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September 05, 1985 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-05

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Page A 6 - The Michigan Doily - Thursday, September 5, 1985
BAM strike memories reveal current apathy

Students held teach-ins all over
campus. They formed picket lines
outside school buildings, held demon-
strations, and blocked traffic. City
police were called in repeatedly to
control possible violence.
Three days after the Black Action
Movement Strike of 1970 officially
began, students started to boycott
classes. By the strike's seventh day,
over 50 percent of the students in LSA
were not attending any classes.
THE Residential College and the
anthropology department both shut.
down, and while other departments
continued classes, it was generally
understood that students would not be
punished for boycotting them.
On March 20 of this year, the
strike's 15th anniversary, faculty and
students reflected on the conservative
trend which has allowed such an in-
tense movement on campus to be
"We're rolling back. We're can-
celling out the BAM strike," said
natural resources Prof. Bunyan
Bryant, who was a graduate student
at the University during the strike.
ON MARCH 20 in 1970, students
picketed in front of Hill Auditorium
the morning of the Honors Con-
vocation, protesting the University's
lack of commitment to increase the
number of black students and faculty
on campus.
On Monday, March 23, students
began boycotting classes, and passed
out flyers detailing the grievances of
the strikers and demands to the
University's regents and then-
President Robben Fleming.
Four days earlier, the regents had
passed a resolution to increase black
enrollment to 10 percent of the student
population by the 1973-74 school year.
BAM was angry because the regents
did not plan any concrete steps to
achieve this goal.
THE STRIKE was a combination of
rallies, gatherings, teach-ins, and
speeches, Bryant said.
He said the "1970s were days of
rage and anger on college campuses.
The tone was one of confusion, one of
anger, one of excitement, one of em-

powerment, one of alienation.
"I remember picketing at the
science building and at the old ar-
chitecture building, encouraging
students and faculty not to attend
class. I also went to some public
meetings," Bryant said.
"The way I remember it, it was
student-initiated and student-led, and
most of the energy came out of the law
Edwin Fabre, now an attorney in
Detroit, was a law student at the
University in 1970. He was also the
"principle spokesman" for the
strikers, he said.
He attended bargaining meetings
with Fleming and a handful of central
BAM strikers, including anthropology
Prof. Niara Sudarkasa, now an
associate vice president for academic
"THE MEETINGS turned out to be
like contract negotiation meetings,"
Fabre said. "By and large, they were
very intense."
He said he also thought the strike
was very successful, but does not
believe that now.
"In light of the developments, I
believe what was done should have
been a take-off point, but it was back
to school as usual," Fabre said.
Black enrollment now stands at 5.1
percent, just slightly more than half
the 1970 goal.
OTHERS are not quite as
pessimistic looking back at the strike.
School of Education Prof. Percy
Bates, who did not hold classes
during the eight-day strike, said: "I
think that the strike heightened the
sensitivity and awareness to the
problem of discrimination. There
were people who were just not aware
of it and people who chose to ignore
that the situation existed. The strike
made people aware that there was a
He also noted that "there was an
immediate change the next fall with a
great influx of black students."
The registrar's office reports that in
1968, blacks made up about 2.4 per-
cent of the student population. In the
fall following the BAM strike, the per-
centage quickly jumped to 4.7, or over
1,500 black students.

THE NUMBER peaked in 1976,
when black enrollment was 7.6 per-
cent, but Dave Robinson, an assistant
director of admissions, said that the
high percentage was a result of the
University "bending over backward"
to admit black students. "(The Univer-
sity) had the admissions standards
too low," he said, and as a result, "the
attrition rate went up."
Bates said the momentum from the
strike propelled the University's
commitment for five years, "then
began to level off, then drop off."
Jon Lockard, a local artist and a
lecturer for the Center for Afro-
American and African Studies
(CAAS) in LSA, thinks of the strike as
a crack in the door. "It finally let
people in to study who are citizens of
the United States of America."
BUT HE sees the absence of
adequate support services as the
biggest failure of the strike. He said
that academic and social services
must be available to black students
"to make smooth transitions into
major universities."
Bryant said that the students of the
1970s were "intelligent and capable,
but they were not prepared."
He attributes the high attrition rate
of black students admitted to the
University in the first few years
following the strike to the lack of ser-
vices to help prepare them for the
IN RESOLVING the BAM strike,
Fleming and the regents agreed to
initiate support programs to help
black students adjust to the academic
environment at the University, ac-
cording to a 1970 Daily article.
These included CAAS to teach
students about black heritage, Trotter
House, an often troubled social
gathering place for minority students,
and two academic counseling
programs which since have merged
into the Comprehensive Studies
In addition to the demand for sup-
port programs, the strikers also wan-
ted an increase in the number of black
students and faculty at the Univer-
sity, and an increase in financial aid
to help recruit more black students.

