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October 01, 1992 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-10-01

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - October 1,1992- Page 3

'Multi-culturalism' at University not what expected

by Jessie Halladay
A year ago, I walked into a dance
for incoming first-year students at
the University of Michigan and was
shocked. Everyone was doing the
"white person dance."
College, I suddenly realized, was
going to be a lot different.
Basically, "white person danc-
ig" is a non-rhythmical bounce. It
has no steps, requires no concentra-
tion and sorely lacks imagination.
it's not the type of dancing that you
typically see at a primarily Black
high school, which is what I at-
tended. I.n fact I would be embar-
i-assed to do it, and I am far from be-
ing a great dancer.
Let me clear this up, I am white. I
grew up in a predominantly Black
neighborhood in Detroit. Now I am
living in predominantly white Ann
Arbor. This means that among the
many usual adjustments to college
life, I have spent the last year trying
to learn how to live in the majority,
how to fit into a culture that is sup-

posed to be mine but. I often don't
understand - and don't even know
if I want to.
There were many times when I
was the only white face in a Black
crowd. It never bothered me. Now I
am one of many white faces and
sometimes it bothers me.
My parents taught me not to tol-
erate prejudice. I think that's why it
was never important to me what
color the people around me were. It
still isn't. But now I am among a
new group of people and it is more
important to them.
Before I started school last fall, I
was scared to face the prejudice that
inevitably would surface. But I knew
I would have to. However, I thought
that I would try to do something to
make the initial confrontation a little
easier when it came.
Soon after school began, I joined
the "multi-cultural" group in my
residence hall. I thought this would
be a place for me to have fellowship

with people of similar backgrounds,
people who understand the tragedy
of prejudice and racism. Little did I
know that "multi-cultural" at this
university seems to be a euphemism
for Black. The tension at the first
meeting was thick as I felt everyone
wondering if my roommate and I,
the only two white people in the
room, were in the right place.
The time to face the prejudice
had come. Only it wasn't what I had
expected. The difference was that
the prejudice wasn't coming from a
white person, but from a group
joined together to create "multi-cul-
tural" unity. I had been prepared to
deal with prejudice from other white
people. It came as a bigger blow to
have it come from the people with
whom I had expected to feel com-
fortable.
Becoming a member of this
group really woke me up to the real-
ity I had hoped I could ignore. No
longer will people assume that I am

not prejudiced, as they did at my
high school. Just the opposite, peo-
ple of color will often assume I am
biased so they can protect them-
selves from hostility. The funny
thing is that I don't blame them. It
seems to be an effective way of pro-
tection. What better way to shield
oneself from unwanted aggravation?
I've also met with the kind of
prejudice that I expected to en-
counter the most. Some white people
I have met feel less inhibited about
making prejudiced statements in
front of me because my skin color
does not indicate my background or
values.
One day I was having a conver-
sation with a newly made friend,
when the conversation switched to
race. She very candidly said that she
does not like Black people. She has
come to this decision because she
comes from a relatively small city in
Michigan. She came to her conclu-
sion in the same way that I think

many people do, by judging an entire
group by the actions of a couple of
individuals. Although she knows
that I am from Detroit, she felt that
on some level I would be able to
connect with her because I am white.
The problem is that I don't connect.
But all I did was politely nod and
say, "Well, that's your opinion."
I have always voiced my views
about racism. Maybe not everyone
agreed with me, but I was never
afraid to say how I felt. But this time
I kept my initial feelings to myself,
denying my instinct to speak out.
My biggest fear when I came to
the University was that I would give
in to peer pressure. That I wouldn't
say how I felt because it would be
difficult. And I was right, it is easier
to keep quiet and not start anything,
like I did with my friend. At the ori-
entation dance I went out in the
hallway to dance the dances I know,
the ones I felt comfortable with. I

went out into the hallway so I
wouldn't stick out, so I wouldn't be
different.
I realize that in the scheme of
things, dancing is a trivial issue -
what counts is one's values. It used
to scare me that my values might be
different, but now that I'm starting
my second year here, I realize I
don't mind. I want them to stick out,
I want to come out of the hallway
and on to the dance floor. Because if
I don't. do it, than how can expect
anyone else to? How can I expect
anything to change?
I think I finally know how to live
in the majority. The trick is that I
don't have to live any differently.
All I have to do is be myself.
Sometimes I have to go the extra
mile to make sure that people know
who that is, but it's worth it. Even if
it only means that I haven't sacri-
ficed my values.

