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February 10, 1988 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-02-10

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4

OPINION
Page 4 Wednesday, February 10, 1988 The Michigan Daily

4

1bre 3id igau Jai1a
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVIII, No. 91 420 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.

Awoman's life in state prison

U

perpetuates racism

LAST WEEK FLIERS advocating
white supremacy were posted all
over campus. The fliers, suppos-
edly disseminated by a white
supremicist group, are just one of a
series of racist incidents that has
plagued this campus all year.
The fliers agree with the racially
offensive statements made by LSA
Dean Peter Steiner about Blacks and
Black institutions. Steiner's com-
ments were reiterated using collo-
quial language. Although Steiner's
office was called the day of the in-
cident, he did not have time to
comment. Later he issued a state-
ment calling the remarks
"obnoxious," but failed to denounce
the fliers.
The administration's lax attitude
and weak responses to racial inci-
dents add to the hostile atmosphere
present on this campus. The Uni-
versity does not foster an atmo-
sphere conducive to minorities nor
is it actively working to educate the
community on the problems of
racism and diversity.
A good first step towards pro-
moting a healthier atmosphere is a
mandatory class on diversity. This
type of requirement would broaden
students' perspectives and dilute the
racist atmosphere present on cam-
pus, as some racist attitudes can be
corrected by education. Education is
the key to combating racism on
campus and the University needs
more than discipline if it hopes to
achieve a change in attitudes.
Instead of promoting a healthy
learning environment where stu-
dents can come and appreciate the
many diverse cultures, the atmo-
sphere on this campus harbors bad
attitudes towards minorities.
Blacks, for instance, are the victims

of discrimination: the administration
does not recognize them as intelli-
gent enough to meet the Univer-
sity's academic standards. The rich
heritage of Blacks is over-looked in
racist statements which imply that
the quality of the University would
be lowered with increased minority
enrollment.
Statements such as the latest flier
exemplify the ignorance and
blindness that comes from a
primarily white Euro-centric
education, such as offered by the
University.
When administrators such as
Steiner and Interim President
Robben Fleming refuse to remedy
the situation through a mandatory
class and sometimes expound racist
attitudes themselves. As a result,
the campus is bound to have a hos-
tile atmosphere conducive to dis-
crimination. The narrow-minded-
ness exemplified by those in power
is analogous to the institutionalized
racism that is present in society.
The University is in trouble. Our
administrators set poor examples
that must not be followed. Rather
than insinuating that Blacks lower
the quality of the education at the
University, the administration
should realize its own faults and
take more positive actions to rectify
its problems.
To ' continue fighting against
racist incidents, people should par-
ticipate in the different groups on
campus that began in light of the
University's problems. Outside re-
sources are important to combating
this problem, such as asking the
city of Ann Arbor to investigate the
distribution of the recent fliers.
We must remember that "A peo-
ple united can never be defeated."

By Mary Glover
First of a three-part series
My experience in the criminal justice
system began in January of 1976, and that
summer I was sent to the old Detroit
House of Corrections with three life
sentences. I was numb with grief, barely
21 years old, and "green as the grass." I
had become involved in a shooting during
an escape attempt after a larceny in a
building. My husband had been "jumped"
form behind by a man much larger and
heavier than he was, and in the struggle
over his gun, the gun fired. I was outside
the building when this happened. The rent
was due, we had less than ten dollars and
were unemployed. The Judge was a
chronic alcoholic who had been convicted
drunk driving and was the sole Circuit
Court Judge and prosecution in a very
small town. We didn't have a chance.
When the courts were "finished" with us,
we had six life sentences between us. No
one cared about what really happened that
day truthfully, they wanted "just-us."
On arrival at the prison, I could not
believe my eyes. The 180 bed institution
was completely uninhabitable. The
buildings had been condemned and the
housing "cottages" were filthy. I was
processed as a new committment and taken
to the hospital dining room for lunch. It
was crawling with cockroaches and mice;
plaster was falling out of the low,
screenless window with a full litter of
kittens in her mouth. She was bringing
them inside to her home in the infirmary
kitchen under a broken stove. They fed me
black, burned hot dogs and beans. It was
hot and muggy. Flies were everywhere. I
was sick and in shock.
Later that day, I was locked into a
crumbling, graffiti-littered room and placed
in "quarantine" with nothing but the
clothes on my back. My physical
exa.m.ination was pending. The mattress
on the ancient iron bed was urine-soaked
and decrepit. I remember standing in the
middle of the room because there was
nowhere to sit, crying. This was my first
Mary Glover is currently serving three life
sentences in Huron Valley's Women's
Correctionalfacility. She is enrolled in the
college of LSA and received a Hopwood
award this year for an essay. Along with
one other woman she gained the right to
attend college through a civil rights suit
filed against the State of Michigan.

