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December 04, 1987 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-12-04

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4

OPINION

Page 4 -

Friday, December 4, 1987

The Michigan Daily

Not

enough qualified Black applicants

Peer
By Peter 0. Steiner
The Daily editorial of December 1 calling
for my apology accuses me of being
"particularly offensive," utilizing a "racist
argument" and engaging in "victim blaming
rather than committing the University to
address the real problem" of increasing
representation of Blacks at our faculty.
There are, I believe, three separable
questions: 1) Has there been a decline in
Black enrollment in colleges and
Universities in recent years that is a cause of
concern? The answer is yes. 2) If so, are
there multiple causes - I emphasize the
plural - and how do they interact? I believe
the answer is yes, and that these interactions
are important. 3) Is it offensive to explore
the second questions and suggest possible
causes? I am certain the answer is no.
1. The facts.
In 1985 only 26 percent of Black high
school graduates entered college, down from
Peter Steiner is the Dean of the college of
rSA.

34 percent in 1976. Blacks comprised only
4.2 percent of all students in graduate and
professional schools in 1982, down from 5.1
percent six years earlier. The under-
representation is particularly bleak in the
physical sciences, and gets worse the higher
the level of education studied. For example,
Blacks received only 4 percent of Bachelor
degrees in physical sciences, only 2 percent
of Masters degrees, and only 1 percent of
Ph.Ds. Ph.Ds constitute the group among
which College and University faculty
members are recruited.
The College of LSA and the University
ire addressing this real problem, and we are
leeply concerned about it. Progress occurs
painfully slowly, but it cannot become rapid
on the national level until we increase the
numbers of Blacks going from high school
to college, from college to graduate school
and from graduate school into the scholarly
professions.
2. The causes.
There is always room for differing
hypotheses about causes. In my view there

are many reasons why there are so few
Blacks "in the pool" of available persons to
hire in University faculties. These multiple
reasons are interrelated, but surely include all
of poverty, prejudice and absence of role
models. Compounding the problems is the
distressing national evidence that many
qualified Blacks are not choosing to take
advantage of the expanded educational
opportunities that are available to them -
whether in going from high school to
college, from college to graduate school, or
from graduate school into the scholarly
professions.
It is possible to argue that none of this is
a matter of Blacks' attitudes, but is all a
matter of discrimination and lack of effort on
the part of the white establishment. I do not
believe that to be true, and have seen no
evidence to demonstrate it. Most serious
observers believe that attitudes of individuals
and of society play important roles. Let me
hypothesize why that may be.
A great deal of education has to be taken
on faith by the potential student, for it takes

trust in the educational system and the
society to believe the investment of time,
energy, emotion, and financial sacrifice will
pay off someday. That trust must be gener-
ated jointly by the efforts of the relevant
institutions and by the influence of the
family, community, and neighborhood.
Absence of a supportive value structure has
been known to be inhibiting for a long time,
and I believe it is an important factor in the
picture now.
Why do we care about the causes? To
solve a problem one must understand it. If
there are five or ten contributing causes, we
will wish to attack all five to ten. The
statistical shrinkage of "the pool" has
occurred despite increased affirmative action
efforts and increased financial investments in
minority student aid and recruiting. Along
,vith more of the same we must understand
d attempt to deal with all barriers or
inhibiting factors. It is not a matter of
assigning blame, but of identifying where
remedial efforts may pay off.

3. Is discussion of causes "offensive"?
Offense occurs in the eyes of the beholder.
In a University any hypothesis must be open
for discussion, confirmation if it is valid,
and refutation if it false. The implication
that one should be apologetic for raising a
relevant possibility, or expressing belief in
its validity, is one I absolutely reject.
Let me be explicit. I did not say that there
were not many causes of underrepresentation
of minorities on our faculty, nor that we at
the University have done as much as we can
do to increase Black participation. We are
working actively on a number of fronts, and
achieving some success, person by person. I
did not say attitudes were the only, or most
important deterrent to more rapid progress,
but three are - in my view - clearly a
contributing factor. To neglect such a
possibility - to label it unspeakable - is
to prevent the search for understanding that
is concomitant to solving every social
problem.

I

I

Pursell should answer constituents or resign

By Michael B. Fitzgibbon
The tactics of Congressmember Carl
Pursell for dealing with criticism of his
Central American policy have changed little
since he redbaited his opponent in the last
election, and slandered protesters he said
"decimated" his office. This time, he used an
interview published by the Ann Arbor News
("Pursell won't take stand on Contra aid,"
10/30/87) to spread more falsehood.
During the interview, he reacted to criti-
cism of his role in boosting U.S. business
relationships with Honduras by declaring,
"...I don't know what the people against in-
vestment are for. Marxism? Socialism? I
don't know." He was referring to a group
demonstrating outside of the Campus Inn at
the time of a meeting he helped arrange be-
tween a Honduran trade delegation and area
businesses (Ann Arbor News 10/21/87).
Available outside, and distributed inside the
meeting was a statement from the demon-
strators directed to the Honduran delegation
which began:
"Welcome to Ann Arbor, a city which is
proud 'of its various ties, both official and
unofficial, with our sisters and brothers in
Central America. We therefore applaud this
initiative by the Ann Arbor Chamber of
Commerce to acquaint area business people
with opportunities for trade and commerce
with Honduras and the city of San Pedro
Sula."
If Carl Pursell had read this would he have
been able to claim the demonstrators were
against investment? Marxist? Socialist? Ig-
noring his constituents is not a new tactic
for Pursell, either. Over three years ago he
promised a public hearing on Central Amer-
ica, a commitment he still refuses to honor.
This ignorance seems to serve Pursell since
Michael B. Fitzgibbon is a member of
LASC and AMISTAD.

