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February 10, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-10

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 10, 2000

tI11e Sliigau Thtig

Storming the tower: It takes action to be heard

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

It seems pretty simple. If a student organiza-
tion mocks, offends or discriminates
against the cultural identity of a group of peo-
ple it should lose its right to continue occu-

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Dailys editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect
the opinion of The Michigan Daily

pancy of a University
obvious.
So deciding how to
resolve the current
controversy surround-
ing Michigamua, a
secret society housed
in the tower of the
Michigan Union,
shouldn't be a prob-
lem. right?
University officials
should just sit lown
with members of the
group, discuss whether
any Native American
rituals or artifacts are
used during group
activities, decide what
is inappropriate and

building. That seems

Michigamua trauma
Society's derogatory rituals must go

Heather
Kamins

the members of the Students of Color
Coalition to take over the top floors of the
Michigan Union tower in protest of
Michigamua and the two other secret societies,
Phoenix and Vulcan.
Members of the Native American Student
Association said activists have been "fighting"
for more than 30 years against the venerable
Michigamua society that boasts famous alum-
ni like former President Gerald Ford, play-
wright Arthur Miller and hockey coach Red
Berenson. NASA criticizes Michigamua
because of its "culturally destructive appropri-
ation of Native American culture," said SNRE
senior Joe Reilly, co-chair of NASA. But still
the majority of University students never even
heard of Michigamua until this week, and had
no idea that it was ever controversial.
To get noticed, eight student members of
SCC moved into the tower offices, and
changed the locks on the doors. They are
sleeping on the floors of the small
Michigamua office that was architecturally
designed to look like a wigwam, and they are
basically getting by with the supplies they've
stockpiled on a small table, including every-
thing from graham crackers to shaving gel.
Of course, the storming of a campus build-
ing has elicited criticism. Some say the
activism is invasive or too harsh. But it appar-
ently took such bold action to force University
officials to take notice that civil rights may be
being violated on campus.
Now the members of SCC are being lis-
tened to. More than 1.000 people already have
been through the space in the past two days on
SCC's guided tours. Reilly said.
Unfortunately, though, the problem is much
larger than just Michigamua. An open meeting

'last night with members of the University's
administration, including President Lee
Bollinger and Provost Nancy Cantor, attested
to that.
Hundreds of students showed up to hear
how the University is reacting to the SCC
standoff and the 14 demands that the group
submitted in exchange for coming down from
the tower. Included on the list of demands are
greater recruitment of minority faculty, ade-
quate space to house minority student groups
and examination of interaction between the
Department of Public Safety and minority stu-
dents.
I remember being handed a very similar
list at a student protest three years ago. At that
time students were promised a meeting with
University administrators, and they got it.
Some concerns - we may hope a large num-
ber of them - have been addressed, but obvi-
ously not enough.
Last night, one student told the large group
that he came to the University thinking he
would find a diverse and open student body.
He said that today he would tell black prospec-
tive students not to come here because of the
way he has been treated. His words were met
with a huge round of applause.
It is evident that many students here are
hurting. Despite the University's efforts to
defend affirmative action and create a diverse
community, many minority students say they
do not feel comfortable here.
It seems to have necessitated extreme mea-
sures, a takeover of the tower, to remind the
rest of the University community that the
struggle is not over.
- Heather Kamins can be reached via
e-mail at hbk@umich.edu.
GRINDI'1NG"THE NM

M ichigampa, the secret society of
University elite, has a roster that
reads like a who's who of both University
and national history: James Angell, the
University's first President; Gerald Ford,
an American president; Bo Schembechler
and Fielding Yost, revered coaches. Our
"leaders and best" took nicknames such
as "Flippin Back," "The Great Scalper"
and "White Eagle" -- funny to them, but
blatantly derogatory towards Native
American culture. But the nicknames are
only a small part of Michigamua's elabo-
rate traditions, many of which are based
on exploiting a culture's rituals and arti-
facts. Crying racism, the Students of
Color Coalition has taken over the group's
home in the Union tower, and putting
Michigamua's history on full display.
It is hard to like Michigamua -
despite all the alleged charity work they
are slyly attributed to, the group and their
Tower room still reeks of self-congratula-
tory white-male elitism. The current
class includes several minority members,
but the group did not include women
until just two years ago, and the current
prospective pledge class is overwhelm-
ingly male.
Regardless if Gerald Ford and
Fielding Yost are members or not,
Michigamua comes off as little more than
a fraternity without the Greek letters.
And like all other private organization
social groups on campus, Michigamua
has the right to do as they please. This
includes the ridiculous use of Native
American culture. Such references may
have been condoned by society 98 years
ago, but not today's.
In 1989, several Michigamua mem-
bers and the University signed a contract
stating "Michigamua does hereby elimi-
nate all reference to Native American
culture and pseudo-culture and exten-
sions and parodies thereof, with the one
exception being the name, Michigamua,
_ for now and forever."