introduction into the "school of hard
knocks."
I was called to the clinic that sa.m.e
evening, where I encountered a severely
epileptic woman I will never forget. She
was barefoot, wearing a frayed blue
bathrobe. She had the eccentric and bizarre
mannerisms of a Bette Davis character in
the movies. In the dark, gloomy waiting
room of the clinic she told me in detail
how she laid to rest her 15 year old
babysitter before she put her finger to my
temple and "blew the trigger." I thought I
would jump out of my skin. She told me
the girl had beaten her son. She was the
first of many women I would meet over
the years who clearly needed to be in a
hospital receiving treatment. The thought
of spending the rest of my life in this hell
was more than I could bear. I quickly
decided, while fighting off mosquitoes day
and night, if there was a way out I would
find it.
Once released on grounds, I discovered
the biggest disappointment of all.
Treatments progra.m.s consisting of
educational and vocational instruction were
virtually non-existent. There were some
high school classes and minimal entry-
level college classes offered sparingly. One
lifer had taken the college classes steadily
and in 8 years had not been able to obtain
a 2 year degree. The "law library"
consisted of a few volumes of wet,
mildewed Michigan Reports from the year
1923 stored in the broom closet on the
first floor of the administration building.
Any use for appeal was impossible. Job
classifications for new women consisted of
mopping floors and scrubbing toilets,
which were usually backed up. There was
no way I could "work my way out," as
work assignments were menial tasks like
dietary scrubbing pots and pans. I wanted
an education and to better myself as a
woman while incareated, but survival took
precedence. I felt buried alive. I was in a
real A.m.erican jungle.
Letters began to arrive from my
husband, serving time in the largest walled
prison in the world in Jackson, the State
Prison of Southern Michigan. He
informed me of the variety of treatment
oppurtunities available to the men in the
system that the women were denied. His
living conditions were horrendous, like the
women's, and in many ways even worse.
His cell was several stories high with no
screens and birds flew inside when thery
were hungry. I was angry and frustrated,
but by then it was snowing and we had no

heat. There was three inches of water
constantly standing on the floor of the
showers, now frozen so solid you could
skate on it. We were being denied basic
human rights because we were small in
number compared to the men and it was
not "economically feasible" to provide for
a separate women's institution. The
Department of Corrections called us "the
forgotten offender," and represented us as
such to the public. But they certainly did
not forget to abuse us.
I found support in women's
organization sponsored by the A.m.erican
Association of Universtiy Women
(AAUW) called the Lifeliners. That
literally was what they were. The group
provided sister lifers (exclusively) the
forum to voice their concerns and define
what changes needed to be made with
priority to the most critical.
My real salvation came that same year
when a handful of women law students and
lawyers began a class in the old employees
dining room on civil and criminal
procedure. They held a spaghetti dinner as
a fund-raiser for us to raise the money for
our law books. They listened to our
problems, our complaints, our struggles
to survive, which were only too obvious
as the table discussion was frequently
interrupted by plaster falling on us from
the decaying ceiling . They understood.
They could clearly see we were crying out
from the pit of despair, and they responded
by filing a class-action civil rights suit in
federal court in Detroit requesting federal
intervention to right the grievous condi-
tionswe were subjected to. But it was so
much worse before it got better: in May of
1977 women were chained together,
dragged, beaten by guards and maced while
being thrown on a bus to transport.them
to a county mail because it was
"overcrowded." It was a holocaust. The
oppression was unbearable. I remember
watching women being dragged and kicked
brutally by "police" (guards) while tears
streamed down my face. It was sheer
horror, no one was told where they were
being taken or why and none of us knew if
we were the next ones to be dragged
outside, chained and sprayed with mace.
This practice was stopped later by the
lawsuit. I was learning quickly the power
of the law, and the wealth of volunteers
concerned with ensuring decent living
conditions for women. Tremendous change
ca.m.e as a result of 'their efforts and
constant work.

