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September 03, 1997 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-03

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PNe STiDin aTig

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Section .
Wednesday, September 3, 1997

Let go, open up,
iscover new
paths in college

Campus activism ar from a dead issue

"Everything our parents told us was
good is bad: sun, milk, red meat, col-
-Woody Allen, 'Annie Hall," 1977
hile we're all aware of pre-
mature aging and high cho-
lesterol, even comic genius
Allen missed the boat on the popular
conception of college. It's a truly unique
experience, no matter if you're on the
plan or you intend to milk higher educa-
tion for all it's worth. For most students,
college is their first chance to determine
a schedule of work and play, set their
o curfews, and exanine the possibili-
t f subsisting entirely on beer and
Skittles - a time for drafting their own
declaration of independence.
In the process, you may well discover
that a good number of the things your
parents told you were good are bad;
political ideologies, religious beliefs,
ideas of a "worth-
while" degree,
'1re and perspectives
on sex, feature
films and the job
market are all
likely to waver
from the gospel
ERIN according to Mom
MARSH and Dad.
MARSH Going home
MADNESS again will proba-
bly not be the
same. Lots of
people and places you found delightful
amusing are no longer so delight-
and amusing. You might face some
flack from the home team for the ways
in which you've evolved, but remem-
ber: The growing you experience grad-
ually is a sudden shock to the crowd
that's missed the transition. It doesn't
have to be a problem. Changes are
often accompanied by some degree of
stress or anxiety - and at times this
anxiety is a powerful force - but part
emerging from the University an
llectually mature person requires
some challenging. Your University
experience may include heavy-duty
examination of yourself, your parents,
your plans and your dreams. That's
OK. That's the way it should be.
A lot of it is about letting go.
No one is exempt from this.
Somewhere right now, First Daughter
Chelsea is packing up her posters, giv-
a last look around her White House
oom, and kissing Bill, Hillary and
Socks goodbye. Chelsea's already made
strides: She bucked Yale (the perennial
favorite of presidential offspring) to
soak up some rays at Stanford. Consider
yourselves lucky - you don't face the
daunting task of defying a dad who
leads the free world. But Chelsea -
like the rest of us - will inevitably
choose different paths and take on new
perspectives when she leaves home.
'I refuse to live in a place where the
only cultural advantage is that you can
turn right on a red light."-W Allen
Part of the challenge and discovery
will happen as a result of mingling
your views with those of others. These
late-night, informal, occasionally
intoxicating (or intoxicated) debates
can run the gamut from serious to
Oiously hilarious; some can inspire
great conversation and insight, while
others, um, won't.
Predictions: You will insist it's
"soda" or insist it's "pop." You will
engage in the East Coast vs. Midwest
discussion maddeningly frequently,
and eventually realize that - guess
what! - everybody comes from some-
where and somewhere is not located all

in the same state or region. Wielding a
e polo mallet in such discussions
I get you nowhere, nor will pledg-
ing inferiority or superiority win
points. Give others the same freedom
of opinion for which you strive. Enjoy
your differences. Save the insult-swap-
ping for issues of importance, like the
Michigan-Ohio State football game.
Moreover, the variety of people you
encounter will open doors and open
your eyes. Do a lot of listening, and
serve carefully - the subtleties of
human interaction will probably teach
you more about life than anything
you'll record in a blue book. The most
startling, amazing and important
lessons I learned at the University will
not be inscribed on my diploma.
Most of all, use this time to assess
the roads that have brought you here

By Partha Mukhopadhyay
Daily Editorial Page Writer
If you look beyond the United States, dramatic
images of student activism remain in full flight.
From the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989
to the streets of Seoul and Sarejevo earlier this
year, massive showings of student power have
graced American television screens. But here, at
home, where the streets lack similar activity, stu-
dents are compared to the previous generation, and
found lacking.
And the question, "Is student activism dead?" is
tossed around like a football.
In a way, asking this question is unfair - the
previous generation had a civil rights movement in
full swing, an undoubtedly corrupt president and a
wildly unpopular war to protest. This generation,
on the other hand, is left with the spoils of their tri-
umphs, however small, and the relative comfort
brought about by their efforts.
According to those who believe student

activism has breathed its last breath in the
United States, that paradox is the very problem
with student activism these days - the overrid-
ing concerns present in earlier days have largely
vanished, leaving today's students few obvious
issues to contest.

