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November 24, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-11-24

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Monday, November 24, 1986

The Michigan Daily

i f

1

SMbr3irh4tigan Iaitlj
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Balanced

point

of

view

Vol. XCVII, No. 58

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board
All other cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

ecretary C
S ECRETARY OF EDUCATION
William Bennett has once again
hdicated his lack of compassion
for needy students. His latest
proposal, which he says will fight
The rising costs of college, would
result in an even tighter grip on
students already facing financial
difficulties. Bennett claims that
rising tuition, which has increased
up to 150 percent from 1975, is a
direct result of increased federal
financial aid. According to him,
colleges are confident that the
federal government's aid will
ensure students' ability to meet
escalating costs.
The Secretary's proposal requires
the elimination of federal subsidies
for student loans. Colleges and
other outside sources would be
soley responsible for supplying
-student aid.
The proposal also calls for longer
repayment terms on non-subsidized
loans at a lower interest rate.
Instead of extending the repayment
period to post graduation, when
students have higher paying jobs,
Bennett's proposal would start
students paying interest when they
receive their loans. Students
meeting immediate financial
robligations while attending school,
would have to simultaneously pay

f elimination
back part of the money that they
borrowed to get through school.
Bennett's consistent support of
student aid cuts, demonstrates
unacceptable behavior for someone
in his position. In 1985, he actively
endorsed President Reagan's
budget proposal calling for deep
funding cuts in higher education.
He called for limiting each student
to a $4000 cap on aid available
from all government sponsored
programs, including guaranteed
student loans and grants.
Considering the cost of college,
this proposal indicates that the
Secretary of Education is not
worried about extending education
to the poor. Extreme gaps in
educational opportunities for the
poor persist, and have increased
under the current administration.
Reforms may be needed in the
federal student assistance program,
but cutting the already meager
funding is not a constructive
solution. One of the primary
tenets of democracy-is the need for
an educated public. Bennett's elitist
attitudes are, unfortunately,
representative of an administration
that has shirked its responsibility
by keeping people, through
economic coercion, from access to
the options and benefits that come
with education.

By Alan Wald
Considerable controversy has
surrounded the recent Nov 1 to 10
Nicaraguan trip of 17 Ann Arbor citizens,
including myself, to commence
implementation of "Proposition A."
This ballot proposal was passed by the
city last April mandating the
establishment of Sister City relations
with Central American countries and
calling for an end to U.S. support of the
Nicaraguan Contras who are out to
overthrow the elected government led by
the Sandinista National Liberation Front
(FSLN).
Hardly had Ann Arbor's Sister City
Delegation left the United States on its
journey to our Sister City in Juigalpa,
Nicaragua, when a smear campaign
against the delegation's activities and
objectives was launched. A Nov. 4
Detroit News editorial claimed that the
delegation was a "junket" comprised of
"moon-eyed Utopians" en route to "sip
cocktails" with Nicaraguan president
Daniel Ortega. Upon the delegation's
return, University Political Science
Professor Raymond Tanter charged in the
Nov. 16 Ann Arbor News that the group
had failed to make inquiries about alleged
human rights violations in Nicaragua.
And several letters to the Ann Arbor
News, such as the one by Chris Coatney
in the same Nov. 16 issue, asserted that
the killing of civilians near Juigalpa on
Nov. 7 might have been staged by the
FSLN to impress the naive delegation
unfamiliar with "the communist state of
mind."
None of those making such wild and
unfounded accusations ever bothered to
contact the delegation first-hand, in order
to learn our authentic views and the
nature of our activities in Nicaragua.
This is because the purpose of the smear
campaign is not to engage in a dialogue
on the issues, but to put into circulation
a series of slanders that will prejudice the
public's mind even before the delegation
members have a chance to present our
point of view.
The "line" of this smear campaign
comes directly from the U.S. State
Department, which has been exposed
numerous times for spreading
disinformation about the situation in
Nicaragua. The two "big lies" coming
from the Reagan administration are that
the FSLN has instituted a "totalitarian"
regime, and that that the Contra gang of
criminals, mercenaries, terrified peasants,
upper-class landowners and former
Somoza National Guardsmen are to be
regarded as "the moral equivalent of the
Founding Fathers." In order to keep the
U.S. president from being laughed out of
the White House for such preposterous
assertions, it is crucial that those
undertaking a first-nand investigation of
the situation be discredited in advance.
In the present , the claims of the
Detroit News an. Pr fessor Tanter are
replete with factual .;iatrtions. The trip,
of course, was not a "junket;" we all
made the personal sacrifice of financing
the trip ourselves, to insure the
Wald is a professor of English at
the University and Coordinator of
Faculty for Human Rights in Central
Americaa. He was a member of the
November 1-10 Sister City Delegation
to Juigalpa, Nicaragua.