I

I

4

4

4

LETTERS

Silent majority must

combat racism

Don't single out PIRGIM

IF THE CAMPUS BRANCH of the
Public Interest Research Group in
Michigan were as profitable as it is
controversial, it might displace IBM
on the Fortune 500.
Unfortunately, the environmental
group's financial health depends
largely on a 75 cent refundable fee
attached to the portion of student
tuition which goes to the Michigan
Student Assembly. To avoid paying
the fee students would have had to
go to MSA offices and make a re-
quest, but students can still receive
a refund at CRISP.
Last week, the Engineering
Council passed a resolution oppos-
ing the present funding of PIRGIM
through student tuition.. Council
endorsed a petition asking for a
MSA referendum to eliminate the
negative check-off system of pay-
ment.
The petition is currently being
circulated by Rackham student
Steve Angelotti and Business
school senior Jon Bhushan. If they
succeed in their efforts to collect the
required thousand petition sig-

The fee exists because 69 percent
of the voters in the last MSA elec-
tion supported it. Previously, PIR-
GIM showed significant student
support by collecting signatures
from 16,874 students in favor of
funding the group via a fee which
students could reject on the Student
Validation Form (SVF).,
Critics of PIRGIM claim students
were duped into signing the peti-
tion, making it illegitimate. But is
hard to believe that almost 17,000
students would sign a petition
without looking at it. Furthermore,
the petition was in support of a dif-
ferent funding system which the
University Board of Regents have
already rejected. The true test of
support for the current funding of
PIRGIM was last March's MSA
election, which PIRGIM won its
cases by a large margin.
PIRGIM should not be singled
out merely because of the nature of
the organization. Any other campus
group which shows similar support
can and should receive the same
benefits PIRGIM does. The Engi-
neering Council's resolution seems

To the Daily:
As a group.of faculty con-
cerned about the issue of insti-
tutional racism, we believe that
the University's problems in
this area are not caused by the
words or actions of any single
person or small group of ad-
ministrators, faculty, or stu-
dents. They are perpetuated by
the actions, and often the inac-
tions and silence of the vast
majority of our community.
Similarly, these problems will
not be resolved by one person's
or small group's actions. The
majority of the faculty must
speak in support of those stu-
dents, faculty, staff, and
administrators who are com-
mitted to altering historic pat-
terns of institutional racism.
Because of our interest in
working toward positive solu-
tions to these problems, we are
deeply distressed by recent
events. Some, but by no
means all of these evens have
focused around Dean Peter
Steiner's remarks and the
protests they elicited. It is
Daily ad is
To the Daily:
We would like to express our
surprise and dismay that you
would include the "U" insert
that printed the Budweiser
"Label Conscious" commer-
cial. The ad is tasteless and

clearly a mistake to focus too
much frustrdtion on a single
individual, when what is at is-
sue is a broad institutional
pattern. However, we are em-
barrassed and pained by (1) of-
fensive characterizations and
stereotypes of the attitudes and
values of Black faculty, stu-
dents and community, (2)
inadequate administrative ef-
forts at dialogue and
reconciliation in response to
the just protests of the Black
community to such offensive
stereotyping, (3) the lack of
any substantial and sustained
response by the University
leadership to the existence of
institutional racism, and (4) the
impression that the v a s t
majority of the faculty support
the substance of these offensive
characterizations and remarks
and are satisfied with the Uni-
versity's responses.
We are not surprised at sup-
port for freedom of expression
because that is a value we
cherish, but we are concerned
about apparent support for the
tasteless
into and are indistinguishable
from the towel on which they
rest. What does one do with a
beach towel? One lies on it.
This ad invites sexual abuse
and portrays women as passive,
inhuman Darts of the non-liv-

substance of these offensive
remarks and inadequate re-
sponses. What is needed now is
administrative leadership for
genuine reconciliation and dia-
logue, not continued adminis-
trative defensiveness and polar-
ization. What is needed is lead-
ership for change by the Presi-
dent and Provost, not mere
rhetoric, promises, and an-
nouncements of minor pro-
grams an initiatives. What is
needed is major institutional
reform: in Black, Hispanic,
Asian and native American
faculty recruitment and reten-
tion; in curriculum that is not
ethnocentric; in a diverse and
representative student body; and
in multi-racial leadership in the
colleges and the university.
If you share these views, let
the University know an com-
municate with one of he repre-
sentatives of FAIR listed be-

low. Participate in the effort to
alter historic patterns of insti-
tutional racism. FAIR: Faculty
Against Institutional Racism
-Alex Aleinikoff
Judith Avery
Mark Chesler
Ed Chudacoff
Eugene Feingold
Linda Franker
Max Heirich
Barbara Israel
Lewis Kleinsmith
Howard Kimeldorf
Ann Larimore
Richard Lichtenstein
Mike Lougee
Eliana Moya-Raggio
Silvia Pedraza-Bailey
Beth Reed
Mark Sandler
Pat Shure
Kate Warner
Helen Weingarten
Andrew Zweifler
January 29

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