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November 02, 1995 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Uee £icitgn ?aaDg

Roses Are Read
613/ al&/tkwn -
/1atyoz do
4 he tall, skinny woman ran into
the Daily offices last week,
breathing heavily, looking
ehind her in fear. Said she had a
bry for me. Said it was about
tidents' rights.
"I was tried last year under the
ode," she whispered nervously.
"Oh, you mean you had a hearing
garding a potential violation of the
t~atement of Student Rights and
:sponsibilities," I said, correcting her.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she said in
isgust. "Let me tell you something
bout my trial. It was hell of a
tatement on student rights and
"What do you mean?" I asked,
erplexed. "Wasn't it a fair trial - I
an hearing? Wasn't it a fair
"Are you kidding me? I walked in
nd the first thing they did was strap
e to a chair."
"That's not in the Statement."
"Yeah, well neither is this: They
ave me electric shock treatment.
hen they whipped me with a belt."
"With a belt?"
"With the buckle. Then they told
e they would kill me if I ever told
I was skeptical.
"I don't believe it," I told her.
You're lying."
"You think I'm lying?" she asked.
Prove it."
And I couldn't.
Of all the problems with the
tatement - and there are plenty from
hich to choose - the largest is a lack
f public knowledge about the
roceedings. Inexplicably, the proposed
ode of Student Conduct does nothing
o alleviate that problem.
Under the proposed code, a hearing
annot be open to the public unless
oth a defendant and a plaintiff- or
hatever they are called - both ask
or it to be open.
This brings up an incredible
umber of problems. Let's say you
re about to have a hearing. One
ogical step would be to check the
ecords of previous cases to see what
ind of precedents have been set.
You can't. No written or electronic
ecordings of previous code cases are
Suppose you wanted at least to get
n idea of how the proceedings have
dtually worked in the past.
You can't.
This lack of openness has been
efended by the administration on the
rounds that code records are
cademic records and thus must be
ept private under the Federal
ducational Rights and Privacy Act.
uestion: If this is a code of non-
cademic conduct, how can these be
cademic records?
But that's not even the point. If you
re accused of a violation under the
ode, and you want your records to be
ublic, you still can't have them made
. u T
I~gguess: Those who run the

>rociedings are not confident enough
Ivththe process to allow it to be open.
suppose, after your case, you want
:o4peal on the grounds that it was
andled incorrectly, that procedures
'ere violated. You want to show that
heipeople running the hearing made
You can't.
You have no recording of the
vents. You have little or no chancej
t a successful appeal on procedural
The list of the faults of the media in
his country is longer than a MichiganI
inter. But the fact remains that the
nedia are a necessary evil, and as they
seem more evil, they are more neces-
'ary. People cannot judge the Code of
student Conduct, or the Statement, or
my other policy, unless they see it in
iction. And they have been denied the
:hance to see it in action, a chance they
would have with media coverage.


Olympic champ evolves from athlete ...
By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Daily Theater Editor