independence of our thinking and not'
drain resources that might go to the
people of Juigalpa. Moreover, we did not
"sip cocktails" with Ortega -- although
we did stand in a crowd of many
thousands in the hot sun in 90 degree
weather listening for several hours to a
fairly boring speech of his. Instead, we
stayed in extremely modest
accommodations, drank mostly the
common run of beer, and personally
interacted with several hundred
Nicaraguans from all walks of life and
many different political points of view.
During the course of our visit the
delegation heard lectures by U.S. citizens
doing first-hand research on the political,
economic and human rights situation. In
Managua we interviewed high-ranking
government officials in the ministries of
health, education, foreign affairs, and in
the National Assembly. In Juigalpa we
met with officials of the city, the
departments of health and education, the
Sandinista Defense Committee, and the
government of Region 5. In both places
we also talked with doctors, teachers,
businessmen, priests, Catholic activists,
soldiers, workers, journalists, peasants,
and many others.
We also took special measures to
maximize the chances of our receiving a
balanced view. We held special sessions
with representatives of La Prensa (the
temporarily banned newspaper), the
Conservative Democratic Party (the
largest single opposition group in the
National Assembly), the U. S. Embassy
(which presented the same "line" we hear
in the present smear campaign), and El
Nuevo Diario ( an independent daily
newspaper). At times we changed our
schedule and showed up unannounced at
various locations, such as a Sunday mass
at the church of Obando y Bravo (a critic
of the FSLN). We also would suddenly
disperse into small groups and go out of
our way to seek people critical of the
government. When talking with U.S.
citizens, including a good number of Ann
Arborites, some of whom have spent
years in Nicaragua, we grilled them
thoroughly about what they had seen and
heard in regard to human rights and
political freedom. Our group had half a
dozen translators, in addition to the
official ones (a Presbyterian activist
couple from the U.S.) whom we hired, so
we could check any mistranslations on
the spot. Finally, in our dealings with
FSLN representatives, we challenged
them at every point and even had some
sharp debates about their relations with
the Soviet Union. All of this has been
recorded on video, on tape recordings, in
photographs, journals and newspaper
reportage.
The official report signed by the 17
Ann Arbor delegates - a diverse group
including Democrats, Christians, atheists,
businessmen, school officials, a
Republican, an anarchist, a socialist, a
priest, etc. - is a carefully worded
statement that presents a thoughtful and
balanced assessment of the present
situation in Nicaragua. I believe the
members of the delegation can defend that
common statement, if given a fair
hearing, although we all have our
individual views on various other matters.
Certainly there is not a member of the
delegation who does not have important
criticisms of the Nicaraguan government.
The argument that the Contra attack
on civilians near Juigalapa was "staged"

by the FSLN, and that we blindly nodded
our heads in agreement with whatever we
were told about such matters, is an
example of Reaganite disinformation
being spread on the local level. We
delegates knew that the U.S. State
Department had made such claims before
our departure. At the U.S. embassy in
Managua we demanded documentary,
information to the effect that even one
single Contra attack had been investigated
and proven to have been a FSLN frame-
up; the embassy could not give us a
single example. In Juigalpa we
interrogated the Vice-President of Region
5 as well as young people who had had
their arms and legs blown off by Contra
weapons; they pointed out that witnesses
to attacks had identified the Contras
operating in the region - the names of the
leaders were known and they were being
pursued.

