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October 29, 1987 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-29

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, October 29, 1987

Thfe MichliganlDily

e mbt a n Michig an
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Peace Corps

visits Africa

Vol. XCVIII, No. 36.

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

The following interview is to contribute
to the continuing political debate about
the Peace Corps, which has a recruiting
office on campus. Daily co-editor Henry
Park interviewed former Peace Corps
volunteer Pia Lopez.

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.

PIRGIM and democracy

LAST WEEK, the Public Interest
Research Group In Michigan signed
a contract with the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly under which PIR-
GIM will receive a 75 cent refusable
fee per term from each student.
Two aspects of the process which
determined this funding system
show a disrespect for the demo-
cratic process.
The most blatant example was the
University's Board of Regents' de-
cision to cut the MSA budget re-
quest from $8.35 per student to $7.
The assembly determined the larger
figure to comply with increases
supported by students in the March
student government election.
If $8.35 had been approved,
PIRGIM would have received
$1.25 rather than 75 cents. Regent
Thomas Roach (D-Saline) said that
the regents considered it their re-
sponsibility to determine a "reason-
able fee."
Since the only group on campus
directly affected by the MSA fee is
the students, it is difficult to under-
stand how the original fee could be
unreasonable. All of the individual
increases for programs and organi-
zations such as Student Legal Ser-
vices and the Ann Arbor Tenants
Union, as well as PIRGIM, were
approved by wide margins in a ref-
erendum. If the regents were to ig-
nore the results of a state referen-
dum dealing with state institutions
of higher education, they would be
removed from office.
Somewhat less disturbing than the
dictatorial power wielded by the re-

gents, but also objectionable, is
PIRGIM's insistence that the con-
tract prohibit candidates for their
board of directors from running
under the party affiliation. PIRGIM
says that if candidates ran as mem-
bers of campus-wide political par-
ties, non-PIRGIM issues would
seep into their elections and candi-
dates poorly versed in the group's
concerns or hostile to the group's
existence might be elected.
While PIRGIM's fears are under-
standable, their concerns are less
compelling than the elimination of
freedom of speech and association
that the contract institutionalizes.
The assembly's constitution
guarantees the right of students to
form political parties to run in
MSA-supervised elections. In elec-
tions for the Board of Student Pub-
lications, which supervises the fi-
nancial operations of the Daily, the
Ensian, and the Gargoyle, candi-
dates are allowed to run under party
labels but the issues remain those of
concern to the board.
Obviously, under a system of
parties, there is a danger that stu-
dents, voting a straight party line,
would support candidates opposed
to PIRGIM. Jrue democracy,
however, always entails risks.
PIRGIM would be right to scream
and yell at the regents for their un-
democratic decision to cut MSA
funding. At the same time, how-
ever, PIRGIM should not scream
when the democratic process re-
quires that PIRGIM risk its most
immediate interests.

Daily: When and where were you in
southern Africa?
Lopez: South Africa, Botswana,
Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia,
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia,
Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, all of southern
Africa. From June 1981 to February
1985.
Daily: When and where was your
Peace Corps stint?
Lopez: In Swaziland from 1981 to
1985. I was a teacher of mathematics at a
junior high school in a small rural area
and also set up chicken cooperatives with
adults.
Daily: What can you say about Peace
Corps, do you think it makes a positive
contribution overall?
Lopez: I think that in some sense
volunteers are somewhat separated from
the Peace Corps as an organization. I
think that the Peace Corps as a n
organization is generally a conservative,
reformist organization, being part of the
U.S. government. But I think that Peace
Corps volunteers don't see themselves as
being part of the foreign aid apparatus of
the United States. They see themselves as
individuals doing something on the
ground.
Daily: Do you think that they're
correct in that perception?
Lopez: Yes and no. In some sense I
think it's a delusion because you're, I'm
somewhat reluctant to say this, in essence
there to make people love Americans.
That's the bad side of the coin.

