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September 08, 1988 - Image 34

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-08

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988

ACTIVISM

BY ADOLEENA GONZALEZ
As a Hispanic student on campus,
I welcome all of you, and a much-
deserved congratulations on your
acceptance and presence at the Uni-
versity.
First-year students, you have un-
dertaken a passage that will prepare
you for the rest of your lives. His-
panic students - as distinct as their
backgrounds may be - on this Un-
iversity's campus must come to-
BY LINDA KURTZ
"Welcome, incoming students of
the University of Michigan. The re-
gents and administration of the Uni-
versity of Michigan welcome you, at
least on paper, no matter what your
race, your sex, your color, your reli-
gion, your creed, your national ori-
gin or ancestry, your age, your
marital status, your handicap, or
your Vietnam-era veteran status. We
protect you, through regental bylaw
14.06, from discrimination and ha-
rassment. You say you're a divorced
female? That's no cause for us to

IBienverndos!

gether to identify the goals and pri-
orities that are pertinent to us, as
students as well as citizens of this
great United States in which we live.
English only, voter registration,
immigration, and enrollment at
institutions of higher education are

some of the important issues that
face the Hispanic community. We
have battles to fight in the political
arena as well as the backyard of this
campus.
As our community continues to
grow in record numbers, our pres-

ence will be undeniably felt by ev-
eryone. There are thousands of peo-
ple coast to coast, border to border,
who are involved in activities that
deserve the University's attention.
However, institutions in the public
and private sectors too often remain

impervious to the interest of His-
panics. It's time for the University
to become aware of our contri-
butions and stop abdicating its re-
sponsibilities to us as significant
members of this community. Re-
member, involvement and academic
excellence are two keys to furthering
our Hispanic cultures.
-Gonzalez is president of the
Socially Active Latino
Students Association.
sity divestment from South African
businesses)" and supportive of quash-
ing non-reactionary (leftist or even
middle-of-the-road) views on cam-
pus. He typifies the white, male,
heterosexist power structure that any
oppressed group in this society is
fighting.
We must unite against Baker and
all like him. He is the symbol of
oppression. Gay men and lesbians
are the symbol of hope and equality,
for we are included in every race, ev-
ery class, every sex, every religion.

"WAIT A MINUTE! What's
that you said? You're also a lesbian?
A lesbian?!!! Get out of here! You're
unnatural, a sexual pervert! We don't
want any queers here. It doesn't
matter if we protect you on the basis
of every other characteristic, whether
innate - such as race - or acquired
- such as marital status. We don't
like queers. We don't include you in
the non-discrimination bylaw."
For over three years, the Lesbian
and Gay Rights Organizing Com-
mittee has fought for the inclusion
of sexual orientation in regental by-
law 14.06. We have been flatly de-
nied our equal rights by the eight re-
gents who set University policy.
Last winter, in a 7-0 vote, with one
abstention, the regents voted against
the inclusion of sexual orientation in
the University's non-discrimination
bylaw. The regents bring up various
arguments that they say support
discrimination against lesbians and
gay men. Regent Thomas Roach (R-
Saline) claims that if sexual orien-
tation is included in the bylaw, the
University will have to take affir-
mative action for lesbians and gay
men.
ROACH HIMSELF knows
this is a lie. The University cur-
rently does not take affirmative ac-
tion on the basis of religion, marital
status, etc. Fui nore, lesbians

and gay men do not need affirmative
action. We are better-represented on
campus (13 percent of the University
population) than in society at large.
Inclusion of sexual orientation will
not, as some regents claim, force the
University to stop dealing with
those groups which discriminate
against gays. The ROTC operates on
campus despite the fact that it dis-
criminates on the basis of sex,
handicap, and Vietnam-era veteran
status.
The real reason the regents op-
pose the bylaw change is that they
are ignorant of and fearful of homo-
sexuality. Regent Deane Baker (R-
Ann Arbor) is fearful that an inno-
cent, wide-eyed student from a rural
area (city people are more worldly,
he believes) will be seduced into the
homosexual lifestyle. Baker stated,
in March 1984, that "there are some
areas where discrimination... is ap-
propriate... For example, a homo-
sexual should not be employed in a
summer camp dealing with small
children, just as a male attendant
should not be employed in a female
locker room."~
THESE MEN are utterly igno-
rant! They do not realize that homo-
sexuality is a sexual orientation, not
a sexual preference. In other words,
people are gay or straight or bi be-

