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March 24, 1981 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-03-24

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OPINION
Page 4 Tuesday, March 24, 1981 The Michigan Daily

Why are blacks so unhappy

here?

It was merely a curiosity to me during my
first year at the University in Markley Hall.
The black students had their own lounge,
scheduled their own parties, and ate at their own
tables. Strange, I thought, that they should
want to separate themselves so completely
from their white peers.
But that curiosity soon changed to concern as

?5
W1tt1C1iSs
By Howard Witt

decades, with race riots predicted in major
cities this summer, I am downright scared.
Now more than ever there is an urgent need
for black-white communication here at the
University. So far, we have been spared the
ugly racial incidents that have disrupted other
universities across the country. But with all the
mystery and misunderstanding and mistrust
that appears to abound here, we may not be
immune for long.
Something is clearly wrong. Black students
don't want to come to The University of
Michigan; those that are here are frustrated
and angry. But why?
I HAD GREAT hopes for an answer last
Thursday afternoon, when Valerie Mims, a
prominent black student leader, addressed the
Regents. Commenting on the dismal black
enrollment report, Mims had an ideal opportunity
to really explain to the Regents the problems of
black students here. She could have provided
some true insight into why black enrollment
has been steadily dropping. She could have
turned some heads.
But she didn't. Instead, she spoke in
generalities. She said she has warned her high
school-age sister about how bad it is for blacks
here, but she gave no specifics. Shedemanded

that the Regents do something, but suggested
no solutions.r
The Regents politely thanked her for her
comments, looked properly concerned-and
didn't have the slightest idea what Valerie
Mims mneant.
y THIS IS HARDLY a new problem. Since the
Black Action Movement strike in 1970, Univer-
sity administrators have been earnestly trying
to attract and retain black students. They have
redoubled their efforts in recent years only to
see black enrollment drop to a mere 5.6 per-
cent.
I don't know why black students are unhappy
here. But I suspect the separatism that blacks
themselves encourage is somehow tied to their
dissatisfaction. And the lack of communication
between the races that results from this
separation only exacerbates the tension.
That is why I hoped that Valerie Mims would
talk about the problems of black students and
answer some of my many unspoken questions.
WHY, FOR INSTANCE, is there only one
black student working at the Daily? Out of
1,137 black undergraduates, there must be a
few interested in writing for a daily newspaper.
I can't believe it's because we're racist -if
that is a common perception, I am deeply con-
cerned.

Maybe blacks are not comfortable when they
first come into the all-white city room of the
Daily. That would certainly be understan-
dable; I can imagine the courage I would need
to walk into a meeting at Trotter House,
however irrational my fears might be.
Or maybe it's something else - something
that has little to do with whites at all.
TWO YEARS AGO, a former Daily editor
(who at that time was the only black on the
staff) wrote a very personal, very probing
analysis of the separatism problem. He- ex-
plained that black students feel it is necessary
to separate themselves almost completely
from whites in order to maintain their identity.
Participation in a "white" activity (such as the
Daily) is considered assimilation, he observed;
blacks who associate extensively with whites
are shunned by their black peers.
I can't know if what this former editor wrote
is true. I only know that he was an outstanding
student and a perceptive journalist who rose to
the top of the "white" Daily hierarchy and
found himself shoved to the outer fringes of the
black society on campus.
CERTAINLY THIS fear of assimilation, if it
exists at all, is plausible - any group of studen-
ts that finds itself in the minority will naturally
want to retain its cultural cohesion and iden-

tification.
It is also quite plausible that this cohesion
could easily degenerate into a destructive men-
tality in which succeeding in activities of the
majority is interpreted as abandonment of the
group. Unfortunately, this attitude ignores the
historical evidence of dozens of ethnic groups,
whose members succeeded in cultural worlds
other than their own yet still retained their
ethnic identities.
I know I'm way out of my league now, trying
to theorize about black social structures. But if
you think I'm confused, just imagine the con-
sternation of University administrators, who
see their best minority recruitment efforts fail
year after year. And the frustration of Univer-
sity professors, who see an alarmingly high
number of black students failing to earn
degrees. And the bafflement of white students,
who see their overtures of friendship and
assistance frequently rebuffed.
The blacks on this campus need some an-
swers. And so do the whites.

I discovered that this voluntary separatism
spread far beyond the walls of my dorm. There
were two separate fraternity systems, I lear-
ned.'And separate counseling offices. And even
a separate monthly newspaper..
TODAY I AM more than concerned. With the
latest minority enrollment report showing yet
another decline in black students on campus,
with Ronald Reagan promising to reverse
social and civil rights progress of recent

Howard Witt is a Daily staff writer..
column appears every 'uesday.

