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September 29, 2005 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-29

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Paul Welistone: The Life
of a Passionate Progressive
By Bill Lofy
Courtesy of The University of Michigan Press, Copyright 2005
Paul Wellstone was a U.S. Senator from Minnesota from 1990 until the time of his death in a plane crash in 2002.
A hero to many on the left and a favorite target of the right, Wellstone was an unapologetic liberal in an increasingly
conservative era.
Wellstone entered politics after a two-decade career as a teacher and organizer. A professor at Carleton College in
Northfield, Minnesota for 21 years, Wellstone was an unconventional scholar and accomplished grassroots organizer. It
was during his immersion in protest politics at Carleton that Wellstone developed the techniques and leadership skills
that would eventually help him become a U.S. senator. - Bill Lofy

I'd say I'm completely neutral
toward the tradition, as long
as the tradition isn't wak-
ing me up in the morning.

n the fall of 1969, Wellstone arrived
in Minnesota, entering a political
environment notably different from the
conservatism of North Carolina, where
he received his undergraduate degree
and PhD from the University of North
Carolina. These were the glory days of
Minnesota liberalism. The Democratic
Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), the product
of a 1943 merger between Minnesota
Democrats and the influential Farmer-
Labor movement, held a vice grip on
power in the state. Hubert Humphrey
was returning to the United States Sen-
ate, where he had served since 1949,
after four years as vice president under
Lyndon Johnson. Eugene McCarthy was
completing his second and final term in
the Senate, and Walter Mondale was fin-
ishing his first term as senator.
At Carleton College, Wellstone
immersed himself in campus activism
- organizing protests, criticizing the
school's administration for its ties to
corporate interests, and speaking out on
every issue, minor and major, affecting
the community. "It was clear," said Sy
Schuster, one of Wellstone's Carleton
friends and colleagues, "that he was less
concerned about academic political sci-
ence than about political science directly

Courtesy of Bill Lofy
Sen. Paul Welistone (D-Minn.) fought an ambitious political agenda in
the 1990s. Bill Lofy, the author of a biography of Wellstone, will read
portions of his book on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in Hutchins Hall.


servicing people's needs." Wellstone fre-
quently included community service and
organizing projects as part of his class-
room curriculum.
As a teacher, Wellstone is remem-
bered for his passion and uncommon
ability to relate to his students. When he
arrived at Carleton at the age of 25, his
students were not much younger than he
was, and they viewed Wellstone, who
looked, acted, and talked like them, as a
contemporary. One of his students recol-
lected being a freshman in Wellstone's
first class as a professor:
"Like me, he wore t-shirts and jeans
to class and seemed to pay scant atten-
tion to the reading list he'd assigned,
except that he had an amazing com-
mand of facts that he used to support
his lectures, which actually were more
like speeches. His brilliance was mani-
fest. He was a first year teacher, so he
couldn't have memorized his lectures,
but he spoke without notes for an hour.
He wasn't constrained by a podium, but
he was predictable. Every lecture he'd
start with his fingers jammed into his
jeans with the thumbs hooked over the
edge of the pocket, as if he were trying to
restrain himselffrom what he must have
known was coming--the inevitable rising
volume, quickening cadence, and karate
chopping of knowledge into our small
freshman brains."
Despite his strongly held views, Well-
stone was also known for welcoming
debate in his classes. Another student
recalled,"Whether students were liberal
or conservative didn't matter. He pushed
us to think about what we could do to
make change in the world."
As a scholar, Wellstone pursued an
unconventional path. He ignored conven-
tional "publish-or-perish" wisdom, which
says that an untenured professor without
a substantial body of published scholarly
work has little hope of receiving tenure.
During his two years at Carleton, he
wrote only one article for a scholarly jour-
nal. Instead of producing scholarship, he
concentrated on organizing. "I was deter-
mined not to be an outside observer but
to use my skills as a political scientist to
empower people and to step forward with
people in justice struggles," he said later.
By the end of his third year in Min-
nesota, Wellstone could point to an
impressive list of accomplishments as an
organizer. He helped raise awareness of
rural poverty in Rice County, led protests
against local government leaders, and
trained an impressive number of students
in the essentials of organizing. Above
all, he enabled a cadre of poor and dis-