Judging from the inside of the office,
including photos and Native American
artifacts (some real, some not), they do
not appear to be upholding their end of
the bargain - although it is impossible
to tell what was brought down from the
tower attic by the SCC. But pictures from
1996 and later show members holding
"peace pipes" and other artifacts.
Contrary to popular belief,
Michigamua does not receive any sort of
University financial support. Their occu-
pation of the Union tower is little more
than a shrewd business move, not a sym-
bol of the administration's allegiance to
the group's traditions. Because the group
helped raise money to build the Michigan
Union, they hold an indefinite lease on
the top floors of the Union. This puts the
University in a bind.
Michigamua would prove their inde-
pendent status by vacating the tower, but
it is extremely unlikely that will ever
happen. If Michigamua cannot come
clean and produce prove they are no
longer putting outdated and offensive rit-
uals into practice, then they should vol-
untarily leave.
But as a private organization,
Michigamua has the right to whatever
they please, no matter how offensive. The
KKK has a constitutional right to march,
no matter how terribly warped their
views may be. Here on campus, there are
many organizations whose actions or
messages are hotly debated - such as
campus pro-life and pro-choice groups
- but they are not only allowed to exist,
but receive student group funding.
Michigamua's historic use of Native
American traditions and artifacts is
degrading. If they are still celebrated,
they should be discontinued immediately.
Michigamua members consider them-
selves the "leaders and the best," and it is
embarrassing to think the leaders on our
campus might still embrace offensive
behavior, even if only in secret.

conclude by forcing the group to either aban-
don the questionable practices or vacate the
Union. But of course nothing is that clear cut
- including the problem and the solution. It
takes a lot of theatrics to get a little attention at
this university.
This week, we've seen a lot - the seizing
of a locked part of the Michigan Union. the
hanging of an American flag upside down on
the top of the Union to signal distress and an
angry meeting between students and adminis-
trators. And this week, we've seen many reac-
tions and emotions, most not even about
Michigamua.
It was widespread complacency that drove

rE CHIP CULLEN

STrUDENT CALLS 140 E "..

9

Artifacts should go,
Michigamua should
stay
To THE DAILY:
Michigamua has been in existence on this
campus since 1902. The group has joined to
promote the general good of this campus by
working on projects through their respective
organizations. You don't hear of Michigamua
holding events and doing good things
because they work anonymously, through
other groups. None of themwere on the 7th
floor, of the Union last Saturday night when
the protesters occupied their office because
the majority of them were at Dance
Marathon, raising money for charity.
To state that Michigamua has utilized
Native American rituals in the past is true. To
state that they were wrong in doing so is also
true. To state that all Native American refer-
ences and active by the group should be
removed is also right. What hasn't been rec-
ognized is that Michigamua has worked to
improve the University in mays most of us
can't even fathom for the past 98 years. To
say that Michigamua is racist is 100 percent
incorrect. In fact, Michigamua's spokesman
is a very prominent member of the campus
Latino community, and there is a higher per-
centage of minorities in Michigamua than
there is on campus. We need to see that
although Michigamua has had problems in
the past, they recognize this, and the current
protest is not soundly founded.
I agree with the protest in that I believe all
Native American artifacts and references
should be immediately removed. I disagree
with the protest because individual space has
been violated, a group's private and special
details have been exposed to the public, and
last night I saw the American flag flying
upside down over the Union. This is a blatant
indication to me that the protesters are not
trying to work towards a resolution; people
being given tours of Michigamua are being
led to believe things that are not true of the
organization.
I ask you as students and community
members to please find out what
Michigamua is and has been before you con-
demn it, and I ask University President Lee
Bollinger for the immediate removal of the
protesters from the tower.
MATTHEW NOLAN
LSA FIRST-YEAR STUDENT
MSA EXTERNAL RELATIONS VICE-CHAIR

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Cancer care cannot be unaccessible

Michigamua must
leave Union tower
TO THE DAILY:
The responses shared by Nick Delgado in
Monday's Daily, "Pride 2000" member of
Michigamua, are deceitful and indicative of
the insensitive attitude Michigamua as an
organization has exhibited historically,
regarding their deplorable behavior. In 1989,
Michigamua entered into a written agree-
ment that the organization would discontinue
the utilization of references and practices that
are reflective of Native American culture,
with the exception of the organization's
name.
Delgado stated that "the group has
adhered to the integrity of that written state-
ment and in no way exploits the Native
American culture as it did in the past." Yet
upon the discovery of a journal outlining
Michigamua's initiatives, the content indicat-
ed otherwise. Delgado's adopted name,
"Fighting Wolve 'Latino Unity I Try to
Show' Delgado," appears frequently in each
journal entry.
The meeting room, acquired through an
exclusive provision of space extended by the
University, is adorned with plaques, com-
memorative display cases, traditional Native
American emblems, engravings of script
referring to Native American ethos, and a
host of other items that readily accessible to
the eye. One plaque that is particularly offen-
sive refers to Fielding H. Yost, as "Great
Scalper Yost" and a "Great Chief." The decor
of the room is significant because it facili-