cause that's they way they are, not
because they woke up one day and
decided to choose to be emotionally
and erotically attracted to one sex
over another or because a roommate
seduced them into the "homosexual
lifestyle." Many of us gay people
have attempted to be heterosexuals
and have entered into what are, for
us, unnatural heterosexual relation-
ships. We have explained this to the
regents. We have mentioned to them
that many students and faculty are
gay.
But this does not sway them.
Neither do fine words. Neither does
logic. We have shown the holes in
the regental arguments against
inclusion in the bylaw. The only
thing that speaks to the regents is
money, power, and prestige. Thus
far, their homophobia has out-
weighed their desire to keep up with
the othe:: Big Ten schools that have
included sexual orientation in their
non-discrimination bylaws. Money,
we as students do not have. But
power we may. We can vote against
homophobic regents in November.
BOTH BAKER, the most ne-
farious of all regents, and Nellie
Varner (D-Detroit) are running for re-
election. Vote against them. Deane
Baker is not only viciously anti-gay,
he is also racist (opposing Univer-

Gay men and lesbians are
the symbol of hope and
equality, for we are in-
cluded in every race, every
class, every sex, every re-
ligion. To support gay
rights is to support an end
to oppression and dis-
crimination.
To support gay rights is to support
an end to oppression and discrimina-
tion. Rally behind us, for it is your
life as well as ours.
-Kurtz is a member of the Les-
bian and Gay Rights Organizing
Committee.

discriminate against you. You're
Buddhist in religious upbringing?
Ah, regental bylaw 14.06 prohibits
us from discriminating against you.
You're over 40 and disabled? Still
we must treat you equally! We wel-
come you! You are protected on ev-
ery characteristic which makes you a
minority!

Groups fight Asian stereotypes

BY JENNIFER LIU
AND JOANNA SU
The Asian American student po-
litical movement on the University
campus has followed a cyclic pattern
of development. Little has changed
in three decades; the issues and
problems encountered by the groups
stay the same.
In the late 1960s, the racist as-
pects of the Vietnam War prompted
Asian Americans on campus to band
together in a group called "One Life
In Unity." After the war, this orga-
nization disbanded, but in 1973, East
Wind was formed by Asian Ameri-
can students who also wanted a po-
litical focus for Asian Americans on
campus.
EAST WIND member Ted Liu
said "the leadership of the group used
the existing University student gov-
ernment apparatus to achieve the
group's objectives." East Wind was
working to discover Asian American

identity and history, and to dispel
common stereotypes. East Wind
sought to address issues including
the exclusion of Asian Americans in
the Opportunity Program, the ab-
sence of an Asian American repre-
sentative in the Office of Minority
Student Services, and the lack of
Asian American Studies courses in
the University curriculum.
During the second Black Action
Movement strike of 1973, East
Wind joined the Third World Coali-
tion Council in a sit-in at the Flem-
ing Administration Building and
presented a demand for an Asian
American advocate to the University
administration.
Despite the efforts of Asian
American student activists, the Uni-
versity administration did not deal
adequately with the needs of Asian
Americans. The Asian American ad-
vocate position was not established
until five years after the initial de-

