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September 06, 1984 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-09-06

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The Michigan Daily -- Thursday, September 6, 1984 - Page 3

Sit-ins, demonstrations still exist

Student activism has been a long-
standing tradition on college campuses
across the country. From World War I
to the turbulent 60s, whenever students
were displeased with the way the world
is runthey demonstrated against it.
But in an age of Reaganomics and
new conservative values, the vast
majority of students' priorities have
turned toward their individual concerns
and away from political issues.
HOWEVER THERE are a few people
on campus who still believe that the
great injustices of the world can be
solved through protests, demon-
strations and civil disobedience.
Foremost among these individuals is
the Progressive Student Network, an
activist anti-military group that main-
tains a controversial standing on
weapons research and the arms race.
PSN was founded about two years
ago by two students and since that time
has grown considerably. According to
PSN member Chris Hill, PSN had 20-25
active members as of April and "a

couple hundred people who consider
themselves in some way affiliated with
PSN." The group keeps no official
registry of members.
But Hill said that membership is not a
measure of the group's success. In-
stead, he said, "getting things done,

campus. PSN member Nancy Aranoff
said that if opposition exists, it is not
organized against PSN. She said that
such an organization will not come
about because of the political apathy of
the students.
"People are anti-political, and they

'... getting things done, getting people
angry, and making people aware of the
problems. I consider that a success.'
-Chris Hill
PSN member

have provoked strong resentment.
LAST FALL AND winter terms, the
PSN was responsible for two demon-
strations inside laboratories in the East
Engineering Building. In the first in-
stance, members were allowed to
remain in the lab-accused by PSN as
doing weapons research-for 48 hours
before they got up and left.
The second demonstration was not so
passive. This time members had to
force their way past University Public
Safety officers and lab researchers to
get inside engineering Prof. George
Haddad's laboratory only to be carried
off by Ann Arbor Police on charges of
tresspassing that same day.
Hill, one of those arrested, said he is
not bitter toward University officials
for the decision to call in the police and
that, compared to treatment of similar
protests in the 60s and 70s, the ad-
ministration acted responsibly.
"I think that (the University ad-
ministration is) a little smarter now in
how to deal withtactivism," he said.
"They didn't want to arrest us. They'll
be the first to admit that."

:a Daily Photo by DOUG McMAHON
members of the Progressive Student Network protest military research on
campus last year by staging a sit-in at a University Laboratory. 11
protesters were arrested and jailed for trespassing.

getting people angry, and. . . making
people aware of problems. I consider
that a success."
THOUGH MOST students would
agree that the concerns and tactics of
the PSN are not representative of the
majority of the student body, the group
is not threatened by opposing groups on

hate it when you bring up political
issues," Hill said. "What they want out
of college is four years of fun and a
But for some students, it is more than
a shallow political consciousness that
puts them at odds with groups such as
the PSN. It is the group's tactics, that

Profs speak out on the issues

The wave of activism which charac-
terized the turbulent '60s was fueled not
st by students, but by their teachers
,s well. Faculty members regularly
$athered beside students at rallies
,Qtesting the war in Vietnam and par-
tiipating in teach-ins.
Today, things have died down. There
aren't a lot of large-scale, campus-wide
protests or a lot of professors who
choose to take on controversial issues.
Yet there are still indications that
4culty members are still willing to
demonstrate their opinions such as
When a biology professor hung a sign in
his office window reading "U.S. our of
,4ntral America."
The few activist professors that
enain are sometimes scorned by their
cleagues, and criticized by their peers
*r daring to present their views. And
many are concerned about how those
views may bias material presented to
According to Prof. John Vandermeer,
yho hung the controversial sign,
faculty members who hold strong views
';are bound to color what they present
. classes." But Vandermeer stressed
,fat professors have to be open and

honest with students. "I try not to fool
students with- a pseudo-neutral
argument," he said.
David Hales, a professor in the
natural resources school agrees. "I do
not make any deceiving statements or
disguise my opinions from the facts,"
said Hales, who often criticizes the
Reagan administration for neglecting
the environment.
However, LSA Dean Peter Steiner is
cautious about having professors
displaying their own views during sup-
posedly impartial lectures.
"Professors must make special effor-
ts to make sure students understand
what their own views are and the ex-
tent to which those views reflect
professional expertese," said Steiner.
Other professors strongly disagree
with Vandermeer and Hales. The view
is that impressionable students may not
be able to differentiate between the fac-
ts and the professor's own opinions. But
Steiner commented that students
should know they're going to hear
strong opinions on campus. "People
coming to the University must expect to
be bombarded with different points of
views," he said.
The effects of political activism on

the part of the professor depends on
"the good judgement of the professor
and the sophistication of the audience.
While a freshmen introductory class
may not be able to critically evaluate a
professor's personal views, a graduate
class most likely can," Steiner added.
"With academic freedom, there is
academic responsibility," he said,
noting that it is possible for professors
to abuse their relationship with studen-
Ultimately, though, the University is
not afraid of the academic freedom of
its profesors. Said Steiner, "I can not
imagine saying to a professor to stop
talking about an issue."

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