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September 14, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-09-14

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14

OPINION

Page 4

Tuesday, September 14, 1982.

The Michigan Daily

I

Trudeau' s

vacation no

laughing

By David Spak
There's been a lot happening in the world
lately, as usual, but I've had a little problem
sorting everything out and deciding what is the
most important story of the day.
Could it be the continuing saga in the Middle
East? Or perhaps the Soviet-Western
European pipeline controversy?
NO? HOW ABOUT something a little more
domestic-say, the New Right's big push on
abortion and school prayer? Environmen-
talists would argue that James Watt's wish to
lease offshore acreage to energy companies at
the possible expense of several forms of animal
and plant life is more pressing.
Certainly all these issues are important, but
the most important? I don't think so. To me,
the most important story of perhaps the next
two years wasn't even headline news in The
New York Times. In fact, I found out about it
late last week at the end of the Independent
Network News show on Channel 50.
They announced that beginning January 2
Garry Trudeau, creator of the comic strip
Doonesbury, will begin a 20-month vacation.
I COULDN'T believe my ears.
Twenty months without Mike, Zonker, Uncle
Duke, and the rest of Trudeau's off-beat collec-
tion of characters.
Trudeau said-in a statement, not in person
(he is a very private man)-that he needs a
"breather."
HE EXPLAINED, "For almost 15 years, the
main characters have been ;trapped in a time

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matter
Congresswoman Lacey Davenport, simply
said, "Oh, isn't it sad."
Both Fenwick and Carter are right. Trudeau
has that rare gift to make us laugh even as he
reminds us of the serious problems that 'con-
front our society. And if we can laugh at those
problems, somehow they might seem a little
easier to solve.
Even the ultra-conservative William Buckley. -
praised Trudeau's liberal voice in his introduc-.
tion to The Doonesbury Chronicles, a collection
of Trudeau's best strips from the mid-'70s.
Although Buckley does not agree with Trudeauf.
even he can appreciate the comic strip artist's
talent.
BEYOND THE humor, however, lies an im-
portant voice that has almost made Trudeau
the liberal conscience of the nation. That voice
was considered important enough to be awar
ded the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning,
in 1975-a first for a comic strip. {
It's no wonder that Gerald Ford, while he-
was president, said that to find out what was
going on in Washington one could look to three
sources: newspapers, television, and
Doonesbury, not necessarily in that order.
For 20 months or so there will be only two
sources.
Spak is a Daily staff reporter.

warp, and so find themselves carrying the
scars of two separate generations. It was un-
fair to stretch their formative years to em-
brace both the Vietnam War and preppy."
Perhaps Trudeau is right.
Maybe it is a little too much to ask of one
comic strip to send its characters from the
jungles of Vietnam (as one of the original
characters, B.D., did), through Watergate
(when Mark Slackmeyer declared John Mit-
chell "guilty, guilty, guilty" on his "Watergate
Profiles" radio show), then through Jimmy
Carter's presidency with his Secretary of Sym-
bolism, Duane Delacourt, and now through the
era of Prep.

But it seems to me that Trudeau has handled
the passage of eras well. I look forward to
reading the strip every morning now as much
or more than I did five years ago when I first
got hooked. Doonesbury is the first thing I read
each morning. It gets me started with at least a
smile.
MANY PEOPLE might place all other world
events ahead of this vacation, but not me.
Trudeau's absence from my mornings will
mean that I will have to take all the other world
events straight. For a time my fellow
Doonesbury fanatics will not have those few
moments each morning to laugh, chuckle, or
titter at the more serious problems that con-

front us.
That, as they say, is no laughing matter. For
a while, at least, Doonesbury fans will not be
able to savor a laugh over the crisis in the Mid-
dle East (how does Arafat manage to keep that
three-day-old beard look?) or share in a char-
tered cruise to the Falklands to watch Britain
retake the islands.
I'm not alone in my sentiments for Trudeau's
creation. Former President Jimmy Carter,
himself the target many times over of
Trudeau's criticism, said, "I'm heartbroken.
Garry Trudeau is going to leave us destitute."
REP. MILLICENT Fenwick (R-N.J.), who
has been immortalized as Doonesbury's

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

Vol. XCIII, No. 5

420 Maynord St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

\\ WELL., NE CAN WARN
" F&NITASY 1WW "THAT
INC EDDI LE" 9 TO E
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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

