The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1986-- Page 3B
U' avoids taking political stands
Daily Photo by MATT PETRIE
A comedy troup specializing in arms race humor performs on the Diag
last April Fools Day. The group came to campus to protest "Star Wars"
W tude ns oppose
research for military
By REBECCA BLUMENSTEIN
University students protest for a
multitude of reasons, but all protests
have a similar theme; studenttac-
tivists want the University to take
stances on social issues, but ad-
ministrators are unwilling.
From the students' point of view,
the University is losing an oppor-
tunity to take "honorable" stances on
political issues. University backing
would do much to further such
national causes as opposing the
Strategic Defense Initiative.
But in the past year, students have
unsuccessfully urged the University
to completely divest its investments
in companies that do business in
South Africa, grant jailed South
African activist Nelson Mandela an
honorary degfree, stop conducting
SDI research, and ban recruitment by
the Central Intelligence Agency on
Administrators say it's inap-
propriate for the University to take
such stances. "The University is a
By MARY CHRIS JAKLEVIC
In the 1960s, the University's
political and social activism markedf
it as a capital of dissent among
Since then, dissent has been a part
of University life, although activism,
today is seldom as bold or as
widespread as it was in the late '60s
and early '70s. Then, Ann Arbor
rarely saw a day without demon-
strations against national policies,,
social practices or University
In the early '60s the issue was racial;
discrimination. Prompted by the
black civil rights movement, par-,
ticularly the sit-in by four black
students at a whites-only lunch coun-
ter in North Carolina, students in the1
north picketed stores whose southern
branches followed segregation,
customs. In Ann Arbor several
students were arrested for handingr
out leaflets while picketing stores ac-
cused of discrimination.
Inspired by this movement andl
enraged by the hypocrisy they saw in1
American society, a small group of
University students formed what
became the most influential national
white student group of the decade,
Students for a Democratic Society
place to foster new ideas, not to take a
definite stand on them," said Virginia
Nordby, director of the University's
Affirmative Action office and an ad-
visor to the University's President.
Administrators are also concerned
that the stands espoused by student
activists may not reflect a consensus
of the University community.
Another factor is economics.
Because the University receives
many contributions from alumni and
corporations, administrators are
wary of offending supporters.
Regent James Waters (D-
Muskegon), acknowledges that
divestment was delayed partly out of
concern of offending corporations.
Some stances taken
Dan Sharphorn, assistant policy
advisor to Nordby, says that while the
University is unwilling. to take stan-
ces on most issues, "it has shown that
it will not let anything interfere with
an individual's rights."
Sharphorn points to a 1984 regents'
policy barring discrimination against
homosexuals, as a "bold move"
protecting individual rights.
The University also passed a con-
troversial resolution last October
supporting University faculty who
'The University is a place to foster new
ideas, not to take a definite stand on them.'
-Virginia Nordby, director
of Affirmative Action
By ROB EARLE
When University researchers sub-
mitted $183 in research proposals to
the defense department last winter,
some protested that the University is
becoming dependent on the military.
The proposed projects were part of
Congress' University Research
Initiative, designed to revitalize the
nation's . research universities
through Department of Defense
In July, the defense department ac-
cepted three of the University's
proposals, at least tripling military
research on campus.
URI is only the latest issue that
has divided activists with ad-
ministrators on the role of the
military in University research.
Defense research increasing
In 1984-85, the University did nearly
$7 million in defense-related resear-
ch, about five percent of the Univer-
sity's total research budget, accor-
ding to Allan Price, the University's
associate vice president for research.
That figure, he said, is expected to
grow by $560,000 in 1985-86, not in-
cluding URI funds.
The increases mean different
things to different people. According
to Linda Wilson, the growth is
relatively insignificant because
military research will still be only
five percent of University research.
Activists, though, say any growth in
defense research is unacceptable,
not to mention such large increases as
URI funds. "University officials have
chosen to misrepresent their actions
to secure weapons research funds,"
wrote Ingrid Kock, the Michigan
Student Assembly's military resear-
Kock was referring to an April 15
letter to the Daily, in which Vice
President Wilson wrote that there is
services *l yS
"no. . . University administration
commitment to increase the fraction
of DoD (Department of Defense)
Wilson and Price, though, assert
that individual faculty members and
not the administration secure resear-
ch funds. They attribute the increase
in defense department research to the
greater emphasis placed on military
research - by the Reagan ad-
In addition to opposing defense
research because of its military ap-
plications, groups like Campuses
Against Weapons in Space (CAWS)
and the Michigan Alliance for Disar-
mament (MAD), also say the in-
creasing reliance on defense funds
compromises the University's
autonomy, making it more succep-
table to DoD control.
Projects like URI and the Strategic
Defense Initiative (SDI) are likely to
be controlled by the military, critics
say. URI projects, for example, must
be related to the "mission" of the
agency funding it-for example, the
While Wilson has expressed con-
cern over concentrating federal
research funds in the Department of
Defense, she doesn't see an im-
mediate threat to the - University's
autonomy. In the case of URI, Wilson
said that the military simply ad-
ministers the funds and does not
supervise the projects.
Wilson, though, said that SDI is a
potential threat to university resear-
ch. The concentration on high
technology and space that SDI
presents weakens the nation's
research in other areas, Wilson told
the American Association for the Ad-
vancement of Science last srping.
See 'U,' Page 7
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choose to do SDI-related research.
Anti-SDI activists were infuriated,
by what they considered indirect sup
port for the controversial program.
But University President Harold-
Shapiro defended the resolution as
merely "a recapitulation of our,
current policy. That is to let our.
professors make their own decisions.
as long as it follows our research
Regents felt campus protesters
were pressuring researchers against
Although most conflicts seem to
center between the administration
and students, faculty also play a role:,-
"It's a matter of checks and balances
between the faculty, the ad-
ministration, and the students," said
William Stebbens, chairman of the
faculty's Senate Advisory Committee
on University Affairs (SACUA).
"When the students or the faculty'
raises an especially good point about
when the University should take g
stand," administrators usually take it
into consideration, he said.
In the early '60s SDS consisted of a
few. middle to upper class white
males. They expressed thier
dissatisfaction with American values
through the Port Huron Statement
which condemned racial and social
inequality, bureaucracy, militarism
and imperialism of the United States.
This statement, often called one of the
most important documents of the
decade, reflected the growing
dissatisfaction of American youth,
which was fermenting on campuses
across the country.
Unlike other student efforts, SDS
did not stop at the city limits. The
group sought to form chapters on
other campuses and to have a direct
hand in curing America's social ills.
SDS members such as Tom Hayden
went to live, in poor black com-
munities, and SDS sponsored a nation-
wide project, based in Ann Arbor,
which provided legal counseling and
financial resources to encourage im-
poverished urban Americans to seek
political and economic clout.
Todd Gitlin, a sociology professor at
the University of California-Berkeley,
was a member and president of SDS
from 1963 until 1965. Gitlin said SDS
activities made the University known
as a center of political activism, and it
was the chance to get involved in SDS*
that lured him to the University for
"The reason Ann Arbor was critical
(as a center of activism) was not just
that people were politically active.
(SDS founders) self-consciously saw
themselves as trying to (create) a
role in'60s protests
national organization," he said.
Focus on Vietnam
A dramatic change, both for the
country and SDS, came in 1965, when
the U.S. bombed North Vietnam. SDS
shifted its focus from civil rights mat-
ters opposing the U.S.'s deepening
involvement in Southeast Asia.
See 'U,' Page 6
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