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April 20, 1988 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-20

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The Michigan Daily Wednesday, April 20, 1988 Page 5

divided students

PIRGIM defends itself

By Eric Schnaufer
Yesterday, leaders of the Black Student
Union and Black Law Student Alliance,
and possibly those two organizations
themselves, formally broke with the
United Coalition Against Racism.
Yesterday, University Presidents Harold
Shapiro's and Robben Fleming's plan to
divide anti-racist student activists formally
Before proceeding, it is important to
note that the following comments are not
based on any personal knowledge of the
division between BSU, BLSA and UCAR.
Furthermore, I am neither a member of
any of these groups, nor do my comments
represent the views of any other group or
It is unlikely that the split between
these anti-racist groups solely reflects dif-
fering views on the importance of sexism
and patriarchy. Although BLSA and BSU
wrote that "all men are created equal," the
differences those groups had with UCAR
Are most probably deeper than the accep-
tance of feminism in anti-racist activism
(emphasis added).
Nor is it likely that the split between
these anti-racist groups was on the basis
of race. Even though BLSA and BSU re-
ferred to UCAR as a "predominantly white
group," any group familiar with UCAR's
leadership knows that this characterization
of UCAR is manifestly false. If BLSA
and BSU are trying to claim that they, not
UCAR, represent Black students because
have obviously not succeeded. If BLSA
and BSU are announcing that they would
rather work with white university
administrators than white students, then
there has been a serious breakdown in race
relations among students.
It is also unlikely that the split is over
the $35,000 President Shapiro promised
BSU a year ago. BLSA and BSU accused
UCAR members of wanting to gain con-
trol of the $35,000. But since $35,000 is
a drop in the bucket and since alternative
funding is readily available, "money envy"
is certainly not the main division between
anti-racists groups.
The main division between anti-racists
groups is political. The groups differ in
outlook, orientation, tactics and philoso-
phy. Thirty-five thousand dollars did not
make BSU and BLSA suddenly see the
need for lauding University administration
efforts to increase Black student enroll-
ment or increased University control over
students through a nonacademic code.
BSU and, especially, BLSA may have a
pre-professional orientation, maybe even a
Black capitalist perspective. Not all or
maybe even the majority of BSU and
BLSA members are proto-Buppies, but the
conservative influence of career orienta-
tions are apparent in BSU and BLSA
policies. It is nonetheless wholly under-
standable that some Black students would
want to have the same economic opportu-
nities as white students. In fact, equal
economic opportunity is necessary for
racial equality. But equal economic oppor-
tunity may not be sufficient for there to be
racial equality. Maybe even the ideology
of equal economic opportunity impedes

racial equality as well as economic and
gender equality.
Not all anti-racist activists believe that
the main racial problem in the United
States is the paucity of Black men in
leadership roles in political and economic
hierarchies. An equal opportunity to dom-
inate and exploit may not be the proper
goal of anti-racist student activists.
If BLSA and BSU can be seen as repre-
senting a conservative tendency in anti-
racist student activism, UCAR can be seen
as representing a liberal tendency. Shapiro
and Fleming saw and exploited the differ-
ence in these tendencies. Shapiro and
Fleming appointed Black administrators to
positions in the University administration
where those Black administrators would be
forced to defend the University against
charges of institutional racism.
To a certain extent, this strategic de-
ployment of Blacks in the administration
has muted conservative Black student
criticism of the University's institutional
racism. Some Black students and student
organizations have now even assumed the
responsibility for defending the University
against attacks by liberal Black students
for the University's institutional racism .
For example, BLSA and BSU criticized
UCAR yesterday for "denigrating" the Of-
fice of Minority Affairs.
Ideally, all anti-racist student activists
would be united against the University's
institutional racism as well as attitudinal
racism in the University. Ideally, all anti-
racist student activists would be united
against sexism and other forms of invidi-
ous domination. But, in this University
and society, those who command the
economy and polity have access to exten-
sive monetary and organizational resources
and "legitimate" authority. Using their
control of resources and authority, leaders
of the economy and polity are able to di-
vide and conquer if not search and destroy
critics of existing racial relations.
Fleming and Shapiro have divided anti-
racist student activists. There is some
hope, though, in that Fleming and
Shapiro have been unable to vanquish
anti-racist student activism. The future
may yet hold the possibility of a progres-
sive, racially integrated student-worker
movement against attitudinal and institu-
tional racism at the University of Michi-
Eric Schnaufer is a law student at the
University of Michigan.
Reminder To Our Readers