enfranchised individuals to become their
own leaders. Yet for all his successes as
an organizer, Wellstone was putting his
career at risk, because Carleton hired
him to teach and to be a scholar, not to
In 1973, the administration admon-
ished Wellstone to forego his organiz-
ing activities and pursue more rigorous
academic research. They warned him
if he didn't make changes, his contract
would be terminated the following year.
But Wellstone refused to change. Over
the course of the next year, he continued
his organizing work. Instead of publish-
ing academic articles, he chronicled his
experience with OBRC in a book. Car-
leton was unimpressed, and made good
on its threat in January of 1974. In a
unanimous decision by the political sci-
ence department, dean, president, and
board of trustees, Wellstone's contract
was terminated. He was given a year to
find another job.
Led by a group of seniors, the Carleton
student body rallied to Wellstone's sup-
port. Within weeks of the announcement
that his contract would not be renewed,
a group of students formed the Commit-
tee to Reinstate Paul Wellstone, which
led protests on Wellstone's behalf, gath-
ered 790 signatures (out of a student
body of 1,600) demanding the decision
be reversed, and led a student boycott of
courses in the political science depart-
ment. After months of pressure, the dean
of the college, Bruce Morgan, agreed
to take "the procedurally extraordinary
step" of bringing two tenured members
of faculty at other universities to evalu-
ate Wellstone's work. The evaluators,
Frances Fox Piven and Bruce Bacharach
- both professors of poverty and race
studies - wrote overwhelmingly posi-
tive assessments.
Wellstone's future was secured when
Dean Morgan, who had originally sup-
ported the administration's decision,
changed his mind and threatened to
resign if Wellstone were not reinstated
and offered immediate tenure. The
board, nearly a year after refusing to
renew Wellstone's contract, reversed its
decision and awarded the 28-year-old
tenure. He had gone from being denied
reappointment for his perceived lack of
scholarly credentials to being the young-
est faculty member in Carleton's history
to receive tenure.
Book Reading
Where: Hutchins Hall, Room 150
When: Oct. 6, 7 p.m.
Presented by University of Michi-
gan Press.

money and a waste of space for actual
fans for me to be there when I really don't
care," said LSA senior Lauren Sogor, who
spends her Saturdays studying and work-
ing out in the gym, where the exercise
machines are readily available.
The near-emptiness of campus isn't the
only clear indication of a Football Satur-
day. Last year, Jacobson was constantly
awakened by a rumbling in his apartment
on State Street. His walls were shaking
because of the noise coming from the
house parties down the street and the
vibrations of thousands of feet hitting the
pavement on their way to the stadium.
"When everyone is going down to the
game, it's insane. Everybody matches, it's
weird," Ibrahim said.
The students who don't go to the
games still hear the results of the contest.
At a school where a nine-win season is
considered a bad year and a loss to Ohio
State is inexcusable, word gets around.
One of Jacobson's friends usually men-
tions the outcome of the game to him,
while Ibrahim usually hears the result
in passing conversations. The names
of quarterback Chad Henne and coach
Lloyd Carr ring a bell (although Ibrahim
answered "Who?" when I asked who
Chad Henne was), but to these students,
they're no more important than any other
person in Ann Arbor and certainly not
the near-celebrities that other students
perceive them as. The long tradition is
acknowledged, but not necessarily fully
"I don't think I understood how impor-
tant football was when I first came to (the
University), but I like the school for many
other reasons," Ibrahim said.
"I'd say I'm completely neutral to the
tradition, as long as the tradition isn't
waking me up in the morning," Jacobson
The City Prepares
The city of Ann Arbor is a little
more than 28 square miles in
size, with a population of about
114,000. It has plenty of local
shops, a huge art fair every
summer, 153 parks and a median income
of about $54,000. On Football Saturdays,
the city transforms from a college town to
a party host, accommodating more than
50,000 additional people, a conservative
estimate of the city's guests, according to
Mary Kerr, the president of the Ann Arbor
Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau, an
organization that helps organize the mas-
sive crowd with information, directions
and maps.
With all things considered, Kerr guess-
es that the city brings in roughly $1.5 mil-
lion per game. There are more than 4,000
hotel rooms in Washtenaw County and
on football weekends, most are occupied
(Kerr said that vacancies for Ohio State
weekend were already filling up fast).
Also, the local businesses have a boom
that one would expect when a city's popu-
lation goes up by nearly 50 percent. The
city benefits from the small stands set up
all around the stadium, getting a couple

