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April 16, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-04-16

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U

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, April 16, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Redirecting 80s

politics

Vol. XCI, No. 160

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Hope for student loans

I N THE MIDST of severe cutbacks
in federal financial aid to students,
the state Senate's approval Tuesday of
a loan program that will provide low
interest loans for college students
comes as a welcome relief. The
program, outlined in a bill sponsored
by Rep. Perry Bullard (D-Ann Arbor),
will allow college students from any
financial background to apply for a
federally financed loan of up to $3,000
as early as this summer.
President Reagan has proven that he
has very little interest in helping
students finance their educations. Pell
Grants (formerly BEOGs) have been

suspended and may be entirely
eliminated pending a thorough review,
and federally financed low interest
loans face a similar review.
More than 18,000 students at the
University receive federally financed
assistance in paying tuition bills. More
than 113,000 students statewide receive
similar loans. If Reagan succeeds in
axing these federal assistance
programs, many students' educations
will be in peril. Bullard's bill is a first
step toward countering this threat,
even if the federal funds that would
pay for the loans are in danger under
Reagan's budget ax.

" A group of low-income Detroiters meet
and decide that if the city and HUD won't turn
over abandoned homes to them for urban
homesteading, they'll organize city-wide
squatting to take over the properties.
" Blue-collar families confront a utility
company executive demanding relief from
gas bills that are higher than their mortgage
payments.
" Low-income and elderly neighbors unite
to fight an "urban renewal" project designed
to turn their neighborhood over to high-
income housing and leave them out in the
cold.
These are a few scenes from America in the
1980s - Not the 80s of the Reagans and
Stockmans, but the 80s of ACORN, the
Association of Community Organizations for
Reform Now.
There are many who would have us believe
the 1980 election marked the end of an era of
social progress in America. But, ACORN is
proving everyday that poor and working
Americans are not only fighting for economic
and social justice, but winning!
ACORN was founded in 1970 in Little Rock
Arkansas, by veterans of the civil rights, anti-
war, and poor peoples movements of the 60s.
With a keen sense of both the limitations of
those movementsand the changing economic
realities of the 70s, they set out to build a
multi-racial organization that could unite the
poor and working class in a common struggle
for economic justice.
From the first days when it existed in a
handful of Little Rock neighborhoods and
housing projects, ACORN has recognized that
the unequal distribution of power in the coun-
try was the heart of the problems. Those first
ACORN groups set out to win concrete im-
provements for the communities, from im-
proved housing and city services to stopping
construction of an interstate that would tear
the neighborhood apart. As ACORN grew
each victory helped build the organizations'
political power for bigger battles. If the
movement was to advance in the 70s, it would
not be as a quixotic crusade, but as a step by
step assault on powerful institutions that
denied the nation's low- and moderate-income
majority the power that is rightfully theirs.
In Arkansas, ACORN grew to become the
state-wide citizens' organization that could
take on corrupt politicians, faceless
bureaucracies and giant corporations - and
win. In 1975, ACORN added its second state,,,
South Dakota with other expansion following

0

A VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY organizer walks through a poor neighborhood in Richmond,
Va. in 1963. ACORN, another community organizing group, proposes a new strategy for ef-
fecting social change in the 1980s.

High seas hit and run

B Y NOW, the fragmented reports
BLj have been confirmed by the U.S.
Navy: Last week, while cruising off
the- southern tip of Japan, the
American nuclear submarine George
Washington accidentally rammed and
sank a small Japanese freighter, the
Nissho Maru. While the startled sailors
scrambled onto life rafts, they observed
the black conning tower of the sub
crack through the surface for a
moment. Overhead, an American
Orion plane, which'was accompanying
the George Washington, made a couple
of circles near the scene, according to
the sailors, who claimed they waved
frantically for help.
But, within a few'short morments, the
nuke-laden George Washington was
submerged once again into the deep
blue sea and the Orion was roaring off
into the wild blue yonder. Out of sight,
out of mind.
It was no less than 1 3ours before 13
sailors luckily caught the attention of
another freighter, and were brought to
safety. Their captain and a fellow
crewman were never found. And it was
no less than 36 hours before the Navy
formally notified the Japanese gover-
nment about the incident.
The collision itself was fairly under-,
standable. The seas were rough,
making sonar detection difficult. In
addition, because the submarine was
cruising near the surface, the warmer
water at that depth played havoc with
sonar, signals coming from the sur-
face.
The response from the Japanese
government has been surprisingly
restrained and conciliatory. "If the
U.S. will apologize in due course and be'
polite and offer compensation, I don't