By Judy Hyslop and Wendy
Beginning last October, several oppo-
nents of PIRGIM began spreading misin-
formation about PIRGIM around campus.
We have already lost the campus election
because of it, with students narrowly vot-
ing (1849-1731) to discontinue the 75 cent
refundable PIRGIM fee. PIRGIM wants to
set the record straight:
(1) The Daily reported in an editorial
that PIRGIM "unscrupulously" sent student
fees to Boston, where they were used to
fund other PIRGs around the country. Is
this true?1
No. PIRGIM has never sent student fees
to Boston or anywhere else in the country,
nor will it. In fact, PIRGIM has received
no student fees whatsoever over the past 2
years. All the fees that students have paid
are still with MSA in a U-M account.
This charge is an example of an outright
lie spread by PIRGIM opponents in the
election campaign. Opponents knew that
PIRGIM had no student fees - the oppo-
nents had helped write the MSA-PIRGIM
contract that prohibited MSA from turning
over any student fees to PIRGIM until all
the refunds were paid. Refunds were sent at
the beginning of April.
(2) Did PIRGIM mislead students in last
year's elections by claiming to be in debt
Hyslop and Seiden are members of '
PIRGIM's Board of Directorsj

when in fact it had a large surplus?
No. In 1986, four months before the
first vote on the PIRGIM fee (the vote
where students overwhelmingly approved
the fee), PIRGIM turned over to MSA 200
pages of documents about the organization,
including budgets, audits, and official cor-
porate documents. PIRGIM gave this
material to the Michigan Daily and dis-
cussed it with reporters from the Ann Arbor
News. For three months (still before the
election), MSA debated the PIRGIM issue
in weekly meetings, referring to these doc-
What did these documents show ? That
PIRGIM's statewide citizen organization
had a surplus; that we never claimed to be
in debt; and that we expected our surplus to
grow as our statewide programs became
more successful (as they have). Those doc-
uments also showed that the surplus came
entirely from citizen contributors who sup-
ported PIRGIM in its statewide efforts to
clean up toxic waste. Citizens across the
state did not contribute money to pay for
campus consumer guides; a separate cam-
pus fee is needed to fund those projects.
Citizens contributed to clean up the envi-
ronment, and PIRGIM's responsibility is
to use their funds for that purpose. The
documents we provided MSA and the press
were very clear on this subject, as were the
discussions before MSA and other student
groups -- all before last year's vote approv-
ing PIRGIM funding.
(3) Will PIRGIM survive after this de-

Of course. PIRGIM's statewide program
is healthy and very active. This year we had
a record-setting statewide Telephone Out-
reach Project, and we will run four canvass
offices around the state this summer-- our
largest effort ever. The impact of the vote
is confined to PIRGIM's U-M projects.
The student Board of Directors will decide
whether to shut down PIRGIM's U-M pro-
jects because of lack of funds for those
(4) Does this year's election loss mean
that student opinion has shifted, and that
there is a groundswell against PIRGIM and
its funding?
We don't think so. PIRGIM funding
has a long history of student support at U-
M: 16,000 signatures in 1972; 16,800 in
1986, and a landslide victory (over two to
one) last year. This year's election was
very close (1849 to 1731), and the turnout
was the lowest in a decade. The number of
anti-PIRGIM votes this year (1849) was
less than the number in last year's PIR-
GIM victory (over 1900 "no" votes); the
difference is that last year, 3100 people
voted in favor of the PIRGIM fee.
Regardless of the size of the margin and
the turnout of the voters, the result of the
election is that students have voted to ter-
minate the PIRGIM fee. We respect stu-
dent democracy, and we respect that deci-
sion. We also believe that the vote and the
decision would have been very different if
we had countered the misinformation
about PIRGIM before the election.

BSU, BLSA not split with

To the Daily:
The undersigned Black stu-
dents and members of the BSU,
BLSA and UCAR wish to dis-
associate ourselves from the
statement by Barron Wallace
and Jeff Williams printed in the
Daily yesterday. The letter was
replete with lies and baseless
accusations about UCAR and
UCAR's relationship with
BSU and BLSA. The opinions
expressed in that statement
were those of Wallace and
Williams and not the member-
ship of the BSU or BLSA. The
membership of neither group

authorized the publication of
this letter or agreed with its
While we are tempted to
specify and counter the inaccu-
racies, we do not feel the Daily
is the proper forum to air the
differences and disagreements
that exist within the Black
community on campus. W e
will pursue this dialogue and
our specific criticisms of the
current BSU officials in a more
constructive context, where
such criticisms could con-
tribute to strengthening the or-
ganization and our community.

Finally, UCAR is a multi-
racial organization, led by peo-
ple of color and has devoted a
tremendous amount of time and
energy' to exposing and fight-
ing racism on this campus,
opening the University up to
Black youth of Detroit and
other excluded communities,
and encouraging the entire
community to commit itself to
this struggle. We intend to
continue to counter and fight
the main enemy confronting
our community and not each
other. We encourage all Black
students to attend BSU

Wednesday night at 7:00pm to
further this dialogue.
-Bob Meadows, BSU
Vicky Baecher, BSU
Carl Anderson, BLSA
TracyerMatthews, BSU/UCAR
Kimberly Smith, BSU/UCAR
Dan Holliman, BSU/UCAR
Rosaland Reeves, NAACP
Barbara Ransby, BSU/UCAR
Lillian Waller, BSU/UCAR
Tracey Grasty, BSU
Lannis Hall, BSU/UCAR,
Cathy Cohen, POWOR/BSU
Roderick Linzie
Michael Wilson, BSU/UCAR
Connie Glaze,
Sigma Sweethearts.


TODAY is the last day of
publication for
The Michigan Daily.
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