Hs

0

a II

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan '

Vol. XCI, No. 140

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Weasel
HEYG. I. IoE, TSAW YoU
rrim (. Al THEFaNM INIs.
WHAT ARE You i~rbNtN wo mtaosE
GCANS of PoP a"n S.f4" Bas.

YOU CAN
L-AUG44 NOW
IF YOUW Nr
WEA$Ej., Bur 'ouLJ
PIEARN t )oR.FoR Foot/
FOR. WHAT ? WHFEN iTHE
04, zCJr ! LT E.Ly roNt
'1O'.E.ONE of COt'%ES.
ThOSE "S0VIVALIrTS;'
ARENtdYou?
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7flE {~SOD 5i'PiN Is (O~*4A fNUT!
71IEoUtA . WItL.BE i NO-4HLES
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F' AM~46 N $OT ? E i-y aui~

Coordinating the cuts

by Robert Lence

-..,
TEt-t- ME 5oME7t tN6...
.:.TINS "ToTPr4 CUL.LftPSE
RM xt N SOCtLs7 1, ". ,
YOCY TFF(NK T}}E12E.5 ANY
u }AMCE IT MIC ttT NAt EN
C3EFORE- F(N A L
cart5--w--E- t ?
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t
o a
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i

ICHIGAN COLLEGE students
..could awaken one day soon and
find no schools offering nursing.
programs and a dozen offering law
studies. Or no schools offering law
programs and a dozen with nursing
curricula..
The state's system of higher
edudcefion is-so decentralized that-vir-
tbiily anything car happen as frenzied
administrators at Michigan's 14 public
colleges and universities lop entire
programs to save money. And ode
hand in East Lansing or Houghton
neither knows nor cares what the other
in Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo is doing.
The problem is that the . state's
colleges are not accountable to any
single. authority; each has its own
governing board to set policy, make
curriculum decisions, and spend
money as it sees fit.
Further, each college has its own,
loyal supporters in the legislature, who
divide up scarce funds with more con-
cern for politics than pragmatics.
In times of, economic bounty, this
decentralization at worst resulted in
inconsistent distribution of state funds
and an unplanned proliferation of
courses and programs. In times of
crisis, the lack of a central planning
body will mean the slow dismember-
ment of Michigan's body of higher
education, as each school begins am-
putating parts without any regard for
the whole.
This disfiguring process has already
begun. At Michigan State University,
officials are contemplating- the
wholesale elimination of several entire
fields of study, yet there has been little

concern evidenced for how such
program cuts will affect the balance of
Michigan eduation overall.
If MSU cuts its nursing program, for,
instance, a devastating shortage of
nurses is threatened.
It is clear, then, that the state must
somehow step in to assure that the
inevitable cutbacks are coordinated.
Neither the legislature nbr the state
board of education, however, is well-
suited to this oversight process - the
one is far too political and the other too
inexperienced in the problems of
higher education.
Indeed, the establishment of any
central planning body would have to be
approached with great caution. The
autonomy granted each of the state's
colleges, while it results in fractured
planning, does preserve essential
academic freedoms and allows each
institution to develop along its own
course.
Perhaps, then, a consortium of ad--
ministrators from all Michgian
colleges and universities, along 'with
selected legislators from education
committees, could be formed. This
body, while not necessarily possessing
any veto powers, could at least serve
the essential function of opening a
dialogue between administrators. No
longer could MSU decide in a vacuum
that it will cut its nursing program or
add a new law school.
Formation of such a central planning
group is the very least state officials
must do to preserve higher education
in Michigan. To allow the 14 colleges to
hack away at themselves without
supervision is very bad medicine.

0

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

More Daily editorial confusion

,. ...

To the Daily:
Over the last two weeks you
have focused three editorials and
immeasurable column space on
the refusable/refundable funding
method proposed by the Public
Interest Research Group in
Michigan. I would venture to say
that this inordinate amount of

coverage is greater than the
cumulative total of caverage
PIRGIM has received from the
Daily all year.
For the time being, I will ab-
stain from criticizing the position
of .your editorial staff, and in-
stead highlight the contradictions
of your statements.