On the good side of the coin, I think the
individuals on the ground in particular
communities do a lot to aid the
development process in those countries.
And it varies among different volunteers.
I think there are people genuinely
committed to the development process.
Daily: Maybe you should say more
about racial relations on the ground.
Lopez: I was the only white person in
about a 25 mile radius from my school.
Daily: And did you feel that you could
create any relations that you liked or were
you set up to be superior?
Lopez: Not at all, not at all. I think
that in the situation I was in I was set up
to be not even remotely superior. It was
clearly a relationship of peers.
I think that in Swaziland and in other
places I traveled through they're used to
seeing white people as superior, so even if
you're not superior, the onus is on you to
show them that you're not a superior.
There were certainly circumstances in
which people would come up to me and
call me "baas" in Afrikaans and I would
have to make it clear to them that I was
not their master.
I think that no matter what, you never
get away from the fact that you're a white
person. And I think that the people you
deal with on an everyday level, if they ever
thought that you were a superior person,
they lose that very quickly. When you
have to fight over who is going to fetch
water, who is going to scrub the floor,
who is going to cook, who is going to
arrange the duties at the school this day or
this week, those things break down pretty
quickly. People are people.
Daily: What would you like to say
generally about the Peace Corps in
southern Africa?
Lopez: Personally, I think it's a good
idea because South Africa is such a
monolith in that area and there are such
perceptions of the strength of ihis white
monolith, and at least in the rural areas,
there is the perception that perhaps that's
something that can never change, that
white people are superior, smarter,
stronger, whatever. There's resignation.
So I think that Peace Corps has a good

role in making these countries on the
frontline stronger, if only in a
psychological way, if in no other way.
No matter how you look at it, the
frontline states are bound by South Africa
and they are economic as well as military
hostages of South Africa.
But I think that for individual Peace
Corps volunteers, from a psychological
perspective, they can be helpful over time
in that situation.
Daily: What about the role of the
CIA?
Lopez: In Swaziland, there was never
ever any suspicion that any of the
volunteers were CIA. I was never accused
of it.
Daily: Do you have anything else in
general to say?
Lopez: About travel in South Africa
that was one of the big issues that we had.
People felt that we shouldn't go into
South Africa at all because in doing so
you would be patronizing say hotels there,
say campgrounds. You would be buying
things there; you would be doing things
there.
The other side of the coin was well
listen, we're 8,000 miles from home; we
should not go back with the exact same
views and prejudices that we came over
with. And, my view was the second view
that we should go to South Africa as
much as we can and see what's going on
there. And as far as patronizing hotels and
things like that, living in any of the
frontline states, when you brush your
teeth, you are buying something from
South Africa. When you buy your food,
it's all food from South Africa. So that's
unavoidable. If you take that position,
you should not be a Peace Corps volunteer
in those countries either.
Doris Lessing says that the trouble is in
a place like Rhodesia it is no good
looking coolly from the outside. You have
to experience the paranoia, the adolescent
sentimentality, the neurosis, then retreat
to a cool look from the outside. Most
politicians and journalists do their judging
from the outside only. Most of the people
on the spot are lost in a violent
emotionalism.
So I agreed with that entirely, that you
should go and see for yourself.

LETTERS

4

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Write fo,
To the Daily:
Since 1974 political prison-
ers in the Soviet Union have
observed October 30 as the
"Day of the Soviet Political
Prisoner." The date is usually
marked by the political prison-
ers with hunger strikes
throughout the country. This
date, October 30, also provides
a unique opportunity for indi-
viduals in the West to demon-
strate their solidarity with So-
viet political prisoners by
joining them in their struggle
for freedom.
As a member of an under-
graduate group of Amnesty In-
ternational on campus and Ann
Arbor's Local Group #61, we
are asking readers to observe
October 30th by writing letters
to the Soviet Ambassador in
Washington on behalf of a
prisoner of conscience, Tatyana
Velikanova. Ms. Velikanova
was sentenced to four years in a
labor colony and five in inter-
nal exile in Beyneu
(Kazakhstan) for "anti-Soviet
agitation and propaganda." At
the time of her arrest in Octo-
ber, 1979, Ms. Velikanova was
among the foremost human
rights activists in the Soviet
Union. She had earlier been
forced to give up her job as a
computer scientist as a result
of her human rights activities,
specifically, the founding of
the Initiative Group for the
Defense of Human Rights.
Speak-out on
To the Daily:
In conjunction with the
Sexual Assault Awareness
Week, Thursday, October 29,

