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September 06, 1990 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-06

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 6, 1990 - Page 7
.Center provides i
needed resources -4

by Baker-Mandela
Center Staff
In the Winter of 1987, the Uni-
versity of Michigan campus ex-
ploded when Black students, sup-
ported by other progressive students
organized to fight against blatant
racist attacks and institutional racism
at this University.
Students formed the United
Coalition Against Racism (UCAR)
which presented University officials
with a list of 12 demands to make
the University more accessible and
equitable for people of color. It is
now 1990; and as students of color
continue to battle racism on college
campuses, both the spirit and the
ideas of those students, who led the
struggle have become a lasting part
of the University of Michigan
through the Ella Baker-Nelson Man-
dela Center for Anti-Racist Educa-
tion (BMC).
The BMC is a student-run alter-
native resource and research facility
initiated by the United Coalition
Against Racism. It is the Center's
goal to encourage the study of the
issues of race, class and gender as
they impact upon people's lives and
to begin to challenge existing
paradigms and theories which are
often eurocentric, racist, sexist, and
It is important, that we as people
of color and women present alterna-
tive portrayals of our communities'
strengths and weaknesses to counter
right-wing mythologies which are
about us, but not by us.
In this regard, the BMC is also
an alternative teaching facility which
seeks to utilize the practical
"expertise" of all segments of our
communities: undergraduate and
graduate students, community mem-
bers, campus workers and faculty.
Teachers can learn. Students can
Since this center was initiated by
students in the anti-racist struggle,
one of the underlying philosophies
of the BMC has been to think in
order to act. Thus it is our hope that
the BMC will Create theoretical
work that will be of practical use in
service of Third World and poor
communities. This means engaging
in research and educational projects
which have direct connections to
struggles being waged in out com-
munities or by our communities on
Since most people of color are
excluded from universities, channels
must be created through which
"scholarly" work is made accessible
and relevant to the current conditions
and issues of people of color,
women, and poor people. We must

consciously make resources and out
skills available to our large commu-
nities outside the University.
Toward that end, the Center pro-
duces, publishes and collects materi-
als which focus on race, class, and
gender and current issues confronting
our communities. These materials
include a variety of mediums. For
example, books on the histories of
people of color, periodicals, such as
the Black Scholar and Palestine Fo-
cus: pamphlets on the Puerto Rico
Independence movement, videotapes
such as Angela Davis' 1988 campus
visit, "Racism 101" and cassette
tapes of Malcom X and Manning
Marable; student created photo dis-
plays; and magazines and news clip-
pings from the 1960s and of current
racist acts on the United States and
world wide are just a few of the re-
sources at the BMC available for
students and community use.
The center had published a pam-
phlet entitled "Racism in education"
by Barbara Ransby and there are
plans to produce more pamphlets
this year. Additional BMC projects
included a video detailing the anti-
'it is important, that
we as people of color
and women present
alternative portrayals
of our communities'
strengths and
weaknesses to
counter right-wing
mythologies which*
are about us, but not
by us'
racist movement at the University
and a research project on access to
higher education for people of color
and the poor. The Center will con-
tinue to bring speakers to campus to
speak on issues of importance to
people of color communities on the
campus. These are just a few of the
projects in which the Baker-Mandela
Center is currently engaged.
The BMC would like to encour-
age all students who are curious
about the student movement at the
University, nationally and interna-
tionally; interested in learning more
about race, class and gender issues;
or looking for ways to get involved
with the community, to stop by and
visit us in room 3 on the first floor
of the East Engineering Building on
Central Campus. The Center is open
Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. to
3 p.m.
If you are interested in the Cen-
ter, please contact Emery Smith,
BMC Coordinator at 936-1809.

