The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1983 - Page 13-B
Diag provides absurd
education for observers
By GEORGEA KOVANIS
"Would you mind turning your music
down so I can deliver the word?"
screams a preppy evang.a.ist, trying to
captivate the attention of about 300
students, street people, and office
workers sprawled out on the Diag.
"Blaaaaaaaaah No," slurs a scraggy
man with the enormous tape player. As
he walks away he narrowly avoids a
collision with an elderly man digging
through a trash can.
IT IS NOON and the Diag is over-
flowing with frisbee players, sun-
bathers, cult groupies, picnickers, and
yes, even a few studiers. Located at the
heart of campus, the Diag is the
University's version of New York City's
Central Park where "people watching"
is a sport surpassed in popularity only
Another day: brightly painted rush
banners strung between trees billow in
the wind as the Hare Krishnas pound
abst-mindedly on their tambourines. Hum-
ming and chanting, they invite passers-
by to free vegetarian dinners at
To most the Diag is a personification
of absurdness. It is a gathering place
for demonstrators and Ann Arbor's
homeless. An average day's walk
through the Diag can turn into quite a
YET ANOTHER DAY: a group of
people equipped with signs and a
bullhorn begins to form. Soon they are
parading around the Diag calling for
magic solutions to world problems. But
seasoned Diag sitters take these actions
in stride and continue lunching on
cheese sandwiches and deli food.
"The only answer to nuclear war is
total destruction," yells a vocal spec-
tator who is wearing a winter hat and
coat despite the 70 degree weather. He
abandons his harangue as quickly as he
A MAN DRESSED as a gypsy, toting
an accordian, makes his way through
the confusion and soon the groaning,
off-key sound of a long-forgotten
melody fills the air.
A freshperson laughs raucously after
pushing a friend on to the 'M' in front of
the Graduate Library. According to
University legend, students who step on
the 'M' will fail their first exam.
But if every-day Diag activities seem
unique, wait until Central Campus plays
host to a special event. Last fall a car
bash drew hundreds to the Diag.
Students paid money to destroy a car
with a sledge hammer. A calculator
toss was another interesting event,
especially popular among engineers.
The sounds of accordian playing and
the chanting of Hare Krishnas never
end in the Diag. They continue
from day to day, providing students
with welcome diversions from
Daily Photo by DOUG McMAHON
Other activities include sunbathing,
'A group of students, play hacky sack, one of the many popular Diag pastimes.
'risbee throwing, and heckling the numerous preachers.
Miles of files and very few smiles
(Continued from rage si
"Before you get money in haid, there
are at least three and up to six.forms
atneed to be completed," he says.
WHAT IS EVEN worse, most forms
ask for information that is similar or
identical to all the others. You start to
feel like you are on a merry-go-round.
-Another problem students run into is
delayed loans. The process of sending
out all the forms to the proper state,
federal, or private offices and then
waiting for them to come back can take
months. Unfortunately, the telephone
company, the cable television office,
and even the University don't have
much sympathy and still expect bills on
niversity Health Service starts out
with a disadvantage. It is one of those
-places you don't want to be even before
you get there. the mind-set of students
going in is bad simply because they are
} ck, rundown, and probably in pain.
. HEALTH SERVICES used to be one
of the worst bureaucracies on campus.
Lines at the cashier's window wrapped
around the whole patient waiting area,
students who didn't or couldn't pay got
old credits, and everybody in the
building was annoyed about something.
.But with a new student billing
system, Health Services has made real
progress: appointments are easier,
lines are shorter, and the people are
Still, a trip to health Services can
have its moments.
Buying a prescription drug is a little
strange. You start at the pharmacy
window to get the prescription, then run
across the hall to the cashiers window
to pay for it. Only with receipt in hand
can you then re-cross the hall to have
the prescription filled at the pharmacy.
Three lines for the price of one.
HEALTH SERVICE also has this big
sign, just like the ones near the roller
coasters at Disneyland, that tells you
how long the wait is going to be.
Students feel the frustration of
bureaucracy most acutely, but they are
not the only ones affected by it. The
University employees - secretaries,
computer operators, professors, and
administrators - who work in it for
years are also affected subtly, ever so
THEY HAVE developed their own
language. It sounds like English, and in
fact is closely related to English, but is
unquestionably tainted by "obscure-
speak," the language of bureaucrats.
Words like "retrenchment,"
"discontinuance," and "modality" will
be tossed around. You won't under-
stand them at first, but if ou think for
awhile they start to make sense.
In the describing the bureaucracy it-
self, bureaucrats seem to come up with
the best examples of the dialect.