By way of compari-
son, "Have cause, will
protest" might well have
been a motto for the
1960s. The issues were
very public, protests
very easy to join and
very attractive to stu-

Student a
has not d
rather, a

else, the activists of the 1960s and early 1970s
worked on truly national issues - civil rights
demonstrators in Washington or Chicago marched
to change conditions for black Americans across
the United States. Protesters against the Vietnam
War worked to end a conflict affecting both U.S.
mnetropolises and isolated
Vietnamese villages.
As the 1960s ended, and the
Vietnam Wa'r slowly wound
ledbut down, the face of activism -
especially college students'
ivolvedE involvement in such activities
- changed. In 1970, the first
Black Action Movement
occurred on the University campus. Beginning
March 20, activists proclaimed a general strike
against the University. Over the next 10 days, class
attendance dropped severely, as black activists lob-
bied on behalf of minorities. For compelling the
University to set a goal of a 10 percent minority

population, BAM I is considered among the high
points of student activism in Univcrsity history.
The action's goals and effects. as compared to
another campus activism highlight - the
Vietnam War teach-ins conducted during the
1 )C0s - serve as an early sign of the direction
student activism was to take. Protests against
Vietnam concerned an issue affecting the whole
country., By way of comparison, the direct
effcts of BAM 1 served only to improve and
expand the role of minorities on the Ann Arbor
campus. While the action may have helped stu-
dents at other universities, the goals set by those
activists were local, rather than national in
Over the subsequent 27 years, student activism
has largely followed the example set by RAM I
and the tenet, "think globally, act locally." In the
1990s, student activism rarely puts forth a con-
certed effort against national issues. Even when

dents. Furthermore, the
causes attracted sustained interest.
Protests over the war lasted from its earliest days
to its bitter end. Minorities and their supporters
struggled throughout the 1960s and into the next
decade to receive the rights accorded them under
the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. Perhaps above all


.... ........ .

i Mill I

" or the University to achieve excellence in teaching and research in the ears ahead, for it to serve our state, our nation
world, we simply must achieve and sustain a campus community recognized or its racial and ethnic diversity."
- Former University President James Duderstadt
Taken from the foreword to "The Michigan Mandate,"

and the
March, 1990


should fight for

campus diversity

By Jack Schillaci
Daily Editorial Page Writer
The University likes to brag about
campus diversity.
Reading through the dozens of flyers
and bulletins first-year students
received this summer, they no doubt
read about the University's efforts to
enhance the learning experience by
seeking out a diverse campus popula-
Campus diversity is important - it
contributes significantly to the
University's academic mission.
Diversity has made a significant
enhancement to campus by expand-
ing students' learning experience
beyond the classroom. It allows stu-
dents to learn about the wealth of
unique cultures, beliefs and ideas of
people from a myriad of different
But campus diversity comes neither
easily nor without opposition. In many
ways, maintaining it has proven to be a
constant battle.
Protests, arguments and heated
shouting characterize the debate sur-
rounding affirmative action, one of the
backbones of the University's diversity

University campus vastly more
diverse and have opened up previ-
ously unavailable opportunities to
women and underrepresented
minorities. The mandate has helped
diversify the University campus by
increasing minority enrollment by
more than 10 percent between 1988
and 1994.
The programs' detractors claim that
what the two programs implement is' lit-
tle more than reverse discrimination -
giving minorities the upperhand over
non-minorities that previously enjoyed
benefits of institutionalized racism and
sexism. Opponents of affirmnative
action view anti-discrimination laws as
ample to guarantee a gender- and color-
blind world.
If onlyit were that simple. Making
discriminatory policies illegal does not
eradicate their requisite beliefs.
Vestiges of previous racism and sexism
such as the "good old boys' network"
exist today, making it difficult for
women and minorities to get equal
opportunities, despite anti-discrimina-
tion laws. University admissions poli-
cies look go beyond measuring appli-
cants based on test scores and grade

Above: Marchers proceed down South
University Avenue on Martin Luther
King Day. The University is home to
one of the country's largest Martin
Luther King Day commemorations,
hosting a variety of speeches, forums
and panel discussions, as well as a tra-
ditional march moving down South
University Avenue to the Diag.
Right: Engineering senior Delano White
gags himself with a white cloth last
January as part of "A Day Without
Diversity," an event organized by some
minority students to protest what they
saw as a dishonest discussion of race
by students and administrators.
Rep. Deborah Whyman (R-Canton
Twp.) called "clearly illegal" policies
factoring race into admissions deci-
Whyman and the other three -
Reps. David Jaye (R-Washington
Twp.), Michelle McManus (R-
Traverse City), Greg Kaza (R-
Rochester Hills) - have set out to
find an affirmative-action martyr.
They want someone who feels they

Court of Appeals decision in
Hopwood v. University of Texas Law
School. In the case, the court decided
that using race as a factor in higher-
education admissions violated anti-
discrimination laws.
But the legislators do not pose the
only judicial threat to affirmative
action's continued use. In the U.S.
Supreme Court's next term, starting in
October, it will face a case that could

But without such programs, all of
the benefits of diversity are blocked.
The University of California system
ended the use of affirmative action in
admissions more than a year ago and
since, the number of minorities in the
university's graduate programs have
plumetted - proving that affirmative
action does indeed support a diverse
Beside the barrage of attacks being



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