Page 2-_The Michigan Daily - Sunday, September 25, 1983
Biology Professor John Vandermeer says students must fight against the government's "illegal and immoral acts." Daily Photo by JEFF SCHRIE
Takin a stand in the classroom
By JAN RUBENSTEIN responsi
The sign in university professor John THE N
Vandermeer's office window reads not poli
"U.S. OUT OF CENTRAL AMERICA," graduat
followed by the required qualifier, Kansasi
"'Not official policy of UM." fected b
Though only one of many political adding ti
signs on campus, Vandermeer's banner ti-war pr
is especially revealing; the display is a Vande
testament to the life of the activist "illegal
Biology professor. tral Ame
AT ONE TIME such exhibitions issue.
caused a stir: During the summer of A pres
1981 University personnel repeatedly Nicarag
removed - "against my will," Van- released
dermeer says - a sign reading "U.S. HE IS
OUT OF EL SALVADOR" from his New W
Natural Science Building office win- agricultu
dow; a University attorney and Zoology currentl3
Prof. Norman Kemp called Vander- Ministry
meer's political actions "inap- Labor
Finally Vandermeer removed the famous
sign himself. But it remained, along Campbel
with others, as perhaps the most telling Closer
metaphor for his life. classes c
From visual displays to marches and His most
rallies to his highly politicized biology Biology
courses, activism for social awareness biology a
and social change is Vandermeer's politics o
most valued cause. While
HIS POLITICAL leanings have put research
him at the center of controversy and ecology
drawn the criticism of those who say "His m
overt political involvement is inap- relate to
propriate for a professor. Schultz,.
But Vandermeer maintains that "It is and teacl
perfectly appropriate for a professor to "I'VE
be concerned with his government, just him as t
like any other citizen." departm
His motivation for activism "comes Stude
from a certain commitment," Van- generall:
dermeer says. "I see things wrong in "It addsI
the world, and I feel a responsibility to an LSA;
do something about them. It's that in Biolog
(Continued from Page 1) Marcos
gas, clubs and guns, injuring 14 people pressure
and jailing 53. The government said Benigno
those arrested were charged with had just
sedition and rebellion. voluntary
bility which gives meaning to
1ATIVE Chicagoan says he was
tically active until he started
e studies at the University of
in 1961. "I was profoundly af-
y the Vietnam war," he said,
hat he participated in many an-
otests during the Vietnam era.
ermeer says he views the
and immoral" actions in Cen-
erica as today's most important
sing need exists to educate the
f "just how much our gover-
is involved in waging war
d that end, Vandermeer recen-
uthored a book on the history
litics of Nicaragua, The"
uan Reader, which will "be
ALSO an active member of the
orld Agricultural Group, an
ural development organization
y working with the Nicaraguan
of Agriculture; and the Farm
Organizing Committee, a
worker's lobbying group most
for instigating the boycott of
Il's Soup and Libby's.
r to home, Vandermeer's
carry overt political overtones.
t popular course, Biology 101 -
and Human Affairs, uses
as a window into the issues and
of contemporary society.
Vandermeer conducts basic
into intercropping and the
of agricultural ecosystems,
ain thing is making biology
our own society," said Brian
a graduate student in biology
hing assistant for Biology 101.
HEARD some people refer to
he conscience of the (biology)
ent," Schultz added.
nts in Biology 101 seem
y pleased with the approach.
to the class," said Shari Miller,
sophomore currently enrolled
gy 101. "Rather than making
you take sides, he uses (a political ap-
proach) constructively," she said.
Jessica Bernstein, Vandermeer's
research assistant, agrees that the in-
terdiciplinary approach benefits
students, and said Vandermeer's
method is thought-provoking without
"SOME PEOPLE get upset about
issues, which makes for interesting
discussions," she said. "It's not like he
converts people, or even tries to."
Vandermeer says the idea is to "en-
courage people to analyze why they are
doing whay they are doing." The en-
couragement, he says, is toward in-
trospection rather than activism.
