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September 30, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-09-30

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OPINION

PageA.

Thursday, September 30, 1982

The Michigan Daily

6

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

Vol. XCIII, No. 19

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

New Black Student Union

ON APRIL 1, 1970, the Black Action
Movement called off its Univer-
sity-wide class strike. For a full week
before the radical group's decision,
every classroom at the University was
empty. All dormitory food services
closed their doors. Most professors
stayed home. The University shut
down.%
All because BAM, an arm of the
Black Student Union, wanted it to hap-
pen. BAM and the union made
headlines across the nation. They were
that important.
Through the '70s, the .union declined,
losing membership (and with it, clout)
until the BSU folded in 1978. Minority
activism was almost non-existent at
the time, and what little protest did
surface was a product of scattered and
ineffective organizations.
Now, after four years of absence, the
Union is attempting a comeback, and
no one should be happier than the
University's black community.
In March of 1970, the University
Regents pledged to increase campus
black enrollment to 10 percent by 1974.
The University hasn't come close to
x-.

reaching that figure. Black University
enrollment is currently at 4.9 percent,
a situation that demands correction.
The Black Student Union could aid in
finding a solution to the enrollment
problem. The union might also be
essential in solving other problems
campus blacks have been hit by recen-
tly, including restrictive tuition,
declining financial aid, and a lack of
representation in many of the Univer-
sity's governing boards, student and
administrative.
The union, if it does manage to get it-
self rolling, will face some tough
challenges on campus. The Univer-
sity's minority population has a recent
history of sorry apathy. In addition,
the University's current financial
situation may be an easy screen for
keeping black enrollment low-fiscal
emergency can be translated quickly
into "we can't afford to enroll more
blacks."
Obviously, today's BSU will not ac-
complish what the '60s union accom-
plished. But they can try, and in the
process, Ann Arbor's black community
should welcome them with open arms.

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A computer's

cockeyed look'

at America s troubled suburbs

0

Good morning

GOOD MORNING, this is your
University.
Today we're introducing a new
policy on late drop/adds. We're under
no obligation, of course, to offer you
any explanation for our actions, but we
thiought we'd give you a hint anyway.
; If your fall schedule is set, get up and
enjoy the day.
'If you have to go to CRISP, go back
to bed.
From now on, we'll be fining you $10
for changes in either elections or
modifiers. In other words, if you want
to drop Russian 101 before conjugation
ruins your life, or if you want to brave
calculus, but only with the insurance
of a pass/fail modifier, you'll just have
to pay up.
Now don't look so hurt. You know
how often we have to bill you. Tuition,
housing, overdue library books--these
things add up. You think a first-class
education grows on trees?
And besides, you've been clogging up
CRISP lines something awful. We had
to do something to thin them out.
Maybe the $10 fee will help.
Sure, we've already got lots of ways
to discourage you from going to CRISP

. ..

late. For example, if you drop a class
after the three-week limit, we'll put a
nice fat "W" on your transcripts. That
way, one day when a graduate school
or an employer asksyou why you were
a failure at college, you'll remember
us.
Also, if your credit load goes below
12 because of a late drop, we will still
charge partial tuition for the classes
you lose. Hey, a deal is a deal.
What's that? Why charge $10 on top
of these other penalties? Smart
question. We bet you graduated at the
top of your high school class. Well, we
do it because we must.
We must save money. We must teach
late droppers a lesson. We must keep
students in line.
We know that if you're in over your
head in a class or if you can't juggle
your classes and your job, our ten
bucks won't stop you from CRISPing