Law Student Charles Wydner celebrates after a rally sponsored in part by the Baker-Mandela Center. Wydner was one of the students responsible for
organizing a response to the racist incidents that took place on campus in the spring of 1987 and underscored the need for the Baker-Mandela Center
SSD creates opportunities for students

by Marguerite Mason
Services for Students
with Disabilities
Life at the University of Michi-
gan is filled with opportunities. All
a student needs to do is scan the List
in the Michigan Daily, access any
computer terminal with a UM-CIC
command, or phone the Campus In-
formation Center to see hundreds of
But it isn't that way if you're a
student with a handicapping charac-
Three years ago at the University
there wasn't a Director, there wasn't
a Secretary, there wasn't reliable
transportation, nor advocacy or ac-
cess. Only 45 students with disabili-
ties were attempting to cope with
University life under these condi-
Now a full-time staff of four, and
a part time staff of five, provide
comprehensive services for over 125
undergraduate and graduate students.
The entire theme is "new".
One disabled student, Bob, said:
"The services that I need were sim-
ply not available. As a result, I
nearly flunked the first semester.
Then with a scholarship, advocacy
with instructors for increased time
lines and a reduced course load, I
have just completed my undergradu-
ate degree with a 3.5 average. I never
would have survived were it not for
Services for Students with Disabili-
The office has since changed its
name to Services for Students with

Bob's disability is one of the
most difficult to accommodate in the
world of higher education; a learning
disability. In his case he can't read.
When he reads a sentence looks like
this: "Inbeqenence is also comsidered
a vicic virtue,m for self-relaince me-
nas pulling your own thgiew."
One new feature at SSD is the
updated transportation system. Two
new buses have been put into ser-
vice. Before, a 12 year-old bus pur-
chased from Wayne State University
limped along with quarters support-
ing the wheelchair lift, and fumes
clearing out many students sinuses.
"Now I can get to and from
classes with ease," reported one fre-
quently stranded wheelchair user. "I
often would attempt the snow drifts,
rather than endure the fright of that
"I can't go to evening classes,
club meetings, or the libraries be-
cause I can't get a night ride. The
'Nite Owl' can't accommodate a
wheelchair." The 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ride
schedule limits this mobility im-
paired graduate student. "Basically, I
never leave my dorm after dinner."
SSD is working on this problem.
A proposal had been submitted for
expanding the service hours for
buses. "we want to provide equitable
service. Most students can hop on a
bus until 3:00 a.m. It won't be long
before everyone can," said Julie
Biernat, SSD administrative assis-
Some people talk with their
hands, others let their hands talk. In-
terpreter services is another new addi-

tion to the University. Three years
ago, there was only one first-year
student in need on sign language.
Today, there are seven students seek-
ing the skills of Joni Smith, inter-
preter coordinator, and many enrolled
in her classes.
"In the past year, more than 300
people have signed up for my UAC
course in sign language. Many stu-
dents have expressed an interest in
advancing their knowledge in the
field, and having this language fully
recognized as a foreign language re-
"Michigan State University and
many other Universities nationwide
already do so. As of Fall 1987, sign
language is accepted as a foreign
language requirement at the high
school level," Smith said. Michigan
is behind the times.
Shelia Marquardt, one of the
seven students, said about the ser-
vice, "I think it speaks highly of the
University and the Office of Services
for Students with Disabilities that
they permit students with hearing
impairments to have sign language
instructors and interpreters free of
"It's like, if they can't see your
disability, you must be lying," said
a junior with endometriosis. "Five
days a month I am in sheer agony,
unable to attends class. SSD ar-
ranged for classes to be taped and
notes to be taken so that I could
keep up. They're great!"
Other students with hidden dis-
abilities have need of similar ac-
commodations and now have their

own support group. People with
arthritis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes,
heart disease, AIDS, psychiatric dis-
orders, and learning disabilities, are
meeting weekly to share valuable
experiences and information.
"My first experience with SSD
three years ago was a five minute
conversation with a clerical worker
in a tiny office that I could barely
maneuver in. I left discouraged, ques-
tioning that if the office reflected the
University's support of services for
students with disabilities then what
was I doing here? In three years, the
services have greatly expanded and
DSS has a national reputation,
commented an LSA senior.
The office is presently located in
Haven Hall.
"SSD does a fine job," says grad-
uate student Maxwell Edison. "They
are excellent advocates, giving hand-
icapped individuals the proper respect
they deserve in the work area and in
receiving their education. They also
provided volunteer readers, helped me
find classrooms in buildings, and
even gave me tips on nightly enter-
tainment and happenings on cam-
Eddie Costrini, a PhD candidate
in the School of Pharmacy, summa-
rized what SSD is all about: "There
is equity and relief of prejudice to-
wards disabled students through
knowledge and education."
"Without the efforts of Dar,
Julie, and the Office of Services for
Students with Disabilities, it would
be impossible for me to attend this




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