The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 4,1993-3
*Preaching politics, Stoney Burke clowns on the Diag
By KART ELSILA
FOR THE DAILY
Hearrives surreptitiously atnoon, a
man in multi-colored striped pants and
red, whiteandbluehigh-tops. Carrying
asmall suitcase, he slowlywalks around
the Diag, sizing up the situation. Spot-
*ing a preaching evangelist, self-de-
scribed "Stand-up Agitator" Stoney
Burke closes in on his target.
"Taking care of this planet is a big
job," he yells, whipping off a beret to
revealhis sparse, greenhair. "Youcan't
sell people on the idea of a perfect life
afterwards. TheUnited States is afree
country based on the separation of
ering Christians make me sick."
The evangelistbacks up, a startled
look on his face, as a crowd starts to
form. Burke smiles; he knows he has
Burke-whosetrademarks are his
clown suit and dyed hair - has pa-
raded across the country for 20 years,
been arrested as many times and once
ended up in amental institution. "I've
been charged with everything there is,"
Burke said. "Disturbing thepeace, ob-
scenity in a public place, using lan-
guage thatcould lead to violence, tres-
it, ifhe can accomplish his mission: to
"getpeople to think by providing them
with an opposing point of view. I see
Nmyselfas an experiment, where people
can confront and challenge me and
*theirown beliefs. That's whattheDiag's
all about- the First Amendment and
His shows begin and end spontane-
ously. "I come with no script. I count
on the street energy to get me going. I
bring things in my suitcase to give me
ideas, like newspapers and otherprops,
but I have to get a high energy level
going, because the audience often has a
lowattention span. The costumehelps
His aggressive spoutings ruffle
some feathers. A show last week was
interrupted by a police officer, who
warned him to watch his language.
Curiosity later drew her back. She
approached Burke and asked what he
was lecturing about. "Peace and poli-
tics," Burke replied. "You werepretty
good out there, but don't rip on us
(police) so much," the officer said.
"Hey, I got to defend my turf just
like you defend yours," Burke said.
Burke admitted, "Sometimes I
think I go too far, and it's good to get
that feedback. But I get my feelings
hurt too. I guess I fit the cliche of a
"I was truly achild of theLeft,"said
Burke, who isnow40 years old. "In the
mid-'70s, as the Vietnam War was
ending, I saw some evangelists in the
University of Michigan Diag. I thought
there should be more viewpoints, so I
starteddoing my shows."
These shows havebeen performed
atdifferent colleges across the country,
atBerkley and Columbia University.
Although his acts often urge stu-
dents to drop out of school and avoid
being "brainwashed," Burke saidhe is
a strong advocate of education. He
receivedhis Bachelorof Arts in speech
and communications in 1991 from San
Francisco State University.
"My father was a teacher," Burke
said, "and I strongly believe in educa-
tion, but not the institution. It's too
often a top-heavy oligarchy. When
you see undergraduate education be-
ing cutatMichigan but see pay raises,
it just makes me ask 'Is this educa-
tion? What are we learning?"'
Burke's "Clown Prince of Poli-
tics" is an intentionally-created per-
sona. "I am an actor. I do turn this off
and on, although what I say is what I
believe," he said.
Burke notably turned it on at the
1984 Democratic National Convention.
"I got in with a security pass and gave
a speech on homelessness, dressed up
in my Uncle Sam costume," Burke
related. "The Secret Service caughtme
and sent me to San Francisco General
Hospital for psychiatric detention. I
was there for 72 hours, then sent to
Oakland Psychiatric Hospital for ob-
but two weeks later, I received a bill
from them for $250.I thoughtthat was
thereal testofmy sanity-if Ipaidthe
bill, I figured they'dknow I was crazy."
The man who aspires to be a "Left-
the political teeter-totter into balance"
says he thinks his message is sinking in
gradually. Burke pointed out thatUni-
versity PresidentJames Duderstadtre-
ferred to him by name at a faculty
meeting, and thinks that although stu-
dents may ignorehim in thebeginning,
"they'll start thinking about the issues
raised after a few shows."
To support himself financially,
Burke drives taxis. He finds his shows
a welcome freedom from
breadwinning. "Outhere, I'mjust try-
ing to get myself and the audience to
think. I'mjust trying to find a territory
where I can get my two cents in, and
there'snothing likeagoodDiag show."
Students seem to agree. During a
recent show, fans walked by yelling
"Go Stoney" and "Right on." After
Self-described "Stand-up Agitator" Stoney Burke entertains and enlightens University students with political rhetoric.
the show, a student complimented
him, "You were great." Burke cor-
rected him, saying, "We were great-
it takes two."