By Frank Viviano
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. - Until recen-
tly, the people of Northampton felt pretty
smug about their apparent good fortune.
In the midst of a recession that brought
hard times to so many other New England
towns, this Connecticut Valley community of
30,000 was experiencing a modest boom.
Businesses were flourishing in its freshly
rehabilitated Victorian downtown. Young
professionals were relocating here from
elsewhere in the region. The town's largest
industrial employer was dramatically expan-
ding its staff and facilities.
THEN, THIS summer, a grim report
arrived from the Rand Corporation.
On the strength of a highly publicized
$200,000 study commissioned in 1979 by the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, the influential Santa Monica,
Calif., think tank had concluded that Nor-
thampton faced serious social and economic
problems. In fact, it was one of America's
most "troubled suburbs."
If Northamptonites were surprised at this
unexpected diagnosis, they were not alone. Of
more than 6,000 U.S. communities studied by
Rand, the list of the nation's troubled also in-
cluded Shaker Heights, Ohio, long considered
the most exclusive district of greater
Cleveland; Evanston, the refined lakefront
suburb on Chicago's north side; Cambridge,
Mass., home of Harvard and M.I.T.; Newton,
Mass., which boasts that state's highest
property values, and Berkeley, Calif., the
sunny student utopia on San Francisco Bay.
THE SOCIAL and economic reasons cited
by the think tank for such dubious distinction
varied from place to place. In Northampton's
case, Rand pointed out that the town ranked
among the rock bottom 50 U.S. communities
in five critical areas: It was ridden with an
aging housing stock and a disproportionate
number of elderly citizens; there was far too
little new construction; population growth
was a problem, and per capita income was
dangerously low.
Whatever the self-satisfaction of these
townsfolk, they ought to have been worried.
The Rand data proved it. Or did they?
"It sure bothered the hell out of me at fir-
st," says Northampton mayor David Musan-
te. "Then I took a closer look at their
statistics."
WHERE RAND found a disturbingly aged
housing stock, for instance, the mayor saw
one of Northampton's most valuable assets.

"Sure we have old houses here-after all, we
were founded in 1654," he said. "And anyone
who owns a colonial house in Massachusetts
will tell you that it doesn't reflect poverty."
As for low per capita income, the Northam-
pton Daily Hampshire Gazette observed the
obvious in an editorial devoted to the study:
The town serves thousands of students from
some of the nation's most expensive in-
stitutions. Smith College, alma mater of Nan-
cy Reagan and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, is
located here. Amherst, Mount Holyoke and
Hampshire Colleges are close by. Affluent by
any standards, most of these young people
statistically earn no income at all.
Finally, added Gazette editor Edward
Shanahan: "We take it as a positive sign that
there is a large elderly population here.
People like this community and don't feel
obliged to leave. . . This is a hometown with
all that implies."
IT WOULD be comforting to conclude that
the Northampton confusion was the excep-
tion, a single oversight in an otherwise ac-
curate picture of deteriorating U.S. com-
munities. But the fact is that it is no worse
than myriad other examples in the Rand
study.
The per capita income fallacy applied to
this Massachusetts college town applies
equally to Cambridge, Berkeley, and Evan-
ston, as well as to several more campus
communities which turned up on the troubled
list.
The mayor of Newton, Theodore Mann, not
only shares David Musante's view that old
buildings are far from a liability in an era of
gentrification; he also has a ready ex-
planation for the fact, cited by Rand, that the
average educational level of his constituents
did not rise appreciably over a 10-year period.
"Newton's (average) was already one of the
highest in the country, so its percentage in-
crease could not be that great," said Mann.
SURELY THE hazards of research based
entirely on computer profiles, rather than ac-

tual community contact, played a part in
Rand's conclusions. Officials in several of the
listed towns said that, as far as they knew,
Rand experts neither made field visits to their
areas nor called to verify data.
"As a study of any individual place, such as
Northampton, the report is clearly
inadequate," commented Rand researcher
Judith Fernandez, who co-authored the study.
"Our intention was to look at as many places
as possible, and you can't go everywhere in
person. We had to depend on patterns of data
instead. It is certainly possible that when you
look at them in depth, some of these com-
munities should not be on our list."
HUD spokeswoman JackieCopnn said that
the federal government currently "has no
plans to use the study for any specific pur-
pose, and perhaps never will. It has gone into
our research bank; if at some time we think
we might need the data, we can pull it out."
BUT USED or not, the Rand report raises
some disturbing questions beyond the ex- .
cessive dependence on computers. For hidden
in its welter of statistics lie bleak assumptions
about what is healthy-and what is not-in
American community development.
Shaker Heights, Berkeley, Evanston, and
dozens of other places on the Rand list ap-
peared there, in part, because of increases in
the percentage of black or Hispanic residents.
"Problem populations," Rand called them.
The suggestion, in sum, is clear: The ideal
suburb is only brand new, well-heeled and
unencumbered by the elderly. It is also white.
There is no disputing that some American
suburbs are in deep trouble-or even that
Northampton, despite its comforts, has real
problems of its own. But the greater danger
facing U.S. society may be a conception of the
ideal commurity which leaves so little room.
for diversity.
Viviano wrote this article for Pacific-
News Service.

late.
It will just make life al
ficult.
But then again, we
would be easy.
You're welcome.

little more dif-
never said it

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