he can then attribute to his critics motives
which are untrue. I believe it also allowsi
him t recognize and answer only to input on
the issue he receives from the Party led by
the Reagan administration.+
Turning the truth around may by another+
thing Pursell has learned from the Reaganl
administration. In this same interview, he1
claims, "I've asked these critic groups in thei
past for specific initiatives they think should;
be taken for Central American.... But their
only initiative is to get the U.S. out of
Central America." Kim Groome of the In-
terfaith Council for Peace, and the Coalition
for Arms Control disputes this. She said,
"There was a time we were ready to discuss
specific points, but he (Pursell) wasn't
interested."
The whole context of this statement by
Pursell is dubious, as well, The cessation of
all Contra aid is an important tenet of one
such specific initiative known as the "Arias
Peace Plan." Though Pursell supports it in
name, he will not take a stand on Contra aid.
What good would it do to suggest to him an
initiative like that proposed by Food First:
The Institute for Food and Development
Policy?
Food First advocates the development of a
society from the bottom up by allowing
people the means to take care of their basic
needs so they can begin leading more digni-
fied lives. Those capable, and interested in
becoming middle-class will develop from an
egalitarian society.
Food First is not a dole, nor is it an indi-
rect strategy of investing in already overde-
veloped sectors of a society with the hope
they they might "trickle-down" some wealth
to the majority of the people. There is a
time and place for both tactics, but neither
can be the focus of development. The latter
"investment" strategy is what Pursell is
boosting with the Caribbean Basin Initia-

tive. It gives a benign facade while protect-
ing the status quo.
In brief, Food First would involve such
practical changes as the redistribution of un-
derutilized land, some substitution of
domestically consumed products for exports,
loans for small farmers, basic education,
health care, etc. Essentially, it means focus-
ing on the development of the people, in-
stead of their resources. This is precisely
what the present Nicaraguan government has
tried to offer its people in spite of various
forms of aggression mounted against it from
the outside.
The changes outlined above do not always
come about with the willing participation of
those in power. As a result, we see the
struggles occurring within Guatemala, El
Salvador, Honduras, and that between
Nicaragua and the U.S. The people in this
region are caught between poverty, and the
cult of terror which, de facto, rules these
countries. When the jaws close, violence
erupts, people die, and always, the poor suf-
fer. In implicating the U.S. government in
this, I appeal to the authority of the follow-
ing statement by David M. Shoup, Com-
mandant U.S. Marine Corps 1960-63:
"I believe that if we had and would keep
out dirty, bloody dollar soaked fingers out of
the business of these nations so full of de-
pressed exploited people, they will arrive at a
solution of their own...and if unfortunately
their revolution must be of a violent type
because the 'haves' refuse to share with the
'have-nots' by any peaceful method, at least
what they get will be their own, and not the
American style which they don't want and
above all don't want crammed down their
throats by Americans."
Are these the words of someone against
investment? A Marxist? A socialist? Per-
haps, they are the words of experience and
realism?

While putting words in out mouth in the
course of the interview in question, Pursell
asks, rhetorically, what we are for, or what
specific initiatives need to be taken. As a
member of two local groups in solidarity,
with the people of Central America, I would
like to jump at this chance for public dia-
logue with Representative Pursell, as slim
as it may be. I suggest we are for Carl
Pursell not saying, (he) "...continues to
work for improving the lives of Central
Americans...," while at the same time
maintaining a record of support in Congress
for aid to the Contras, and military aid to the
oppressive regimes controlling El Salvador,
Guatamala, and Honduras.
The reminds me of the common sense ob-
servation of Central American peasant I
talked to last June in the northern
Nicaraguan village of Las Colinas. His
house, with those of 33 of his neighbors,
had just been destroyed by the Contras. He
said of the U.S., "They give us milk, and a
knife in the back." I think he meant Pursell
can keep his "investment," along with his
Contra and military aid.
The problem Pursell has with reality, in
this instance, is not his charge that there are
nationally organized strategies occurring in
his district. The issue is national, and obvi-
ously necessitates national organization.
(Though, the implication is that he is being
attacked by large alien interest groups.) The
only thing remarkable about these national
strategies is their lack of finance and person-
nel, and that they were so long in coming.
Pursell should know, if he does not al-
ready, that almost all Central American ac-
tions by local political groups were origi-
nated, conducted, and financed locally, in-
cluding the Campus Inn demonstration and
the vigil at the Pursell office referred to in
the Ann Arbor News article. National orga-
nizing, when possible, is a positive at-