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mand was made.
"(The position that was estab-
lished) didn't really meet our con-
ception of an Asian American ad-
vocate," said Parker Woo, a former
member of East Wind and a current
member of American Citizens for
Justice. "The University changed the
name from 'advocate' to 'repre-
sentative."'
WOO ADDED that the Uni-
versity had total control over the
selection process for the Asian
American representative In addition,
the representative che fn had no
previous experience. "(The Univer-
sity) found someone who wouldn't
make a lot of waves," Woo said.
By 1977, East Wind's focus had
changed due to a number of factors.
Strong dissent from members of the
group who felt East Wind was too
radical created friction. Woo attri-
buted most of the change in focus to
the changing of the times. "The
incoming members were not so po-
litical," he said. East Wind's focus
became more social and cultural, and
the group increased in size. It
changed its name to the Asian Am-
erican Association.
Current AAA President Eddie
Chu plans to continue the tradition
of social and cultural events. "AAA
is a place where individuals can
grow," Chu said. "An individual
finds friends in AAA in the fall, then
becomes involved in programs dur-
ing winter term... This is part of an
individual's personal growth. People
don't come into this university
knowing how to speak with admin-
istrators."
In February 1987, a small faction
of politically interested students split
off from AAA and formed the Uni-
versity of Michigan Asian Student
Coalition (UMASC). Asian Ameri-
can students rallied around the retrial
for the 1981 murder of Vincent Chin
in Detroit. Much like East Wind and

the Third World Coalition Council,
UMASC supported the United Co-
alition Against Racism in its de-
mands for anti-racist policies at the
University of Michigan throughout
the 1987-1988 school year. Again
like East Wind, UMASC's goals are
to educate the Asian American stu-
dent population and the University
community on Asian American is-
sues and to increase awareness of
Asian American identity, history,
and stereotypes.
THE GROUP also has an ac-
tivist focus, contrary to the common
stereotype that Asians are not a po-
litically visible minority. "(Asians)
should not be afraid to be confronta-
tional," said University graduate Ray
Lin, one of the founding members of
UMASC.
"We do speak up about our is-
sues," said Scott Wong, a graduate
student member of UMASC. "But
they get ignored."
Some membersof the group be-
lieve UMASC should be more
politically active than it is now.
"We need to be more progressive,"
said Dung Nguyen, a current and
founding member. "We need to be
very active."
Asian concerns today have not
changed greatly from Asian concerns
a decade ago. They still encompass
the struggle against stereotypes, the
struggle to discover identity and his-
tory, and the struggle for recognition
at local and national levels. Like its
predecessors, UMASC was created in
response to a volatile issue of the
day: the retrial of Ronald Ebens,
who murdered Chin.
LIKE 19AST WIND in the
1970s, several members of UMASC
and the Asian American community
are still unfamiliar and uncomfort-
able with confrontational tactics and
activist strategies.
A gap exists in the experiences of
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members with such methods. Some
members believe this problem can
be resolved by focusing on long-
term goals, rather than keeping the
group issue-oriented.
"Individual projects are good for
the moment," UMASC member
David Sasaki said. "We need to find
links between the projects and our
long-term goals."
The same problem is now being
addressed by ACJ, Woo said. "We
need to refocus. We need to regain a
sense of where we're going as a
group. That's something we're still
grappling with."
IT APPEARS that the strong-
est insurance against dissolution that
Asian American student groups have
at the moment is their strength in
unity. There are many strong Asian
American student organizations ac-
ross the country.
Two of the largest are the East
Coast Student Union, which was
created in April 1977 by members of
Asian student organizations at col-
leges and universities along the East
Coast, and the Asian-Pacific Stu-
dent Union, which is comprised of
Asian American student organiza-
tions on the West Coast.
Despite organizational difficul-
ties, Asian American students on
campus seem to be headed toward a
stronger cohesion through a greater
unity of ideas and direction. Last
year, the United Asian Organization
was formed through collaborative
efforts from several University Asian
American student organizations.
Members of AAA and UMASC
are currently planning a Midwest
Asian Alliance that will unite Asian
American student organizations in
Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illi-
nois.
-Liu and Su are UMASC
members.

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