- Alexander Jacobson
LSA junior
hundred dollars for even a small merchan-
dise stand. Restaurants are swamped,
store's beer supplies run out, and Michi-
gan merchandise flies off the shelves.
At Great Lakes Team Apparel on State
Street, owner Robert Duerksen said that
on Football Saturday, all of his employ-
ees work and his store does four times the
business than on a regular fall Saturday.
Right around the corner, at Moe's Sport
Shop, manager Mike Walton has his store
stocked with twice as much merchandise
than in the summer months, preparing for
at least a 50 percent increase in traffic and
generally, three or four times the amount
of normal business.
"It's a dramatic difference," Wal-
ton said.
Keeping some semblance of order
among the huge crowd is no easy feat.
Since Michigan Stadium falls on the Uni-
versity campus, the Department of Public
Safety - a fully certified and trained
police department - is in charge of orga-
nizing law enforcement officers around the
stadium. Far from being alone, city police,
the county sheriff and the fire department
all lend a hand - with the cost of all this
security, according to DPS spokesperson
Diane Brown, coming out of the Athletic
Department's pocket.
Brown describes the task of organiz-
ing everybody "a science," and in many
ways, it is. The job of DPS on game days
is to serve more as a watchdog than the
strong arm of the law. When it comes
to arresting perpetrators, Brown said
that it varies completely from game to
game. Factors such as the time of the
game, the weather and the opponent
all are considered. Ticket scalping is
also an obvious issue for both the Ath-

letic Department and the police. The
Athletic Department checks websites
and keeps a list of people who report
stolen tickets, while DPS stays on the
lookout for scalpers, although Brown
admits that "it's not the primary focus
for game days."
Inside the stadium, DPS has the
official authority, but an officer is
usually paired with a sheriff trooper
of a state trooper, creating the ability
to enforce both university ordinanc-
es and state laws. The men wearing
yellow "Event Staff" clothing who
stand at the entrances both inside and
outside of the stadium are actually
employees of the Athletic Depart-
ment and they handle the list of pro-
hibited items, which has evolved over
the years. DPS is stationed at the
gates as well, handling the criminal
element of whatever situation arises,
an evolution of the policy in 2000,
where officers roamed the stadium.
The alcohol policy changes as well.
Even though the majority of tickets hand-
ed out are for alcohol possession in the
stadium, parking lots on the athletic cam-
pus are granted exceptions for alcohol on
Football Saturdays.
"It's perfectly legal for of-age individu-
als to be standing there with an open can
of beer in their hand," Brown said.
Game Over
Police officers finish up their
rounds, Werth and his family
pack up the camper and head
home, Ibrahim finishes practice
and band members conclude
the post-game show. Another Football
Saturday has ended in Ann Arbor. Life is
returning to normal, but for one morning
and afternoon, a city was turned upside
down. Families came together, students
broke from their normal routines and
everybody left with a lasting impression
of just how different everything is on a
Football Saturday.

The 24-member drumline of the mar(
Hall 90 minutes before kickoff each

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