think it will be any long term
problem," said Hisahiko Okazaki, a
senior Defense Ministry official. For
their part, President Reagan, Defense
Secretary Weinberger, and U.S. Am-
bassador Mansfield have given Tokyo
their regards, promised an in-
vestigation, and assured those in-
volved that compensation will be for-
thcoming. A formal apology has yet to
be extended.
While both governments seem eager
to dismiss this incident, a number of
important questions remain unan-
swered: Why was the submarine
cruising so near the surface, and in the
middle of a crowded sea lane? After
the collision, were the submarine
crewmembers aware that the freighter
was sinking? If so, why didn't they of-
fer assistance, or radio for help? Why
did the Orion circle and disappear?
Why did it take 36 hours for the U.S.
Navy to acknowledge its role?
With two Japanese sailors apparen-
tly drowned, one wonders whether the
George Washington's skipper, Cmdr.
Robert Woehl, should be held accoun-
table for his actions. If he indeed knew
how serious the collision was, which is
likely, his departure from the scene
amounted to a "hit and run," an offen-
se that usually puts automobile drivers
behind bars. If Woehl ordered his
vessel away from the wreckage
knowing that fellow sailors were foun-
dering in his wake, he is criminally
culpable and should be punished ac-
cordingly.
Neither the U.S. nor the Japanese
government should brush this unfor-
tunate incident under the rug until
these important questions have been
adequately answered..

soon. By 1980, ACORN had grown to more
than 700 neighborhood groups in 22 states with
more than 30,000 dues-paying members.
Today, with other progressive political for-
ces in dissary, ACORN has a solid grass-roots
membership base, an effective democratic
structure, and a battle-tested organizing
staff. Instead of taking cover in the political
center, ACORN's organizing in the year
ahead will take the offensive on key social and
economic issues :
" A national campaign against President
Reagan's budget cuts that are aimed at poor
and working class neighborhoods.
" Local campaigns against "gentrification"
and other attempts to destroy low-income
neighborhoods.
SA state-wide campaign in Michigan to win
tighter control of utility monopolies through
an elected Public Service Commission.
Liberals and some radicals may be dishear-
tened by the widely proclaimed shift to the
right represented by Reagan's November
victory and the Republican capture of the
Senate. ACORN organizers know that's only
half the picture. What is equally clear to,
anyone who spends an afternoon working in

an ACORN neighborhood is that the low- and
moderate-income majority of this country
does not support a corporate - agenda that
benefits an affluent minority at their expense.
They are ready and willing to fight greedy
utility companies, unresponsive city gover-
nments, and political bosses when ACORN of-
fers an effective way to do so. Without an
organization, that same constiuency drifts to
despair and demoralization,, becoming easy
pickings for the right.
ACORN organizing has taught us the most
powerful weapon the corporate elite has ints
arsenal is the notion that it can't be beat,
ACORN members are people who know first
hand that isn't true, that the majority can rule
when it's organized and determined to win,
They know it won't happen easily or quickly;
but are in for the long haul because the
quality of their lives and their children's lives
demand change.
The author is a former University
graduate and is now a community
organizer with Michigan A CORN, the
Association of Community Organizations
for Reform Now.