BLACK leaders say they are disap-
pointed that neither of these goals has
been reached.
"When the BAM strike broke out, I
was in California. As soon as I got
back, I picked up my picket sign and
encouraged students not to attend
class," Bryant said.
Bates remembers the strike as "a
groundswell of support. Each day it
seemed to pick up momentum.
"THE FIRST day or so it was
business as usual. As time went on , it
picked up supporters until (the
University) basically shut down,"
Bates said.
"The Black Action Movement was a
coalition of black student
organizations," Fabre explained.
"There was the law school group, an
undergraduate group, a medical
group, and an engineering group,
among others."
Fabre said that in late 1969 or early
1970 all the black student
organizations came together to talk
about "joint problems we can ad-
THE ACTUAL strike began when
the combined groups, called the Black
Action Movement, "suddenly found a
call for a student strike,". Fabre said.
"We did not really expect that it
would happen. Suddenly by Monday,
we had a full-fledged boycott." He
estimates that about 3,000 students

and faculty actively participated in
the strike.
"We had plans, a list of demands,"
he said, "but we were not sure that
(the University) would ever get to
Fabre said that for about the first
week of class boycotts, "Fleming took
the position of 'Strike? What strike?'
But overall, he handled it very well,"
he said.
BATES remembers being im-
pressed that the president would "vir-
tually roll up his sleeves and go right
in to talk to the students.
"He understood the problems, and
he handled it in an admirable
fashion," Bates said.
Immediately following the announ-
cement that the strike had ended,
associate vice president Sudarkasa -
then known as Gloria Marshall -
said: "We say there can be no total
victory until the racist malignancy
either consumes this country or we
cut it out.°
"WE WILL fight on, because like all
mankind we hope, and because we are
arrogant enough to know we will
win," she said then.
Lockard credits the students with
the ability to mobilize such a
paralyzing movement. "Those
students were really heroes and
heroines," he said.
"They were the trend-setters. They

established a path for many more to
"THOSE students were activists.T,
They were idealists. Far more so than*
today. They were a little tougher," hey
"I would attribute the success of the,-
strike to the willingness and commit, ;
ment of the black students to make ;
sacrifices," he said.
People involved in the BAM striko,
agree that the administration needa
"a new push" today to achieve the a
goals set 15 years ago, Fabre said. ..
"The administration is not going te
volunteer to do something," he said.
But Bates said he does not see a{,
unified effort like the BAM strike as a.
"People are not concerned witfr Y
striking anymore," he said. "I do nok ,
know that it would be the thing to even- ,
attempt. In order to pull off something F;
like this, you would need people who ,
care about lots of things,
"But like most movements of this,
sort, I do not think we are back where,,
we were before the strike," Bates.
"We do not want to go back to wherev -,
we were."
This story first appeared in the.
March 20 edition of The Michigan"

'U' works to recruit minorities

Dfl5t {

(Continued from Page 1)
attention on what we're doing, what
we can do to make things better,"
Holmes said.
In addition, the admissions office
has focused on a personal approach to
recruit minority students, including
the Each One-Reach One program,
where University minority students
write letters and speak to prospective
minority students to recruit them.
"These last two years are starting
to show the fruits of our labor,"
Washington said.
RODERICK Linzie, the Michigan
Student Assembly's minority
enrollment researcher, said that "the
University of Michigan is very visible

because of the scholarly research ac-
tivities (aimed at minority students)
here." These include the Urban
Scholars program for Detroit high
school students and a long-term study
on black college students. He added
that the efforts of the Black Alumni
Association to recruit black students
may be contributing to the rise in
Holmes added that a
recently-approved financial aid in-
crease, which will filter $1.4 million
more into aid for minority students
over the next five years, will also help
increase enrollment. The money, he
said, is a commitment from the ad-
ministration to increase minority



"We felt that for a lot of reasons'
the fact that we did not reach our goal,:
in terms of minority students - the' W
University needed to make a majorad
statement about our commitment,',.
he said.
MANY PEOPLE, includings- w
Dave Robinson, assistant director of
admissions, question the University'
commitment. "I don't think the com4
mitment has come from the top," he-
said. "I think we could do a whole lot
In 1970, as a result of the Black Ac,
tion Movement Strike, the ada =,
ministration pledged to increase -
black enrollment to 10 percent by
1973. That goal was never met. "
Since the strike, enrollment fore:
Hispanics and Native Americarf
students - who are also underw r
represented minorities - has become
a University concern.
NEVERTHELESS, the University ";
has the second highest percentage ofm
minority students out of the Big Ten u
schools, behind only Northwesternm)*
University, according to a state studytc6
on higher education.
But Linzie said that these figureso
are nothing to be proud of. "Are them ')
other Big Ten schools under the same ml
geographical, historical, andY.
population (situations) as the Univerwq.
sity of Michigan? .i
"The fact that they don't sit outside a
places like Detroit ... we can't takeuG
pride in that we lead some othet- s
schools in attracting minorities," he(
said. a
WASHINGTON said there are i
number of reasons why minority
enrollment is decreasing nationwide, j
among them high drop-out rates in 'i
high schools and a turn toward two-
year trade schools. The problem may
also be partly due to "an increase in I
racism," she said.
"The climate of the country (
making it more tolerable to be
racist," Linzie said, and the Univer-
sity is no exception. "Yes, in a sense,
racism is increasing here as it is;I
across the country," but he added that '
"black students come to the Univer- +1
sity very aware that racism exists."
Robinson said that "students need
to realize that (racism) is a part of
society. This might as well be a lab"
for the outside world, he said.
BUT SUDARKASA said, "We must
be unequivocal in our condemnation
of racism," which may exist at the; I
In the University's continuing effort
to attract minority students, ad-
ministrators agree that minority and tI
majority faculty need to become in-
In addition, Sudarkasa said, "nom.
minority students, who are often the
first ones to jump up and down, I don't
think they've done as much as they
could to make the (University) en-
vironment a receptive one. 4

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