tribute, and is never denied by any of these
groups. Since, neither Pursell, nor his Ann
Arbor office would mention a specific group
guilty of this practice, I contacted SANE and
Neighbor to Neighbor, two prominent local
groups with national affiliations, and also
working on the issue of Contra aid. The
both stated that their canvassers are in-
structed to say, immediately upon introduc-
ing themselves, that they are part of a na-
tional campaign. Furthermore, at the time
they began organizing in the Second Dis-
trict, they each notified the Pursell office of
their purpose and nature.
These groups do no tell people what to
think, either. They try to provide informa-
tion alternative to that coming from the
Reagan administration which is trumpeted
across the from page of every major U.S.
media. Pursell must have very little respect
for his constituents to believe that such an
effort threatens their ability to decide for
themselves what they will believe.
What Pursell may be having difficulty ac-
cepting is that the local groups which have
organized around this issue for years are
having success in bringing pressure to bear
on him. His response is to falsely accuse
them of something for which le may be the
most culpable. That is, I doubt that he
turned away money from national political
action committees in -his last election
wherein he outspent his opponents by four
to one. So, who controls Pursell? I am
sure it is not his constituents who poll
sixty-five percent against Contra aid, while
Pursell always votes for it.
If Carl Pursell cannot deal squarely with
his critics, if he cannot meet in public with
his constituents, if he is unable to confront
the moral issue of Central America, and if he
cannot tell the simple truth, then he must

LETTERS

Edited ^nd managed by students at The University of Michigan

4

Administration breaks promises

Vol. XCVIII, No. 60

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.
Faiwell vs. free speech

THE SUPREME Court is currently
hearing a case involving the Rev.
Jerry Falwell's claim of emotional
distress against controversial
publisher Larry Flynt. While the case
may seem an inconsequential battle of
egos, the heart of the issue is a
significant First Amendment
question.
The case stems from a parody of
ads for Campari, an apertif, in Flynt's
magazine Hustler. The ad insinuated
that Falwell had incestuous relations
with his mother. Underneath the
mock ad, the magazine printed "Ad

court decision to order a defendant to
pay damages while finding that party
innocent of libel.
The case has evolved into not only a
sometimes humorous clash o f
ideologies, but an important
discussion of satirists' versus public
figures' rights.
Although Hustler advances
deplorably ignorant attitudes and the
exploitation of women, and even
Flynt admits that the satire was in
"bad taste," the courts should
continue to uphold First Amendment
rights. If Falwell were to win this

To the Daily:
On 11/19/87 the Daily
reported the latest figures on
minority enrollment at U-M:
Asians now constitute 5.6
percent of the student
population and for the first
time have surpassed Blacks as
the largest minority group on
campus.
The University's 15 year-old
promise of 10 percent Black
enrollment has remained just
that - a promise. Efforts to
recruit Black students have
remained weak and ineffectual.
Recruitment of Hispanic and
Native Americans has also
fallen short and failed to
produce significant increases in
enrollment. The current
situation belies t h e
University's a 11 e g e d
commitment to diversity.
Although Asian enrollment
is increasing, the Asian student
population on campus is hardly
representative of Asian-

is a privilege of only the rich.
Meanwhile, t h e
administration has ignored the
problems and needs of the
increasing Asian student
population. For years,
students have lobbied for the
creation of a Korean language
program at the University and
have been turned down. Efforts
to start an Asian-American
Studies department have met
with similar resistance.
Presently, the University offers
only one course on Asian-
American issues and has yet to
hire a single permanent faculty
member to teach such courses.
There is not a single Asian-
American counselor at the
Counseling Services when
there are over one thousand
Asian-American students
whose problems differ from
their white peers'. The annual
funding for Asian-American
events at Minority Student
Services remains $2000--a

"overrepresented" on campus
and the creation of limits on
Asian admissions. It has been
shown that schools such as
Berkeley, Stanford, Brown and
Princeton have instituted caps
on Asian enrollment. The
admissions board at Michigan
must make sure it does not
start to emulate other school's
racist admissions policies.
The model minority myth is
also often used to encourage
tension between Asians and
other minorities; Asian-
Americans' so-called success is
used as "proof" that other
minoritie's lack of success is
their own doing and lot
because of the society's racist
bias. In reality, Asians, as
people of color in
predominantly white society,
suffer from discrimination and
racism along with other
minority groups. Census

figures show that, for the same
level of education and other
qualifications, Asian
Americans earn between 15-50
percent less than whites.
Asian enrollment should not
be viewed as increasing at the
expense of other minorities.
The current enrollment figures
for people of color do not
change the fact that the
University does not adequately
serve the needs of either
students of color or our
communities.
Representing the University
of Michigan Asian Student
Coalition
-Raymond Lin
Tieng Lim
Jennifer Liu
Elaine Ngai
Joanna Su
Kathy Yang
Rubina Yeh
December 1

I

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