/
_

Band salute bombs
I N CONNECTICUT, the launching of with 24 missiles equipped with
the second Trident submarine was nuclear warheads each might b
marked by the arrest of eleven peace propriate. Or that 2,000 peoplec
protesters w chanting "Trident is strated against the first Triden
death." ch. They just didn't think.
But in the Michigan Stadium, the It's clear-now, at least-ti
launch was heralded by a Go-Blue blurb for Trident wasn't intend
dedication as the band played a interpreted as School of Music,c
rousing chorus of "Anchors Aweigh." University, policy. If a few th
Who authorized the outrageous fans didn't realize that the pr
salute to nuclear insanity before some show was meant to kick off the f
100,000 people? A top-level ad- team, not the Reagan administr
ministrative decision? Well, not quite. defense policy, then everyone in
The band director denies respon- claims to be very sorry.
sibility. He says he was following or- The apologies, however, don
ders from the music school dean. The take away the frightening a
dean claims he didn't do it, either. He having a nuclear submarine
says he routinely passed on a request porated into the antics of a Wo
from the Navy ROTC without giving game. More reprehensible th
any controversy a second thought. An- salute itself is the fact that the o
nouncements at the game are "not involved didn't understandi
scrutinized very carefully," the dean plications. The main criterion fo
said with understatement. The band the announcement, it seems, w
members themselves certainly are in the 'U' and the sub had a
the dank. It seems several got wind of something in common-bot
the announcement along with the fans named Michigan.
when they heard it Saturday. The whole thing might be fun
In fact, the controversy itself baffled weren't so scary. After all, i
the folks at the School of Music. What thing to be part of a hawkish 1
with getting the band ready for the sity. It's another thing to hav
season, they didn't have time to con- school turn hawkish out of
sider the pre-game blurb about a sub ignorance.-
SHOVEL.
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04

Suseso:An easy way out

By Louis Freedberg
More than two million students
will be sent home from school this
year for behavior ranging from
gum chewing to assaulting a
teacher. The "back-to-basics"
movement, with its accom-
panying emphasision discipline,
has brought with it a steady in-
crease in the rate of suspensions
nationwide.
In the some school districts, the
figures are shocking:
* In Oakland, Calif., a school dis-
trict with just under 50,000 stud-
ents, suspensions rose from 5,803
to 9,852 over a two-year period.
* In Los Angeles, in spite of
declining enrollments, the num-
ber of suspensions has risen
steadily in recent years to a total
of 37,911 students out of 238,865
secondary students in 1981 - or
about 16 percent.
* In Philadelphia, one out of four
secondary students was suspen-
ded last year, at a rate five times
the national average. In one
school, 65 percent of all students
were suspended at least once
during the year.
According to the latest
available national figures from
the U.S. Office of Civil Rights,

In Santa Ana, Calif., 59 students
were expelled last year - up
from only nine the previous eyar.
In New York City, a crackdown
on students carrying weapons
brings with it automatic suspen-
sion and the threat of expulsion.
New statewide guidelines in
California recommend expulsion
for any offenses involving
weapons, drugs, assault, arson or
extortion.
The increase in suspensions
has raised anew the controversy
regarding the purpose and effec-
tiveness of this form of student
discipiine. "If the goal of
education is to make kids produc-
tive members of society, suspen-
sion is not a very effective way to
achieve that goal," said Susan
Spelletich, a lawyer with Legal
Services for Children in San
Francisco.
In many cases Spelletich has
handled, parents were not
notified that their children had
been suspended, nor did the
school district keep records of the
suspensions. In other cases
students simply were sent home
and told not to come back to
school.
These practices, according to
Spelletich, violated students'
constitutional rights as set by the

that black students are twice as
likely to be suspended as white
students, and the situation ap-
pears to be getting worse.
A Philadelphia parents' group
report, funded by a grant form
the Department of Justice,
documents a typical pattern: A
wide disparity in suspension
rates exists among schools in the
same school district. Schools
with high suspension rates, the
report concludes, are charac-
terized by an emphasis on control
rather than instruction, and a
lack of parental and community
involvement. It also found that
students were suspended for
repeated violations of the
school's code of behavior, even
when those violations were
trivial, like being late for school.
Pat Smith of the Children's
Defense Fund found that in many
cases the prime reason students
were suspended was for cutting
classes or loitering in hallways.
"For the crime of being absent
from school, the punishment is
that they are made to be more
absent," said Smith.
Schools with low suspension
rates used suspensions as
"measures of last resort to be
used only when all else had
failed, and even then, with great

suspensions. Others are reluc-
tant to release suspension6
statistics for public scrutiny.
"It's not the kind of thing we
choose to put forward to the
public," said one New York City
school official in explaing why his
district refuses to publish any;
figures on suspensions.
The last major report n susperf
sions was completed exactly a
decade ago by the Washington-,
based Children's Defense Fund. _
It concluded that suspensions are
"simply an easy way of avoiding-
a symptom rather than treating a-
problem."
The other side of the picture i-
that suspensions may protecC
teachers and other students from.
violent or dangerous young
people, at least temporarily. :
Teacher's unions across the
country have pushed for tougher
discipline codes, which in some=
school districts have had an im-
pact. In New York City, studert
assaults against teachers
declined by 22 percent last year
a result the American Federation
of Teachers ascribes at least par,
tly to the city's stricter discipline
code.

i t % r y l ."ii

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