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September 04, 1986 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-04

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- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1986 - Page 7

Special orientation helps
minorities adjust to 'U'

st Y/


Ron Sharc and Deborah Refsch call for the prosecution of a University student accused of vandalizing the Diag
Shanty suffers repeated attacks

Making the transition from high
school to college is difficult for
everyone. Yet, on a campus where
only 11.5 percent of all un-
dergraduates are minority students,
adapting to the tougher academic
pressure and the new environment
may be even more challenging.
A special orientation today
in the Michigan Union.
Ballroom will welcome minority'
students to the University, and in-
troduce them to the various programs
and services available to help them
succeed here.
The event is being sponsored by the
University Office of Academic Af-
fairs, the Comprehensive
Studies/Opportunity program,
Minority Student Services, and the
Michigan Student Assembly.
Roderick Linzie, a research associate
with the Comprehensive Studies/Op-
portunity Program, is the main per-
son behind the event which was
created last year. Linzie said the
orientation will try to "greet students
and make them feel welcome and
comfortable at the University." It
also tries to "foster a more supportive
atmosphere for minority students."
He added that the theme of the event
will be, "Conceive, Believe, and
Achieve; the Standard Shall be Ex-
Although the orientation is
primarily for minority students, Lin-
zie said all students are welcome. He
expects at least 300 students to take
part this year, about the same num-
ber that participated last fall.
Incoming minority freshmen and
transfer students will find out about
the special orientation through an
agenda of the event and invitations
mailed directly to their homes this
Linzie said the format of the event
will be nearly the same as last year,
which he called "very successful."
Students will be welcomed by Univer-
sity President Harold Shapiro and the
Assistant Vice President for
Academic Affairs, Robert Holmes, as
well as an official from the Michigan

Student Assembly. The students will
also be introduced to minority faculty
and staff from the various minority
programs at the University.
Linzie said musical entertainment
and refreshments will be provided
while students talk informally with
each other and the faculty and staff.
Later on, students will be divided into
smaller groups facilitated by
minority peer advisors. In these
smaller groups, students will be given
the chance to ask specific questions
about the various minority activities
and programs which will be available
to them throughout the year.

Making students aware
Barbara ; Robinson, the Black Afro-
American Representative for
Minority Student Services, said that
the orientation has helped to make
minority students more aware of the
many services available to them. She
added that, "once the students meet
these individuals face to face they
become more apt to use the services
at the various offices." Robinson said
the Office of Minority Student Ser-
vices in the Michigan Union assists
students by acting as liason to other
See MINORITY, Page 18

The shanty on the Diag was built to protest apartheid.
That stance has made the five-by-seven foot shanty a laun-
chpad of student activism and the object of repeated at-.
Built out of scrap wood, sheets of tin, and volunteer
labor, the shanty is a model of the homes in which blacks
are forced to live in South Africa. It's creator, the Free
South Africa Coordinating Committee (FSACC), erected
the shanty on March 21 for a national two weeks of college
protest against apartheid.
FSACC members say it will remain on the Diag until'
apartheid is abolished.
Center of apartheid protests-
In June FSACC held a vigil on the Diag commemorating
the tenth anniversay of the Soweto uprising in South
Africa. About 200 local residents attended the candle-light
service in front of the shanty.
The day after the vigil, FSACC staged a protest at the
Washtenaw County COurthouse when the county
prosecutor was forced to drop charges against a Univer-
sity student, LSA junior Francis Reagan, who
Was caught tearing some boards off the shanty in May.
County prosecutor William Delhey had dropped the case
because, under state law, charges of malicious destruc-
tion cannot be prosecuted unless the person raising the
charges can prove monetary loss, and FSACC was unable
to provise proper receipts for the shanty's lumber.
Case reopened
After the protest, however, the city reopened the case
_ under the city's malicious destruction ordinance. The or-
dinance does not require proof of monetary damage.
Reagan was arraigned in July, and pleaded no contest
to the charges.
Delgado said he pursued the case because he is in-
terested in preventing future attacks on the shanty - it
has been completely torn down and rebuilt at last three
"I don't know the degree to which prosecuting someone
would discourage others," said FSACC member Hector
Delgado, after he exerted pressure on city attornies to
reopen the case. "Not prosecuting would have more im-
pact; that would encourage people a lot more," he said.
But the University's shanty is not unlike similar sym-
bols against apartheid around the country that have suf-
fered abuse. A shanty of Johns Hopkins University was
doused with gasoline and set ablaze last June.
, And in February, 12 student members of Dartmouth

University's conservative newspaper bulldozed several
shanties on the Dartmouth campus.
The students who flattened the shanties complained
they were "eyesores." The South African government has
also destroyed many shanties, labeling them eyesores.
Why vandalized
But people studying why the structures have ignited
such violent reactions say that there is more than
aesthetic reasons involved.
The most common theory is that the shanty is victim of
drunken and rowdy behavior from people walking through
the Diag late at night.
"At one, two, and three o'clock in the morning, coming
back from a bar or a party, the shanty may become a
challenge (to vandals)," said Leo Heatley, the Univer-
sity's director of public safety.
Reagan told the Ann Arbor News that he had been
drinking excessively the night he was chased down by
security guards for tearing some boards off the shanty.
"On one end, there's just some guys who came back
drunk, it's an inviting target, they're trying to prove their
manhood," Delgado said. "Others I'm sure are just
bigots-put the two together and that's when it gets flat-
Some members of FSACC believe that the attacks are
racially motivated. For instance, Delgado said that
people would walk by the shanty when FSACC was staf-
fing it and yell remarks like, "nigger shack."
"I think it's a racist attack whether it's by a drunken act
or a deliberate act by a sober person," said Barbara Ran-
sby, a leader of the FSACC. "Even someone who does it as
a joke, knowing what the shanty symbolizes, is obviously
not very sympathetic to anti-racist ideas."
Others, like sociology prof. Andre Modigliani, who
teaches a course in phycchological deviance and abnor-
mal behavior, think the attacks stem from a vandal's
anger or ambivalence about the shanty and the issue it
"He's not doing more to help and is busy with other
things, leaving him with an unresolved ambivalence,"
Modigliani said. "Then someone throws up a shanty which
in turn irritates this feeling."
Modigliani also said that peer pressure may be to blame
for the vandalism because students sometimes get
together and "egg each other on" to do something daring.
In such a situation, racism or prejudice may have nothing
to do with why the shanty was attacked.
"You can put him in a different context, and he might be
building shanties,' Modigliani said.

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