4

4

Moreover, even if one assumes that
these maimed young people were lying
out of fear or because of "the communist
state of mind;" what would have been the
value of the FSLN killing one of its own
most respected leaders, Alfonso Nunez,
on the day before the mass celebration of
the 25?anniversary of the founding of the
FSLN? The purpose of that celebration
was for the Nicaraguan government to
display its military might and bolster the
confidence of the people in their struggle
to halt the U.S.-backed Contra invasion.
The fact is that the murder of Nunez
(whose car also contained a driver and
several passengers getting a lift into
Juigalpa) at that moment was a
demoralizing blow to the FSLN. The
Contras had wanted to get someone big at
that crucial time in order to prove that
they are earning their hundreds of
millions of dollars from the U.S. It
seems to me that it would hardly have
been worth this sacrifice in regard to the
morale of the whole nation just to
"impress" a group of U.S. citizens who
had already read the documentation of
hundreds of Contra atrocities in the
literature of Human Rights organizations
such as America's Watch. And why
would the FSLN leaders, who are
scrupulously being watched by critics all
over the world for a slip that would
discredit them, take the unnecessary risk
of being caught at such a Machiavellian
act and losing their moral authority? And
what about the fact that a week later the
New York Times reporter in Nicaragua
reported the event as without question a
Contra attack? Is he an FSLN dupe as
well?
Of course, it is "theoretically
possible" that the whole incident was
staged. It is also "theoretically possible"
that the U.S. embassy official we met
was actually a KGB agent out to,
manipulate us. And it is even
"theoretically possible" that our bus never
actually took us toJuigalpa - but instead
to an artificial city rapidly constructed for
our benefit and filled with clever Cubans
disguised as Nicaraguans.
Anyone who fails to take into account
at some level the human potential for
deviousness certainly suffers from a
deficiency of imAgination. But those who
elevate the "theoretical possibility" of the
highly unlikely, improbable, and
irrational into a serious argument are only
exposing their inability to make a
convincing case for their point of view in
the realm of the possibile.

SS TUDENTS HA VE BE EN
:demanding that the regents and the
,University administration increase
'financial aid for minority students
Sfor good reason.
This year, the University has
heralded increased minority
:enrollment with a record 699
minority freshpersons. Black
~enrollment has increased from 5.2
:to 5.3 percent, Hispanic enrollment
vfrom 1.8 to 2.0 percent, and Asian
'enrollment has increased from 4.5
:to 5.0 percent this year. While on
Sthe whole these figures indicate
~progress, they just are not adequate
for a University with the resources
available here. It is important to
rec ognize that initial recruitment
efforts appeal to minority students
by offering a first year
comprehenisve tuition package.
After that first year, the aid
packages diminish while the
financial status of minority students
does not increase. Considering.
*cuts in aid, it is no wonder that the
'mi nority attrition rate at the
University is so high. Only 29.4
percent of blacks who enter the
University earn degrees in four
years, while over 50 percent of
whites and Asian Amnericans will
graduate in that same time period.
Historically, 85 percent of all
*minority students have relied upon
need based financial aid, as
1compared with approximately 62
percent of all majority students.
Since 1977-78, yearly increases in
the self-help component.(loans and
or employment) of aid packages
have led to increased borrowing
and employment; self-help relative
to total cost has not increased,

iinority aid

Growth in grant-in-aid funding has
lagged, too, and high need students
have suffered.
The University has taken some
steps to redress these problems.
Two years ago, it realized that it
would lose qualified minority
students if it didn't expand merit
awards. As a result, the Michigan
Achievement Award (MAA) has
increased dollar amounts; this is a
positive step but insufficient in
relation to how many minorities it
actually affects. The University
has hired two counselors who
specialize in minority financial aid
counseling and has recognized that
relative absence of minority faculty
members on campus depresses
retention and recruitment rates.
The University would do well to
incorporate the ideas behind the
Four Point Plan, proposed
especially through the efforts of the
Black Student Union and former
Michigan Student Assembly
Minority Affairs Researcher,
Roderick Linzie. Under the plan,
minority students would qualify for
substantial aid packages after their
first year if they meet certain
academic standards.
Since the Black Action
Movement (BAM) strikes of 1970,
when the University appeased
protestors by promising 10 percent
black enrollment by 1973 , the
Unversity has still not met this
goal.
The University may once again
try to appease protestors but such
an approach would only sell the
University short. If the University
truly wants to increase minority

Wasserman

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