Rare book room puts students in touch with unusual materials

y Darnell Jones
Good things are hard to find, es-
pecially when they're rare. That is
Omless you've been to the Special
Collections library.
Special Collections, located on
the seventh floor of the graduate li-
brary, is just that--a special collec-
tion of rare and costly books and
pther notable records from the past
and present. Although it is called a
library, this is not your typical go-
get-a-book-to-do-a-paper-library.
It's really much more: a museum-li-
brary hybrid.
Like a museum, the library
houses masterpieces, literary mas-
terpieces. An area for exhibits dis-
play these works which are encased
in glass. The museum ambiance is
carried through to the sign that reads
Please No Flash Pictures."
Like a library, Special Collec-
tions allows its visitors to handle the
material, although delicately and
with some rules. "We have the
responsibility to take a very long
term view of the use of the materials
we have," said Peggy Daub, Head of
The Special Collections library.
"Like other librarians, we're caught
in the dilemma of saving things so
that the next user has something
there instead of just shreds of paper;
'but also make it accessible enough
to get what they need for their
studies."
The library goes to great lengths
to preserve the sometimes delicate
materials it houses. Library patrons
must lay books on foam rubber
stands so that the book does not
scrape against the table surface.
Also, Lucite paperweights wrapped

'If you don't have places that save these types
of papers, they're not going to available to
people at all.'
- Martha Terre!! Harris, library user

The Labadie Rare Book Collection, in the Graduate Library, features old books such as this one on display. The
library is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

"First. editions are the most im-
portant," Arribas said, "It's the clos-
est we have right now to the real
16th century. [Special Collections]
has books that those people used to
read."
Matt Wyszynski, also pursuing a
Master's degree in Spanish litera-
ture, agrees. "They had a couple
books here I couldn't get anywhere
else. A lot of the books they don't
reprint so the only book you can get
is the original direct from the 16th
century."
Contrary to past years, student
use in this library has been on the
rise. "In the time I've been here, I
have found that students are coming
in because we are being better
publicized," said Kathleen Dow, a
reference worker for Special collec-
tions. "Not just undergraduate stu-
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dents, but graduate students, we get
a wide variety of patrons with a
wide variety of needs."
Martha Terrell Harris, an em-
ployee of Lynchburg Museum
Systems in Virginia, traveled to the
Special collection library in search
of records for a family history. "If
you don't have places that save these
types of papers, they're not going to
available to people at all," Harris
said. "A lot of these papers may be
in peoples' basements or their attics
hidden away and they never get
used, but when a facility like this
takes the papers, it's helpful."
The Special Collections Library is
open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-noon
and 1-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-
noon. The Robinson Crusoe
Collection, their ne west exhibit,
opens October 5.
UM

in soft velvet, called "snakes," must
be used to hold pages open to mini-
mize hand to page contact. In some
cases, gloves must be worn.
Beginning in the early 20th cen-
tury, Special Collections is a pio-
neering organization and through the
acquisition of rarities throughout
the years, the library has developed
collections of international dis-
tinction. Such collections include the
literary and biblical texts written on
papyrus. The papyrus collection,
dating from the third century B.C., is

the largest and most distinguished in
the western hemisphere.
Another notable collection is the
Labadie Collection, named after
Joseph Labadie, a prominent Detroit
anarchist who donated it to the li-
brary in 1911. Originally a special
collection centered upon anarchist
materials, it now embraces a wide
variety of social protest literature.
Ed Weber, librarian in charge of
the Labadie collection, says it is one
of the most frequently used collec-
tions by university students.

Students use the Labadie as a re-
source for term papers and it's popu-
lar with graduate students as vital
material for dissertations. Weber not
only encourages students to use the
Labadie collection, but "anyone with
intellectual curiosity."
Curiosity did not bring Julian
Arribas to Special Collections. A
fifth year graduate student, Arribas
is searching for materials for his dis-
sertation in Spanish literature that
can only be found in the Special
Collections library.

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Marge Piercy to teach creative writing
an terature course as visiting professor
by Gwen Shaffer

TO N I G H T 103 WIQB PRESENTS

The woman who has inspired
thousands of U-M students with her
leftist politics and feminist ideals
will be teaching a course here later
this month.
Marge Piercy, author of 11 nov-
els and 13 books of poetry, is being
brought to the U-M through the
Honors Program as the recipient of
the DeRoy Distinguished Visiting
Professorship. Students in an honors
creative writing and literature course
taught by Nancy Kushigian this
semester are currently reading
Piercy's fiction for the first half of
the class.
Piercy will come to campus Oct.
25 and critique the students' fiction.
:Piercy, who grew up in Detroit
and graduated from the U-M in
1957, is widely read in women's
studies classes because of her strong
feminist approach to literature. Both
Piercy's fiction and poems are em-
bedded with social issues.

'Ms. Piercy was mainly chosen because she is a
distinguished Michigan alumna who won
several Hopwood Awards while she was here.'

-- Liina Wallin
University Honors Program

associate director,

Kushigian is a former associate
director for the honors program and
is currently working on women's
educational issues of the 18th and
19th centuries. The course is a 400-
level class, comprised of primarily
English literature majors.
"Ms. Piercy was mainly chosen
because she is a distinguished
Michigan alumna who won several.
Hopwood Awards while she was
here," said Liina Wallin, associate
director for the honors program.
"Several of her novels mention the
University."
The DeRoy Foundation was es-
tablished to fund a lecture series for

the honors program. Through the
foundation, a diverse group of "dis-
tinguished" people have served as
visiting professors, ranging from
prime ministers to union presidents,
Wallin said.
On November 2, Piercy will hold a
book signing at Shaman Drum
Bookstore. Piercy will give a free
lecture, "Women and Utopian
Fiction," Wednesday, Nov. 11 at the
Alumni Center. She will also be
reading from her work November 9
at Rackham Auditorium, to be fol-
lowed by a reception for undergrad-
uate University students.

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