Ann Arbor resident Jasper
Vasconcellos said, "I think he's pretty
funny. He's got a good view on poli-
tics, and I think he's more effective
than the preachers. He's not tossing
dogma around - we get to hear his
KimRoberts,a first-year Engineer-
ing student, said, "I like it because the
Diag should have both liberal and
conservative views represented. I
think he has a point, and by being
entertaining and sarcastic he get the
Burke said he has many plans for
the future, including a book about his
life and a public access television show,
Burke's antics at last year's Republi-
can National Convention-including
an interview with Neil Bush - titled
"Stoney Does Houston." Produced
with Bob Hercules, a University
graduate, the video will air on the
Discovery channel in the neatfuture.
Finally, he said he hopes to return
to school to pursue a doctoral degree.
Meanwhile, his message can be heard
every Tuesday and Friday on theDiag.
"My basicphilosophy," Burke con-
cluded, "is peace and love and trusting
nature's way. The earth is our home,
and this is where we must work outour
final solutions to everything. My search
is for the universal - the universal
truth that pulls us together as human
Abilities week kicks offS
'by ZACHARY RAIMI
FOR THE DAILY
The University will be sponsoring
several events to highlight the needs
and opportunities of students with
disablilites this week.
The program -which begins to-
day with the annual meeting of the
Council for Disablilty Concerns - is
lanned with the statewide observance
f"Investing in Ability Week 1993."
University Ability Week Coordi-
nator Brian Clapham, who works in the
Affirmative Action Office, said he
hopes the week'sactivities will inform
people about "the ways in which dis-
abled students do things, and to deal
with the myths and stereotypes people
have about handicapped people."
Throughout the week, the Univer-
*ity will sponsor several seminars, edu-
cational videos and a speaker. These
eventswill focus on how students with
disabilities can function at the Univer-
sity and in the job market.
Ability Week has been recognized
inthe state since 1988, andtheUniver-
sity has participated since 1990.
Clapham said student response to
pastprograms has been positive. "(Stu-
dents) thought it was a worthwhile
week. They want tohave people aware
of its purpose," he said.
LSA sophomore Richard Bernstein,
who attended the activities last year
said they were informative."Thespeak-
ers are very motivational and educa-
tional.... (They) show how oneperson
can make a difference, emphasizing
the notion of the power of one."
Jill McMahon, a graduate student
in geological sciences, said she en-
courages everyone-notjust disabled
students -to attend.
"If it's attended by non-disabled
people, it serves itspurpose," she said.
On the state level, PatrickCannon,
the executive director of the Governor's
said he is "real pleased with the way the
week has grown and more and more
employers are learning that employing
people with disabilities makes sense."
While the week's activities will
provide much information for disabled
services around campus, a copy of the
Disability Resource Guide is available
at the Affirmative Action Office on the
sixth floorof the Fleming Building, or
by calling 747-1387 or763-0235.
Clinton's NIH appointee to
support 'U' research funds
By JANET BURKITT
FOR THE DAILY
Faculty and students involved with
research at the University are antici-
pating how President Clinton's ap-
pointment of Dr. Harold Vatmus as
the new director of the National Insti-
tutes of Health (NIH) will affect them.
With an annual budget of more
than $10 billion, NIH provides more
than half of the federal government's
support for university research, and is
the largest source of research grants
for the University. In the 1992-93
fiscal year the University utilized $144
million in research expenditures from
Clinton publicly announced his
choice of Varmus for the post Aug. 4,
although Varmus has notyet been con-
firmed by the U.S. Senate.
A professor of microbiology, bio-
physics and biochemistry at the Uni-
versity of California at San Francisco,
Varmus was awarded the Nobel Prize
in Physiology or Medicine with his
colleague Michael Bishop in 1989 for
their work concerning oncogenes -
mutated genes that could cause cancer.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
identifies Varmus as one of the
country's top research scientists.
Irwin Goldstein, the associate dean
for research and graduate studies in the
Medical School, calls Varmus "an ex-
cellent individual," and expects the
leadership of Varmus will have a ben-
eficial effect on the University.
"Varmus is a strong supporter of
basic research, and I am confident that
he will do everything he can to support
funding for research. The overall senti-
ment in the Medical School is very
Others do not expect that the ap-
pointment of Varmus will have any
major impact on the University.
