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May 28, 1982 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1982-05-28

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Page 6 Friday, May 28, 1982 The Michigan Daily


The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCII, No. 18-S
Ninety-two Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Empty rules
N LIEU OF withdrawing the University's
investments from U.S. corporations doing
business in apartheid South Africa, the Regents
set a policy four years ago requiring those
companies to prove themselves as being a
positive force for change in that nation.
Now it turns out that the Regents' move was a
hollow gesture, as the University refuses to
require these companies to abide by its
guidelines. The Regents 1978 resolution on
South Africa calls for the University to divest
from those companies that do not take satisfac-
tory measures to improve the quality of life for
their South African employees.
A Daily story revealed yesterday that several
companies in which the University invests are
not abiding by such principles, yet University
officials told the Regents that the companies in
question followed the Regents guidelines or had
not responded to University inquiries.
Clearly the Regents should have sold off the
University's investments in companies which
do business in South Africa years ago. Such
companies provide implicit support of the South
African government's racist apartheid policies
and investments in them are unworthy of an in-
stitution of higher learning.
But if the University insists on maintaining
such investments, then it should at least abide
by its own guidelines that demand fair em-
ployment practices for blacks in South Africa.
The Regents have argued all along that
American companies in South Africa provide a
moderating influence in the nation by treating
and paying black workers better than a native
company would.
The tragedy of the Daily disclosure is that
several American companies are not treating
blacks fairly as they would be required to do in
the United States. Meanwhile, the University's
investment office, Regents, and faculty finance
committee all blindly accept illegitimate ex-
cuses from the companies for their failures.
The University has been reluctant
to push these issues with the non-complying
companies. While other universities have whole
committees working on investment issues, The
University of Michigan has only one official and
his assistant to monitor companies' actions.
The Regents must not wait another 18 months
for the investment office to issue another in-
vestment update. They must demand a careful
accounting of each company in which the
University invests, and withdraw from those
that won't comply with University guidelines.
Empty rules do nothing for black workers
toiling for American firms who care so little for
their welfare.

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Fear swamps reality
in pan ic *o ver crim e


By Frank Browning
blush of sunset had faded from
the hills above San Francisco
Bay, and we were sitting down to
one of those near-ritual Berkeley
dinners wherein graying activists
reflect upon past exploits and
current prospects.
The mood was of jolly
reminiscence until, somehow, the
subject changed to crime. Hardly'
a dinner goes by these days
without the dark shadow of crime
crossing the conversation:
juveniles run wild, murder is
commonplace, holdups routine.
PLAYING WITH provocation,
someone suggested that perhaps
it was not so much that crime was
growing worse but that we were
growing more sensitive to the
violence that has always been
with us. Worse, he suggested the
rather radical notion that for
white, middle-class profes-
sionals, violent crime is not
much more a problem now than it
has ever been.
The assertion was a solid con-
versation stopper.
"Look," said one of the former
radicals. "I know the cops can
manipulate the statistics to get a
bigger budget. But if crime's not
getting wrose, how come so many
of my friends are getting mug-
ged these days?"
"HEY, .I HAD my house com-
pletely cleaned out last year,"
said another. "You saw what was
left - the couch, the bed and the
sideboard, and that's just
because those things were too
heavy to carry."
Everywhere it seems the same.
The preoccupation with violent
crime seems unprecedented. Last
year, New West, the hip Califor-

nia magazine, ran a bold headline
on its cover asking, "IS ANYONE
SAFE ANYMORE?" Inside were
three articles, each stamped
"California: a State of Fear,"
relentlessly recounting the
horrors that surround us.
The trouble is, violent crime is
not appreciably worse than it was
10 years ago. Robbery and
assault - the most common
violent crimes - have undergone
no significant increase at any
time in the last decade, according
to data collected by the U.S.
Justice Department's annual
victimization Survey.
BETWEEN 1973 and 1979, the
years for which data are most
complete, robbery and
aggravated assault rose from 5.4
per 1,000 people to 5.5. During the
same period the number of
American households "touched"
by crime hovered at about 30 per-
cent, only to drop a few percen-
tage points in 1980.
Murder, which is less than 1
percent of all violent crimes
committed, has risen in recent
years, but- its victims are over-
whelmingly black, Hispanic and
poor - as opposed to the middle-
class professionals who have
registered the greatest fear. And,
as crime analysts have long poin-
ted out, most murders involve
family, friends and acquaintan-
ces - those whom we least fear.
All of which suggests that most
middle-class fear of crime is
based upon illusion rather than
reality. Or, as Eugene Doleschal
of the National Council on Crime
and Delinquency (NCCD) points
out, " 'Crime waves' are created
by the human imagination."
BUT IF WE have imagined the
current crime wave, the question
remains: What has stimulated

this fearful imagination?
"Fear of crime has always
been a hot topic," says James
Austin, senior research analyst
at NCCD. "Yet based on both my
personal experience and the
research data, the amount of
violence going on in our cities
seems to be pretty constant.
"What has changed is that the
baby boom generation is entering
middle age. Middle-aged people
are generally more sensitive to
violence and have more to
protect. Maybe more important,
as we grow up we accumulate
more experience with crime."
ference between growing up in
almost totally crime-free suburbs
during the 1940s and '50s and
living as an adult in downtown
Chicago and San Francisco.
"Before, the expanding middle
class had been able to protect it-
self from the dangers of the city
by moving out. But times are
rougher now, and a lot of us have
to confront violent communities
that before we were able to avoid
or escape."
The fact that there is no escape,
that almost everyone from the
baby boom generation has known
someone who has been raped or
mugged or murdered - and the
fact that many of us grew up in a
world where such violence was
the preserve of television - all of
this has left many with a deep
sense of betrayal. That, maybe,
is why crime seems to be topic
one at even the nm-ost liberal
gathering these days.
Browning, co-author f
'The American Way of Crime
wrote this article for the
Pacific News Service.


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