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November 14, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-11-14

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a

OPINION

Monday, November 14, 1988

The Michigan Doily

I

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. iC, No.48 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.
Diversity means les

The

power of weaving

LAST WEEK THE Socially Active
Latino Students Association,
SA.L.S.A., demanded the recall of the
Annual Report on Minority .Affairs
published by the Office of the Presi-
dent, the Office of Minority Affairs, the
Office of the Provost and Vice Presi-
dent for Academic Affairs and the Of-
fice of the Vice Provost for Minority
Affairs. S.A.L.S.A. has proven that
the administration lied in its Report and
demands that they be accountable for
their actions. The administration must
respond immediately to the demands of
S.A.L.S.A. if we are to believe that
they are truly in pursuit of diversity as
they claim to be.
Members of S.A.L.S.A. have tried
to get the attention of Duderstadt for
over two weeks. They have used all the
"proper channels" of communication;
they have written him letters and tried
to schedule appointments with him. He
has repeatedly ignored their attempts.
Rather than to respond to the charges
with sensitivity and support, the ad-
ministration has ordered the printing of
more copies of the Report. This week-
end it was distributed to the principals
of 39 Chicago area high schools in a
minority recruitment drive.
The report lists the Committee On
Hispanic Studies as being the Latino
student equivalent of the Center For
African and Afro-American Studies.
This is a lie because the committee does
not exist. When questioned about this
the response was that the report was
typed in a hurry and mistakes were
made as a result of that. It seems,
however, that mistakes made in haste

usually result in omissions rather than
in additions. It takes time and planning
to invent fake organizations and assign
them titles.
There are numerous other inaccura-
cies and problems in the Report. Sev-
eral minority student organizations
were omitted; events which never hap-
pened are included in the calendar of
events (one of the events described as
an "ethnically oriented cultural event" is
the futuristic, satirical film Brazil );
there is no mention of resources avail-
able to Native American students. In
fact, a picture used in conjunction with
the statement "Environment For Diver-
sity" is of a Native American student
who graduated 20 years ago. And we
are to believe this report accurately
represents the current status of the
University of Michigan.
The Report On Minority Affairs is
deliberately deceptive. It proves that the
role of the report is not to inform peo-
ple about the University but to sell the
school. The fact that all of the mistakes
are attributed to hastiness shows that
this is not a priority job for the admin-
istration.
The report is indicative of the attitude
embodied in the statement "Blacks and
other minorities" which is used so of-
ten at this University. Recognition
must be given to every distinct group
which makes up the minority student
community. Until administrators do
that, it is difficult to believe they are
committed to improving the lives of all
people of color at this University. It is,
however, very easy to believe they
want to make themselves look good.

by Sandra Steingraber
Wood and cloth. Both useful. Both
beautiful.
Had I walked into my house last week
and saw my new housemate Lynne sitting
on the living room floor constructing
furniture, I undoubtedly would have been
curious and inquired about the project. But
as it was, I walked through the room and
saw her winding skeins of yarn into balls.
Something about the piles of brightly
colored strands made me smile politely and
keep walking.
The next night: Lynne again bent over
piles of yarn and more detached smiles of
greeting from me. And the next night the
same.
It was not until I noticed the spinning
wheel on the front porch and overheard a
breakfast conversation about the various
shows in which Lynne's work was
appearing that I realized I was sharing a
house with a bona fide professional
weaver.
Suddenly curious, I wanted now to
approach her but was forced first to
confront my original feelings of disaffected
politeness (and perhaps a touch of
disdain?) engendered by the sight of her
raw materials. Such a reckoning does not
really require a complex analysis - it
does seem to reveal much about the
socialization of our sensibilities.
Traditional women's crafts - weaving,
quilting, embroidery - at once represent
both the trivialization of women artisans
in Western culture and the triumph of
these artisans over the tools and materials
of their own oppression. If we view the
intricate patterns of a woven sweater with
a more patronizing eye than we view the
functional beauty of a piece of handcrafted

furniture, then what does this say about
the objects and their observers?
What symbolic elements of women's
work should be embraced and what
rejected? This predicament has been made
no easier by the packaging of women's
crafts by the capitalist patriarchy as artsy-
craftsy "kits." As far as I can see, they
effectively function to relegate bored,
lonely, dependent women to trivial forms
of labor. When I see a woman bent over a
heap of yarn, I see my mother's women
friends hard at work manufacturing tiny
c.
embroidered pillows and excrutiatingly
cute needlepoint portraits of large-eyed
children. Soap operas droning in the
background. I wanted no part of that
world. Of course, neither does my
housemate the weaver.
On the other extreme, in other cultures,
the needlework of women has served
revolutionary and nationalist purposes.
The weavings of Guatemalan Indian
women have long functioned to keep alive
the history of a people whose government
is hellbent on destroying. So powerful are
some of these weavings in symbolizing
cultural identity, that it is actually
considered subversive to weave cloth in
particular patterns of particular colors.
There are shirts one can be shot for
wearing.
Oromo women in Ethiopia told me
similar stories. One of the first things the
Ethiopian army does when it comes into a

