:
"... in matters of duty, fun-
ction, preparation, appointment,
responsibility, and authority,
faculty membersandstudents
occupy very different roles.
Respectfully, therefore, we
reject the principle that enrolled
students have, by virtue of their
enrollment, a right to voting par-

meetings, or, often, see the agen-
das.
There must be a rationale
behind the exclusion from
Executive Committee meetings.
of all students and most faculty
members. One reason is that the
primary objective of the commit-
tee is quality control, and that
only the most experienced,
qualified faculty members should
be entrusted with this important
task.
WHILE IT IS true that impor-

argument concerns the
Executive Committee's person-
nel decisions. Much of the
discussion in the meetings con-
tains frank assessments of in-
dividual faculty members.
Because . the candor of these
discussions might be impaired,
the argument goes, the meeting
should be kept secret, as is nos
the case. The Executive Commit-
tee's concern here for the
reputation and privacy of faculty
members is to be applauded.
However, thetobjection is not
substantial enough to warrant
totally closed meetings. All
faculty members go through a
detailed and public examination
at many levels before being
hired.While working at thg
University, the faculty member
are again evaluated byboth
students and other faculty mem-
bers. Their research and class
work are the frequent subjects of
both formal and informal
discussion. When the executive
committee makes a tenure
decision, there is no reason for
sudden secrecy.
It is clear that both the student
and the faculty have been un
fairly denied access to and par-
ticipation in the decisions of the
College at the executive level.
This has been to the detriment of
the entire College. It is time to
consider changes in the structure
of the committee that would
make it more responsive and
more open to criticism, praise,
counsel, and suggestion.
Specifically, we recommend that
the Executive Committee begiA
immediately to publish its
minutes and agendas, while
deliberating on the best plan to
allow student and faculty par-
ticipation. It is my hope that
discussion of the alternatives
open to us will lead to a better
LSA Executive Committee, and
to a better college.

LSA-SG Forum

ticipation in the conduct of college
and department business."
The LSA Executive Committee
should be commended for
discovering all those differences
between the two groups. There
are indeed distinctions that
should be taken into con-
sideration when apportioning
power. Let us look at those dif-
ferences and see just what effect
they should have on the "conduct
of College and Department
business."
THE FIRST difference concer-
ns duty and function, At the risk
of oversimplification, one might

tant tasks ought to be given to the
most able, it is also true that
those represented should be able
to watch, counsel, and judge the
performance of their selected
decision-makers. Right now,
neither faculty nor students can
watch, let alone counsel.
Another argument against
student participation disparages
the validity of students judging
faculty performance. Some feel
that faculty members might be
intimidated by the presence of
students in the decision-making
process. But our faculty is of such
a caliber that it should not fear
the evaluations of students. In-

i I AO m

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