Nevertheless, some of his graduate
students have left academia in favor of
activism. "Sometimes they change,"
Vandermeer said. "It happened to
THE POLITICAL approach has had
some negative consequences, as well.
"As a radical professor, he was a long
time not getting promotions and things
like that," Schultz said. And in Biology
101, which Schultz said is "open about
being biased," Vandermeer's views
"really anger some people ...They feel
like they're being preached at," Schultz
Vandermeer's approach to education
is as unique as his "political biology"
class: Biology and Human Affairs
students are allowed to repeat
examinations and rewrite papers as of-
ten as they wish.
"EVERYBODY can get an A if they
want one," Vandermeer said. "I don't
go along with the theory in general that
students should be blackmailed by
grades into learning."
Instead, he says his goal in teaching
is to make students want to learn by
making biology relevant to students'
Because of the relative leniency of
the course, Biology and Human Affairs
has gained a reputation as a "blow-off
class." Vandermeer, a professor since
1972, says he is not concerned with the
class' stigma. "It does attract
sometimes some sort of silly students,
but that is an exception, not a rule," he
ACCORDING TO students and co-
workers, Vandermeer's concern with
the state of the world rubs off on those
Hugh McGuinness, another TA for
Biology and Human Affairs who
described Vandermeer as "warmly
demanding," said he feels the professor
does prod people toward social
"To work closely with him, their is a
requirement to understand the political
nature of things," McGuinness said,
quickly adding that "I don't think that's
bad at all. You can go work with two
million other people if you don't want to
VANDERMEER IS open about his
devotion to political issues even above
his strictly scientific pursuits. "My first
commitment is to participation in the
making of a better world," he said.
Sometimes that means working in
politics, sometimes in science, but
usually both, he added.
What distinguishes Vandermeer in
the eyes of many is the fervor with
which he follows political issues.
"I think he probably has less private
time than any other faculty member I
can think of," and averages only about
five hours of sleep per night, Schultz
DESPITE A growing conservatism
on most campuses, Vandermeer says
he is optimistic about today's students.
"I see a lot of encouraging signs that
students are waking up again," he said,
citing student concern with militarism,
the University budget, President
Harold Shapiro's recent $10,000 raise,
and cuts to the School of Education.
"It's time to get active again," Van-
dermeer says. "I hope that everybody
becomes aware of what the government
is doing, and that it's up to them, the
students, to make the government
Compiled from Associated Press and
United Press International reports
Syria hits peacekeeping force
The state-run Syrian newspaper Tishrin said yesterday that if the
multinational force becomes further embroiled in the civil war, its with-
drawal "will become a basic condition for any solution in Lebanon."
Referring to U.S. naval bombardment of the mountains and a French air
strike on militia positions, Tishrin said the force had become "a tool of
killing and destruction, and a party directly involved in the fighting against
Lebanon and its people."
There is growing sentiment in both houses either to shorten the 18-month
limit on the Marines' stay, which now is part of a Lebanon war powers com-
promise, or require the troops to come home in 60 days unless Congress
votes approval for them to stay.
"What do we gain by keeping the Marines there?" asked Sen. Joseph
Biden (D-Del), "I think it is crazy what we are doing."
"I don't think the American people want the Marines there at all," said
Rep. Toby Roth (D-Wis.).
Pope urges rhythm method
VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II urged American bishops yesterday
to launch a vigorous educational campaign to convince Roman Catholic
couples to practice "natural" birth control.
In a major speech on Christian marriage and family life, the pontiff said
the number of couples successfully using the rhythm method of sexual ab-
stinence is "constantly growing."
But the pope, addressing 14 U.S. bishops at a Vatican audience, said a
"much more concerted efort" is needed to help couples determine "the
spacing of births and the size of the family." John Paul condemned artificial
birth control and told another group of American prelates that it can never
be justified "for any reason."
The only method of birth control encouraged by the Roman Catholic Chur-
ch is the rhythm method of sexual abstinence.