n estimated 2 million women will be
diagnosed with either breast cancer
or cervical cancer in the next ten years.
Of that 2 million, it is predicted that over
500,000 of them will die. Considering
-that these two cancers have recently
developed what many doctors refer to as
"medical miracles," such as laser surgery
for breast cancer and new early detection
devices for both cancers, it is hard to
believe that such a large number of
women will still die. President Bill
Clinton is proposing a $220 million five-
year program to allow states to provide
full Medicaid benefits to women whose
cancers are detected through federally
funded screening programs. Under this
legislation women who are uninsured
would receive Medicaid coverage for the
duration of their treatment of chemother-
apy, radiation and other necessary med-
ical services to aid their diseases.
"Medical miracles" do not come
cheap, and the truth is that many women
can not afford to pay for the proper treat-
ment they need to beat these cancers. For
many single working mothers and lower
class women, they cannot manage to

think beyond a single day's survival, let
alone the future of the rest of their lives.
In consideration of this, President
Clinton is currently seeking new
Medicaid coverage of breast and cervical
cancer to help states eliminate the barri-
ers poor women face in fighting these
diseases. And it is here that Congress
needs to support him in this legislation
and quickly pass this proposal through
the House and Senate.
The five-year survival rate of breast
and cervical cancer is 97 percent when
the diseases are diagnosed early, but that
rate falls to 21 percent after the cancers
have spread. Currently 180,000 women
are diagnosed with such cancers and
more than 40,000 die. Much of this
could be prevented with proper medical
coverage and insurance for people of all
social classes, both men and women.
Congress is elected to speak for all
arenas of people and classes, not just
those who are able to properly provide
for themselves, and therefore they must
bass this bill. It will not only speak for
those of lower classes and opportunities,
but it will save lives.

tates an environment that fosters insensitivity
and cultivates values and traditions that are
blatantly racist.
Delgado stated, "There's a historical con-
text that's being used here - theirs is in the
past, ours is in the present." This statement
along with the aforementioned responses are
particularly trifling, not only because they
insult the intelligence of the public, but bla-
tant attempts to deceive our community as
well. Delgado's promotion of Michigamua
and the administrations affiliation with them
is insidious and quite disheartening.
Michigamua's journal entries indicate that
interim Vice President of Student Affairs
Eunice Royster Harper, Dean of Students
Frank Cianciola, along with a host of
University administrators and officials have
been aware of Michigamua's transgressions
and in some cases are directly affiliated with
them.
The Student of Color Coalition (SCC)
demands that the University sever all affilia-
tion with the Tower Societies, and that the
exclusive provision of space in the tower of
the Michigan Union be eliminated immedi-
ately. In closing we, the SCC, would like to
share an engraving we found etched into the
wall, "Now this is the law of the jungle, as old
and as true as the sky, and the wolve that shall
keep may prosper, but the wolve that shall
break it must die, as the creeper that girdles
the tree trunk, the law runneth toward and
back, for the strength of the pack is the
wolve, and the strength of the wolve is the
pack - The Law of the Jungle."
KEVIN JONES
UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS
"Well ... I don't know ..." he stammered.I
laughed even harder - I know a cold fish
when I see one, and this guy was a macker-
el.
A friend of mine had an even worse situ-
ation a few months back. I introduced her to
a guy I knew, whom she thought was cute.
One thing led to another, and eventually they
got to know each other - in the biblical
sense. He actually told her to use him for her
pleasure (no joke), and so she took him up
on his offer. However, it became evident that
they had "nothing in common but physical
attraction," as she said, and even that was
getting old, so she ended it. Here's the catch:
He was certain he had broke her heart. He
simply could not believe she wasn't in it for
comething serious. Have vou ever heard the

In defense of thefemalefisher

used to fish. Now, you'd take one look at
my four-inch-heeled boots and my
glossed lips and
laugh, but it's true.
My father, grandfa-
ther and I used to go
out on our boat earlyS
on summer morn-
ings, before the sun
had risen, and throw
our lines into the
lake. And we would
wait, and wait, and
wait, until one of us
would get a bite. My Camille
problem was that Noe
once I caught a fish, I
-os. ~ ' I-ant to i&

relationship for a while, but pretty soon it felt
like we were both swimming in a fish bowl,
so I quickly ended up in the same place I
began.
Over the past four years at University,
I've grown to realize I'm not the only woman
with a commitment problem. There are plen-
ty of us out there, but we're simply assumed
to be at college for our "Mrs.," so we're
largely overlooked. A lot of women approach
dating with the assumption that most men
have a problem maintaining a committed
relationship. But on the flipside, the majori-
ty of men I know assume that every woman
wants a rock on her finger. I suppose it
makes sense. It seems that every time I turn
around, someone else is engaged. But that
dn vv'tmean 1 - nor rn other woman -

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