Jim Randolph, senior project rep-
resentative for the Division of Re-
search Development and Adminis-
tration (DRDA), claims that although
Varmus could influence what areas of
research receive funding, he will have
limited power to change the amount
of money the University receives.
"Since the director has little influ-
ence over individual grants, I would
anticipate very little, if any, immediate
and direct effect on the funding for the
University or any other research uni-
LSA junior Dan Gebhardt, who
conducted research for NIH over the
summer, claimed the University will
have influence with NIH no matter
who the director is because of another
"Francis Collins, aresearcher from
the U-M, just got chosen to head the
Human Genome Project, so Michigan
will be well-represented there no mat-
Eyes are on
LANSING (AP) - In the most
crucial speech ofhis career, Gov. John
Engler this week will tell the Legisla-
ture how he wants to rebuild
Michigan's school finance system.
His speech tomorrow, which also
0will call for changes in school policy,
will start months of intensive work
on education issues for lawmakers.
The fate of Engler's plan and the
resulting health of Michigan's schools
will play abig part in Engler's bid for
re-election next year and the final
Engler as he prepares to
grades onhis less-government, lower-
Lawmakersand theirpolitical hopes
also have a huge stake in how the
school dilemma comes out.
Engler'sspeechcaps weeksof work,
debate and worry following lawmak-
ers' surprise vote in July toend the use
of property taxes for school operations.
That created a $6.3 billion hole in
school revenues, and Engler's speech
is the first step in filling that void.
"I think it's critically important,
not so much for the contents of the
speech but just the fact that nobody is
prepared todo athing on school reform
until the governor does something,"
who edits anewsletter, "InsideMichi-
"It's important politically because
it is the opening gun in the legislative
campaign to refinance public educa-
tion. If this thing ends up as a total
disaster, it will destroy him politi-
"It's as least as pivotal for Engler as well as
as Clinton's health care plan" is for gan resid
the president, Ballenger said. state, hes
Key parts ofEngler'sproposal will The a
be the level of school funding, which age is ab
taxes will be raised and how much, each $1,0
whether school districts will be able to The g
levy local taxes, the size of the gap include a
between the richestand poorest school tate. The
districts, and policy changes such as Truscott;
schools of choice and charter schools. was 4 per
Engler spokesperson John $75,0001
Truscott confirmed Friday reports in Trusc
several newspapers that the governor narrow th
wants to ask voters to raise the sales rich andp
tax from 4 percent to 6 percent. All di
Engler also wants to put a 16-mill $4,500 fo
property tax on all business property grant wou
for school funding
the second homes of Michi-
ents and those from out of
verage school operating mill-
out 37 mills. A mill is $1 for
D00 in assessed valuation.
overnor's package also will
new transfer tax on real es-
level hasn't been set yet,
said. But, for example, if it
rcent, the tax on the sale of a
home would be $3,000.
Ott said the plan also would
he spending gap between the
stricts would be guaranteed
reach pupil. That foundation
uld cover nearly all education
costs, including Social Security pay-
ments. That would cover about300 of
the state's 562 districts.
Districts thatnow spend $4,500 to
$6,500 per pupil would be held harm-
less, meaning they would get the same
amountofmoney. About 200 districts
fit in thatcategory.
The top-spending districts, which
spend as much as $10,000 per pupil,
would be reimbursed up to $6,500.
They would be able to ask voters to
approve millages to get more money.
The plan also calls for expanding
charter schools, which are operatedby
outside organizations but publicly
funded. Detroit this year started achar-
ter school run by Wayne State.
U Association for Computing
Machinery, general meeting,
EECS Building, Room 1500,7
U Comedy Company Writer's
Meeting, sponsored by UAC,
Michigan Union, Room 2105,
O ENACT-UM, meeting, Dana
Building, Room 1046,7 p.m.
O Ninjutsu Club, regularmeeting,
IM Building, Wrestling Room,
formed Church, 928 E. Ann St.,
U Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do Club,
beginners welcome, CCRB,
Room 2275, 8:30 p.m.
U Tae Kwon Do Club, training
session, CCRB, Room 2275, 7
U United We Stand America, or-
ganizational meeting, Modern
Language Building, Room
2002, 7 p.m.
neering and Science students,
sponsorsed by the College of
Engineering and the Interna-
tional Center, EECS, Room
1001,7 p.m., call 764-9310 for
U Polymeric's Acetylide Com-
plexes of Group 10 Metals,
Inorganic Seminar by Glen
Southard, Chemistry Building,
Room 1640, 4 p.m.
United We Stand America
The University of Michigan
will have its organizational meeting
Tonight at 7 pm