MSU nursing despair

To the Daily:
The Michigan State University
College of Nursing would like to
express its thanks to the group of
University of Michigan nursing
students who came to East Lan-
sing March 13 to participate in
our rally opposing the proposed
elimination of the MSU College of
Nursing.
Your presence helped to make
our march a real success, and
your support is truly appreciated.
We would also like to thank the
University of Michigan nursing

faculty and students who have
written to the MSU ad-
ministration and to state
legislators in support of our
program.
Your efforts have boosted our,
fast-fading morale, and are very
much appreciated. Voting on this
issue will not occur until March
27, so please keep up the good
work. Thanks again.
-Sue Westrick
East Lansing
March 16

In the March 22 editorial, you
admonish PIRGIM to "boost [its]
sagging support among students
by promoting a greater
awareness on campus of [its]
purpose and goals."
I can think of no better method
for information sharing than
going straight to the students as
PIRGIM did two weeks ago. In
just three days they collected in
excess of 7,200 student signatures
supporting the organization and
its drive for the stronger
refusable-refundable funding
system.
While you so smuggly stated
that signatures are only a level
above worthless, (on your merit
scale), can you deny that
PIRGIM's support at CRISP
went upr5 percent over the past
semester; clearly making them
the largest organization on cam-
pus, with over 8,000 dues-paying
members?
These are studentssupporting
PIRGIM with their hard earned
money-the strongest possible
indication of support (and sup-
porting them through a tenuous
system-CRISP).
Clearly, the students who
morally support PIRGIM are far
greater in number than those who
can-in a time of rising tuition
rates-financially afford to do so.

Finally, your assertion that
PIRGIM should reserve it'd
energies to non-controversial,
issues such as the "...bottle bill-
truth in lending and fair
housing.. . " is laudable only in
its absurdity. T don't recall th$
Bottle ' Bill as being non;
controversial, nor does Coca
Cola, or Stroh's who spent over a
millioi dollars a piece fighting
PII GIM's efforts on that issue.
Few if any issues bear the title
of non-controversial. When
PIRGIM's research leads to the
conslusion that nuclear ,power is
unsafe or that the draft is a clear
threat to civil liberties, should
they sit back and wait until the
issue becomes non-controversial
or should they lead. the way as
they have so many times for a
safer and better com-
munity-even at the risk of upset-
ting the Daily's editorial board?
The answer is clear: PIRGIM
must continue to work pn the
projects that the students choose
to research and act on. When the$
can spend more time on projects
and less time at CRISP (over five
months a year) maybe then, with
a little cooperation from the
Daily, their publicity will im-
prove.
Marc Breakstone
March 23

Much-needed evaluations

To the Daily:
The Michigan Student Assem-
bly Course Evaluations can be an
important tool in student course
selection. The LSA Course Guide,
which gives instructor's descrip-
tion, is valuable yet one-sided
Opinions regarding difficulty,
amount of work and grading.
procedure provide a sup-
plementary idea of what to ex-
pect. In addition, published and
distributed evaluations give a
feedback on instructors' perfor-
mance as viewed bystudents and
thereby act as an impetus for
revamping teaching methods and
approaches.
Students at the University have
shown enthusiasm fQr the
benefits they can receive from
the availability of MSA's "Course
Encounters" yet at present there
is a noticable lack of both
student participation and input.
MSA evaluates only LSA courses
and there is a ratio of one com-
mittee member for every sixteen

would be a crime for the project
to stagnate for lack of en-
student participation.
Furthermore, the opportunity
to work on the Course
Evaluations Committee is a
rewarding experience for anyone
who wants to contribute to the
quality of education at the
University. The work involved to
put 8,000 copies of Course En-
counters requires creative'input
into question contenit and format
as well as work in advertising,
publicity, computer program-
ming and research.
All students have a right to
know what to expect from cour-
ses and instructors, and the MSA
evaluation systems is presently
the only means of compiling all
the College of LSA department
evaluations into one comprehen-
sive guide.
We wish to add other schools
and colleges to our evaluation
process and if Course Encoun-
n . i to rnu r ..rn nh m rn o

Harvey strikes again!

To the Daily:
Well, Dennis Harvey strikes
again: Five for five. He keeps up
his perfect record of giving each
movie he sees a terrible rating.
Do you like movies at all, Mr.
Harvey? Do you think your
cynical adjectives and analyses
make you a good critic? Or are
you just always in a shitty mood?
Try going to a good movie, and
writing something favorable for
a change. You might even like it.

With all the excellent movies
playing in and around Ann Arbor,
you'd think you could come up
with something better than the
gibberish we've been subjected
to.
It's hard to tell whether you know
anything at all about movies, or if
they are just a tool for you to use
to polish up your bitipg,
meaningless adjectives. x
-Kevin Anderson'
March 5

Confused police priorities=

To the Daily:
It would seem that the Ann Ar-
bor Police have their priorities
confused when they can hunt
down and arrest three women for

women, much less men.
It is hoped that some lawyer
will donate her or his time to the
case, or barring that, some legal
defense fund can be set u- It

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