During the 1980 synod on the family, Archbishop John Quinn of San Fran-
cisco cited studies indicating that 76.5 percent of America's Catholic women
use some type of artificial birth control method and only 29 percent of the
Catholic priests in the United States believe artificial contraception is im-
Search for jet debris stalled
OTARU, Japan - Bad weather in the Sea of Japan yesterday hampered
the race between the United States and Soviet Union to recover the "black
box" from the downed South Korean airliner.
U.S. Navy officials have said they believe the black box, which records
cockpit conversation and in-flight information, is still lying on the bottom of
"The sea is very choppy out there," said Maritime Safety Agency official
Hiroshi Kijima. "With waves two to three meters (6 to 9 feet) high, it ap-
pears both American and Soviet ships have suspended the underwater
Moscow has promised to turn over "objects and documents" retrieved
from the Sea of Japan west of Sakhalin, where the Korean jet crashed after
being hit by a Soviet air-to-air missile.
Tsongas calls for Watt's ouster
WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary James Watt, struggling to hold on to
his job, came under renewed fire for what a Democratic senator charged
was his "outrageous expression of bigotry."
Sen. Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.) used the weekly Democratic radio address
to charge that Reagan's refusal to fire Watt was symbolic of an ad-
ministration "that has shown so little concern for women, for minorities and
for theiles fortunate among us."e*
Tsongas said in the radio address that, Watts commentwas his latest ef-
f9g't fp "vide his fellow countryrnefl." :, ...
"How is it possible in modern-day America for this kind of bigotry to be
running amok in the president's Cabinet for such a long time?" Tsongas
asked. "The answer is very simple - because the president allows it."
He called on Americans to "let President Reagan know that James Watt
offends the greatness, the moral sensitivity and the togetherness of
Reagan talk beamed to Russia
WASHINGTON - President Reagan beamed his weekly radio address in-
to the Soviet Union yesterday complaining to the Soviet people about their
government's "inflexibility" on arms control and shooting down of a Korean
"We have no quarrel with you, the Soviet people," Reagan said in his ad-
dress, simultaneously translated into seven languages and broadcast live to
The Soviet Union and three continents by the Voice of America.
"But please understand the world believes no government has the right ot
shoot civilian airliners out of the sky. Your airline Aeroflot has violated sen-
sitive U.S. air space scores of times, but yet we would never fire on one of
your planes and risk killing your friends or loved ones."
Reagan said the Soviet people have not yet heard the truth from the
Kremlin on the Sept. 1 downing of a Korean airliner carrying 269 people.
In a long-planned bit of diplomatic one-upsmanship, Reagan traveled
several blocks to the BOA headquarters to make the address. The plans were
kept secret to avoid tipping the Soviets so they take extra measures to elec-
tronically jam the broadcast.
Filipinos demand Marcos' ouster
has come under increasing
to resign because of the Aug.
sination of his chief rival,
Aquino, a former senator who
returned from three years of
y exile in the United States. A
Major Events Presents:
growing number of Filipinos have ac-
cused the authoritarian regime of
engineering the assassination, but he
has denied involvement and refuses to
There was no immediate reaction
from Marcos but a church source who
asked not to be identified said religious
leaders were "cautiously optimistic"
the president, a Roman Catholic, would
accept the proposed council as an
alternative to resignation.
ULTIMATE TAILGATE PICNIC
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THE PRESIDENT SAID Thursday
he would use force to handle demon-
strations, after 11 people were killed
and nearly 200 were injued in rioting
Wednesday night around the presiden-
William Sullivan, who served as
American ambassador to the Philip-
pines in the 1970s, said Marcos should
step down for the good of the country.
A quotation in Friday's Daily was in-
correctly attributed to Ann Arbor
Assistant School Superintendent Robert
Moseley. The statement should have
been attributed to Dean Bodley, the
vice president of the Ann Arbor
0 c A rbthnjan U at1
- Vol. XCIV - No. 16
Sunday, September 25, 1983
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