Says one administrator, of the
University's balance between cen-
tralized and dispersed service:-
"IT ALLOWS for the maximum inter-
face of students with the units that are
most germane or significant to the
student's functioning at the Univer-
Think about it.
Opposing all natural laws, the
University bureaucracy tends toward
complexity. Throw something simple to
the monster, and it comes out
dehumanized and often contorted.
Even something as simple, and
necessary as a student organizations
building and an intramural complex on
Central Campus can get lost in the
mess. They are affectionately named
SAB and CCRB. Guess which is which,
and what they stand for.
BUT WHY ALL the bureaucracy?
Why the complexity, the problems?
Why all the run arounds?
."The sheer magnitude of the Univer-
sity," says Henry Johnson, the vice
president for student services. "Much
of the complexity is related to its (the
: Students c
"When you are dealing with a decen-
tralized environment, not only teaching
and instruction, but also support ser-
vices, you are bound to encounter some
moments of inconvenience," he says.
In reality, says assistant registrar
Karunas, 99 percent of the processes on
campus involve several offices because
every unit governs itself.
"There's autonomy, pure
autonomy," he says. "Nobody can tell
anybody what to do. And when you try
to administrate that it's a pain."
JOHNSON SAYS University ad-
ministrators are well aware :of the
problems created in an environment
where power is spread among in-
dividual units rather than gathered in
That structure is the heart of the
University's academic strength, he
says, and most people overwhelmingly
feel that the costs of centralizing
power would greatly outweigh the
That does not mean University of-
ficials just sit back and let the
bureaucracy inundate their offices,
"OUR STAFF IS pretty sensitive,"
says financial aid director Zimmer-
man. "We do what we can to make the
system as simple as it can be... we have
cut down a lot on the data for our forms.
Hopefully that effort will continue to
where we are asking students for very
little information. But it won't happen
Caesar Briefer, director of Health
Services, says the center has made
amazing progress in streamlining ap-
"We've tried to make it as convenient
as possible for people to make appoin-
tments," he says. "If you have an ap-
pointment, you just show up at the ap-
pointed hour. You don't have to wait
for your record, you don't have to wait
in line. Our system is set up so that you
can't spend more than fifteen minutes
BUT STUDENTS can sidestep many
run arounds and paperwork tangles
just by asking questions and following
the proper directions, says Karunas.
How many problems do students
make for themselves?
"Eighty-five to ninety percent," says
Karnuas. "They are just not paying at-
tention. I've seen two people come in
and switch ID cards, pick up the wrong
one accidently. They go through the
whole registration process, get their ID
validated, then discover their courses
are in someone else's name.
"I tell students when they come in
here that they are the only ones who
know what they want. We can do all the
checking in the world but they are the
ones who have to make sure," he says.
'/ " " -rn r
2,000 students pay for note service
(Continuedfrom Page 12) students to take notes, and gives (notes) were exactly what th
there will always be people who abuse profesor the option of reviewing the advertised to be. Like any bus
the system .. . (Bartleby's) is not an notes before students pick them up, offer a product for a price."
excuse to skip class, those people will March said. The service also publishes When Bartleby's starts thi
skip class anyway," March said. a weekly correction sheet as part of classes offered will be betters
March calls Bartleby's a "learning each subscription, he said. the subscription, notes syster
tool" to help students take better notes This fall Bartleby's will adopt an said. The service will choose
by comparing them to their own notes. editing policy which will ensure that all troductory courses, and fewe
"You can have more fun in classes, notes are double checked for errors by such as art history, which in
because you can sit back and listen in another note-taker, March said. sonal interpretation, March sa
class. March would not say how much profit March also has plans to ex
. Although the service will not take the service netted last year, only that it service to other colleges. He sa
responsibility for errors in the notes, was "enough to pay off debts." organized Bartleby's in thes
March said Bartleby's is willing to go HE DID SAY that the service was mat at Ohio State Univers
out of its way to ensure accuracy. able to pay its note-takers $610 for each Western Michigan Universit
THE SERVICE uses only graduate class. Professors also are paid 50 cents considering expanding to the
for each subscription, although most sity of Minnesota, Purdue U
donated the money to their departmen- and Eastern Michigan Univers
ts, he said. "I could be very satisfied w
All complaints and flaws considered, ten Bartleby's and retire at 25
March said his business gives students would be ridiculous. I'm not g
exactly what they pay for. a millionaire from Bartleby's
"It is not the best thing for said with a smile.
everybody," he said. "But Bartleby's
s fall the
aid he has
y, and is
5, but that
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