village suspected of harboring guerrilla
sympathizers is to gather the women
together and confiscate their sewing
needles. Then they execute their husbands.
How forms of oppression can be
transformed through art into expressions
of power is something another friend of
mine, Barbara Westermann, thinks a lot
about. A sculptor, Westermann explores
in her work what she calls "the
phenomonology of dwelling" - where
we live is who we are. Her obsession with
the home - rooms, homes, doorways,
windows, huts - flows out of the
attention which women as housekeepers
are socialized into. Significantly,
Westermann's sculptures are wrought in
traditionally masculine materials (steel and
iron) and are most undelicate and
unbeautiful in composition.
In thinking about how to approach my
housemate about her work, I tried to think
about what I know about women weaving.
In high school, I played the part of
Penelope in an English class rendition of
Homer'sThe Odyssey. For ten years,
Penelope staved off bands of stupid and
unwanted suitors by daily weaving a
shroud and nightly unweaving it. Very
smart. But the larger purpose of this ruse
was to remain pure and patient while her
husband found his way back from a distant
and pointless war. Very ridiculous.
And in thinking about women's
weaving, I have been thinking about my
own writing, which has been alternately
praised and criticized for its "confessional"
and "synthetic" forms of discourse (as
contrasted, I suppose, to "dispassionate"
and "analytic").
What about women's work should be
embraced? And what rejected? This column
is a forum for issues such as these, woven
as they are into fabric of all of our lives.

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vol,
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--- - ---- -- -- ...........

JESSICA GREENE /Daily

Facing locked doors

Everyone
needs
UC 299
To the Daily:
Your front page article of
Tuesday, November 8, on the
University Course 299 on
racism inspired a thought. This
course, from which many of
our students, faculty and
administrators could surely
benefit, is under consideration
as a required course for LS&A
students. It occurred to me that
this might be inappropriate in
that it might be too restrictive
in attempting to educate those
in need of the concepts of such
a course.
The thought occurred to me
that, given the commitment to
this cause by President
Duderstadt and, of course, the
deans of the many schools in
the University, that the
students of the College of
Engineering, the School of
Public Health, the School of
Music, the Division of
Physical Education, the
Schools of Pharmacy, Law,
Medical, Dental and Graduate
Studies, and any others I have
not mentioned, might also
benefit from having to take
such a course.
Would it not be consistent
with the purpose of such a
course to provide its insights
into the quality of interactions
between all members of our
species to all members of our
university community instead
of singling out students of
LS&A, a group of people who
might possibly be somewhat
less needy of the lessons of
such a course than the groups
who seem to be excluded from
its required audience.
Perhaps this concept ought
to beadded to those that the
President's office has under
consideration as part of its
commitment against racism.
And while we are at it, why
not provide the benefits of this
course to still others in our
.nivers..ity -n.m:,nn...-ac

to take UC 299, including the
final exam. After all, the
racism virus is like any other
virus; it can get in there and at
the right (or wrong) moment
express itself. No one is
immune!
-Robert E. Beyer
Biology Professor
November 8
Education
does not
'justify'
To the Daily:
I am a peer-contraceptive ed-
ucator for the University
Health Service, and I read your
editorial "Liberate Birth Con-
trol" (10/26/88) with disap-
pointment. The Contraceptive
Education Program (CEP) has
been misrepresented in that ar-
ticle.
It is true that in order for a
woman to receive a prescrip-
tion form of birth control
(birth control pills, di-
aphragms, and soon cervical
caps), she must attend a two
hour lecture which educates
participants about all contra-
ceptive methods available to
them at UHS. This lecture
teaches a decision-making pro-
cess so that a woman alone, or
with a partner, can make the
decision that works best in her
particular circumstance.
Men are encouraged to attend
lectures, but they cannot be re-
quired to come because they are
not the people who will be re-
ceiving prescriptions. The re-
quirement exists for women
because their bodies will be the
ones altered by the prescrip-
tion. Though this may seem
unfair, the fact that currently
available prescription forms of
birth control are for women is
not a function of UHS. Please
do not blame UHS for the sex-
ist history of birth control.
Efficiency is not a
"justification" for the CEP re-
quirement; it is a legitimate
reason for the program to exist.
The Gvnecoloiv Clinic is the