IF IT, 6WLFSSO DAMNaWS... 4%0 IS W t} $?I.INtG?

r Soviet poliical prisoners
We ask that everyone write and unconditional release of -Deborah Blatt
to His Excellency Y.V. Du- Tatyana Velikanova, a prisoner Undergrads for
binin, Embassy of the USSR, of conscience imprisoned for Amnesty International
1 Andrei Sakharov Plaza NW, the non-violent exercise of her Ann Arbor Group
Washington, D.C. 20036, and right to freedom of expression. #61
politely request the immediate October 28
'U' hiring: not only racist, but also sexist

To the Daily:
The Ann Arbor News con-
tinues its tradition of down-
playing sexism on the Univer-
sity of Michigan campus. Em-
phasis was given in its Sunday
article to the lack of Blacks
(read Black men) among new
faculty hires.
The University has a far
worse hiring record for women,
and especially women if color,
as evidenced by a faculty to
student ratio that is ap-
proximately twice as large for
Blacks as it is for women and
is so dismal for women of
color to be negligible.
The claim that the lack of
women Ph.d.s is responsible
for these skewed ratios is ludi-
crous in many fields. Even in
areas such as romance lan-
guages where women have
long been the recipients of the
majority of Doctorates, the
hiring and promotion record of
the University is dismal.
An instance of racism on
the student run radio station
was rightfully given press, but
it is obvious what is indicated
when instances of sexist jokes
harassment
What is the value of a speak-
out? Sexual assault affects us
all, but is all too often not
discussed. It is important that

on this radio station occur es-
sentially daily and are ignored
by the newspaper and the Uni-
versity administration.
Women dormitory students
report harassing phone calls to
campus security each week.
Women are daily recipients of
unwanted leers and lewd state-
ments and gestures. Harold
Shapiro has recently stated that
the University takes. n o
responsibility for conduct of
fraternities towards women.

Calls the police on parties

Imagine what the outcry would
(rightfully) be if Blacks were
constantly under the threat of
the type of hatred and violence
that women experience when
they are raped. Shame on the
Ann Arbor News for its selec-
tive reporting and shame on the
University of Michigan for its
too obvious lack of commit-
ment to opportunity for
women.
-J.D. Davidson
October 27

To the Daily:
I'd like to clear up what
seems to be a big mystery to
many University students, in-
cluding some of the Daily edi-
tors. The mystery is why the
Ann Arbor police are so intent
on quieting down the South
University/Church Street area.
The answer is that we, the
residents of the neighborhood,
call them up and beg them to.
This is because we are kept up
nightly until long after the lo-
cal bars close by people yelling
and screaming. It is also be-
cause drunks get in fights in
our yards, and can't stop
vomiting beneath our bedroom
windows. When it is 3 a.m.
and the party has moved to the
parking lot behind my house,
and the car stereos are blasting,
and I have to get un at 7. 1 call

don't understand. The real
mystery to me is why these
noisy people have failed to no-
tice (during the day, and/or
when they are sober) that this
area is not, in fact an outdoor
toilet, but a heavily residential
area. Closer inspection might
reveal to them the presence of a
number of elderly residents in
the area (or maybe they just
look old, from lack of sleep).
I personally am very thank-4
ful to the local police. I agree
that bopping these kids with
flashlights is not the most ap-
propriate action to take, but
what does it take to make them
shut up and go away? I'd like
to think that the offenders will
read this, and (shocked at their
insensitiveness,) immediately
mend their ways. I could get
snme sleen rind the noliepA

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