No bias on review committee

To the Daily:
Various unfortunate and misleading
allegations have been made about the effect
of prior service on the College Priorities
Committee upon the roles of Professors Har-
vey Brazer and Sidney Fine on the Geography
Review Committee. I was unaware of their
service on the College Priorities Committee
until they brought this matter to my attention
in our initial discussions of their possible ser-
vice on the Review Committee. They sub-
sequently offered to remove themselves from
consideration for the Review Committee
when Prof. John Nystuen, chairman of the
Department of Geography, questioned their
inclusion.
The Executive Committee and I considered

this matter and agreed that their service on
the College Priorities Committee should not
disqualify them from serving on the Review
Committee and in fact afforded them
valuable experience in comparative
evaluation of College programs that very few
members of our faculty have. I urged them to
accept appointment to the Committee, and
they agreed, out of a sense of loyalty to the
College and a belief in the importance of
faculty governance.
The College Priorities Committee in its
report of December, 1975, did not recommend
that the Department of Geography be
abolished. In the context of a longer commen-
tary on the Department, analogous to com-
mentaries on all the other departments of the

College, it posed a question that it made no at-
tempt to answer: "We note that many
distinguished universities do not have
Geography departments and raise the
question as to whether this university must
have one." The present Geography Review
Committee has considered this question atE
great length and has offered answers.
Charges of biasdo a profound disservice to
Prof. Brazer and Prof. Fine, two
distinguished members of our faculty whose
integrity is unimpeachable. They have suf-
fered unjustly because of their willingness to
accept a difficult task on behalf of the College
that they have served well for many years.
-John R. Knott
Acting Dean, LSA

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Why not a bond to save Geography

4

?

To the Daily:
An article on the possible
elimination of the geography
department (Daily, April 14) left
me somewhat puzzled. The ar-
ticle reveals that the University
can only save $500,000 in three

years not $5 million by getting rid
of the department.
As a student who is taking one
of the geography courses, and
being pretty satisfied with the
professor, I am hardly convinced
that such a measure is in the least

Nurses'strike endorsed

To the Daily:
As clerical workers at the
University, we are in full support
of the University nurses' attem-
pts to win a decent contract
through striking. The walkout
represents a growing awareness
of the University management's
unwillingness to make con-
cessions at the bargaining table,
and the nurses' willingness to
fight is a much-needed first step
toward winning their demands.
Though clericals at the Univer-
sity do not have the protection of
a union, there are ways we can

insult to one is an insult to all,"
and will begin to build strong ties
among campus labor., '
We also urge other campus
labor organizations to support the
nurses in whatever ways they
can. In particular, the upcoming
contract expiration of AFSCME
Local 1583, representing campus
service and maintenance
workers, presents an important
opportunity for these unions to
join forces. Fighting together,
AFSCME members and nurses
could demonstrate the strength

way appropriate and rational.
However, since the University
desperately needs some ways to
meet both ends, students who
take pride in this fine university
should not act simply to oppose
the elimination of the department
but propose a workable alter-
native.
In this context, finding an ad-
ditional means of financing the
continuance of the geography
department can be a practical
solution. Among the various
feasible means to the end, I, as a
foreign student and an observer
who is utterly appalled by this
overblown situation, would like to
introduce a method with which I
am fairly familiar.
It is the sale of a bond with a
very special character. It can be
named "Save the Geography
Department Bond." The amount
to be raised by the fund should be
set equivalent to the needed funds
for the department for a specific
nprinu fnr the future (it can be 5

bearing and the maturity be
decided to the aforementioned
specific period. There must be
lots of alumni and parents of
students who are not only
economically better off but also
concerned for a long-term future
of the University and ready to
donate toward the cause.
The bond can be more than a
token for them. Actually, this is
the very way to which the univer-
sity where I spent my in-
dergraduate years (Keio Univer-
sity, Tokyo, Japan) resorted, in
successfully tiding over past
financial difficulties. If legal
status as a bond could not be,
acquired, it would be named dif-
ferently such as "Investment,"
or "Arrangement."
The bottom line is to differen-
tiate such a fund-raising attempt
from ordinary donations in order
to call a special attention to, the
gravity of the elimination of -the
department. Moreover, I wishto
see concerned students aidi

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