Similarly, education should
not be shunned as a
"justification" for the program;
this education is necessay.
While some women may know
all about the options available
to them, many women on
campus do not. From my
experience as a lecturer, I know
that there are some very
misinformed women seeking
contraception. UHS does not
"presuppose that every woman
seeking birth control is unin-
formed"; rather, UHS knows
from experience that many of
these women are uninformed.
Only through education can
women make an intelligent de-
cision. We do not pretend to
teach everything about contra-
ception in two hours. We can
give women an educated basis
from which to form their deci-
sions. Participants are provided
with reading materials to take
home as well as information
about additional pertinent re-
sources.
The author of "Liberating
Birth Control" obviously did
not do her homework as pro-
grams are presented in residence
halls throughout the term at
the request of staff. It is true
that no program is provided
during new student orientation,
but this is the choice of the
Orientation Staff.
The University Health Ser-
vice seeks to educate people
not only about health issues,
but about the health care pro-
cess as well. Their goals are
not to be a model for social
chage, but to teach students to
have realistic expectations of
health care.
I am willing to bet that the
author of the editorial has not
attended a CEP lecture, nor in-
vestigated the UHS objec-
tively. I urge her to do so at
her earliest convenience.
-Sara Spinner
October 28
UHS
lectures

are the only sex who become
pregnant. Where the Daily edi-
torial falls short is in its at-
tempt to criticize the Contra-
ceptive Education Program
(CEP) that Health Services of-
fers.
First the Daily claims "the
consequences of a mandatory
lecture are patronizing and of-
fensive, and it is a minimally
effective way of educating peo-
ple about birth control." From
this statement it is obvious
that the editorial board has not
attended a CEP lecture. The
format of each lecture is casual
and friendly, certainly not pa-
tronizing and offensive. As to
its effectiveness, after my last
lecture on Monday night, four
of fifteen people present re-
sponded in surveys to have
CHANGED THEIR MINDS
about what type of contracep-
tive was better for them. Addi-
tionally, not one complained of
being patronized or offended.
CEP educators are trained to
be sensitive to the fact that
contraception is a personal and
serious decision. We are trained
to give people who might not
know all of the facts the basic
rudiments necessary to make
such a personal decision. If the
editorial board had been at even
one lecture they would know
that no one is "forced to dis-
cuss these issues in an open
forum." Certainly discussion
and questions are encouraged,
but ba no means demanded.
The main message is this:
Because many women are in-
terested in prescription birth
control it becomes possible to
implement a program to edu-
cate them. It is illogical to say
that because we cannot require
that men go to similar semi-
nars we should discontinue the
educational program that we are
providing for these women.
Incidentally, these lectures
are open to and attended by the
general public, both male and
female, on Monday nights 7-9
p.m and Tuesday afternoons 3-
,. . - - .

I
I

FRIDAY'S DEMONSTRATION marks
the second time since the term started
that campus security officers have used
force to stifle student dissent from the
University administration.
Students angry at the lies and.
misrepresentations in the new Annual
Report on Minority Affairs gathered in
the Fleming Administration Building to
express their anger and present
University President Duderstadt with
their demands. Deputized security
0 .'..' C.*
Fcus
officers Leo Heatley and Robert Pifer
responded by denying the protesters
access to the elevators and trapping
several of them inside the stairwells.
This episode is the latest in a series
of events which confirm the University
administration's motive for requesting
the denutizatinn of camnus security of-

And on Friday, the two deputies
prevented students from entering a
public building to express their
legitimate grievances to Duderstadt.
The deputies claim that there were
too many people to allow upstairs. But
when the protesters offered to send five
representatives instead of all going up
together, they were still refused access.
Since Heatley and Pifer have been
deputized, the effect of their actions has
been to shield the administration from
being accountable to the rest of the
University community. Protest is often
the only way students can make their
voices and opinions heard, and Fri-
day's protest demonstrates that it is
also often the only way to get results.
The leaders of the protest had been
trying all week to meet with Duder-
stadt, but it was not until they refused
to leave the building that their request
for an appointment was granted. The
administration is using its deputies and
its new protest policy to deny students
their only effective means of expres-
sion. Its goal is to repress student
protest, thereby avoiding accountabil-
ity, and eliminating one of the few av-
enues for student input.

I
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