to author

it's been a crazy year," admitted Greg
Louganis. "I'm used to a quieter life."
The soft-spoken Olympic diving cham-
pion has been under public scrutiny since
February, in a media blitz which all began
with the famed "20/20" interview. He's done
the heart-to-heart with Barbara Walters, re-
leased his autobiography "Breaking the Sur-
face" (Random House, $23) and embarked on
a subsequent book tour and speaking engage-
ments. He's even acted a six-week stint in a
one-man show off-Broadway. Somewhere in
there Louganis managed to serve as the Grand
Marshall for New York City's Gay Pride Pa-
And this past year also saw Louganis come
out - both as a gay man and as a person with
AIDS. That admission earned him "hero" sta-
tus in some circles; in many others, he is
simply "that diver with AIDS." In fact, it has
become his almost bittersweet claim-to-fame,
thanks to countless newspaper and magazine
editorials analyzing his decision to conceal his
HIV-positive status after cutting open his head
in the 1988 Summer Olympic Preliminaries.
But there's much more to Louganis beneath
the "surface," as he proved in the "20/20"
piece and in his no-holds-barred autobiogra-
phy. No doubt he will prove the same when he
speaks tonight at the Power Center.
Breaking the surface
with words
Many people have asked me why I've cho-
sen to tell mv story now. Some wonder why I
didn't write it years ago. Others have asked
me why Ididn 't wait until I'm older. Ididn't do
it years ago because I wasn't ready to risk
telling the truth. I'm doing it now because I
want to tell my story in my own words while I
still have the chance. I'm finally ready to
share my story. I hope you 're ready to hear it.
- Greg Louganis, "Breaking the Surface"
"Breaking the Surface," which Louganis
co-authored with Eric Marcus, is a poignant,
brutally honest story of the man on and off the
diving board. Louganis tells of his highs (such
as winning four Olympic gold medals) and his
lows (like being stuck in an abusive relation-
ship), all with a startling amount of candor and
depth. He describes what goes through his
mind preparing for a dive, his foray into drugs
and alcohol, being raped at knifepoint by his
live-in "manager," and his experience in the
off-Broadway play "Jeffrey," to name a few.
Retelling the most impressionistic events of
his life was a struggle for the diver; he claims
writing the book was in many ways tougher
than winning those four golds. "If you have a
bad experience, the tendency is to push it
down like it doesn't exist or to try to forget
about it," Louganis said in a phone interview
from his Malibu home. "But a lot of that I had
to relive in doing the interviews (with Marcus),
so that was difficult."
To compound the difficulty factor, the idea
ofpublishing a tell-all frightened many people
close to Louganis. One friend was concerned
for his safety; his mother feared he'd never
work again. Louganis had fears ofhis own, but
they were outweighed by his need to move on
in life.
"When you put everything out there like
that, you're putting it out for (judgment).
There was that fear of being judged," he said.
"I knew that this was the next step for me for
my growth and development ... I could have
continued to hide in my house, but I knew that
this was the.next step: To let go of secrets,
because secrets can be very imprisoning."
Louganis let go of many secrets in his book,
devoting an entire chapterto "The Ninth Dive"
and the secret beneath the surface. "Since my
diagnosis," he writes, "I'd focused entirely on
my training for the Olympics and was in
almost complete denial about my HIV status.
Now, having hit my head, there was no deny-
ing the terrifying truth."
He went on, of course, to win two gold
medals but never told anyone what was run-
ning through his head in those moments of


panic - not even the doctor who was stitch-
ing his head without gloves.
"Hindsight is 20-20," he said, inadvert-
ently punning the Walters interview. "Look-
ing back, I would have done things differ-
ently: I would have told the doctor; the doctor
should have known, and that was my respon-
"But you have to consider the time - this
was 1988. I knew that I would not be wel-
comed into the country of Seoul, Korea ...
because I was looking into getting Ryan White
to Seoul for the Olympics, and they would not
grant him a visa because of his HIV status.
People with AIDS or HIV were not treated
with compassion." The president ofthe Seoul
Olympic Committee would later call it "re-
grettable" that Louganis had participated in
those Olympic games.
Today Louganis classifies the response he
receives regarding the book as "incredibly
positive" and "very supportive." He specu-
lated, "I think people responded to the hon-
In the Walters interview, Louganis took
honesty one step further with a revelation he
had left out of the book: The fact that he had
full-blown AIDS. The Center for Disease
Control (CDC) makes the distinction between
HIV and AIDS by the T-cell count; when T-
cells fall below 200, a person has AIDS.
"That was information that I had learned
only a few months earlier. I'd been under 200
for a while, but I never knew that was the
(CDC) definition,"'he recalled. "It was in the
book initially but I had it pulled because I
wasn't yet comfortable with saying that.
"So when Barbara asked me that question,
I didn't know what was going to be coming
out of my mouth. But I said what I said - it
was the information that I had, that I knew.
And when the cameras stopped rolling I said
to her, 'You know Barbara, I'm not sure that
I'm comfortable with my response.'
"(But) then I said, well I think it's time for
me to start getting used to it, to dealing with
it - rather than running away from it." He

finishes with a subtle but definite note of
pride in his voice, glossed over with his
characteristic humility. He then goes on to
say that he's asymptomatic, and has been
feeling pretty good.
After the gold
Since his retirement from diving, Louganis
has concentrated most of his energy on his
acting career. In 1992 he did a four-month
stint in Paul Rudnick's play "Jeffrey," in
which he played a gay "Cats" chorus boy
who dies of AIDS. Last August he returned
to off-Broadway for six weeks in the one-
man show "The Only Worse Thing You
Could Have Told Me ...," a show examining
gay life from various corners of the country.
Written, created and originally performed
by Dan Butler (Bulldog on TV's "Frasier"),
"The Only Worse Thing ..." required
Louganis to carry an hour-and-20-minute
show entirely on his own, during which time
he played 14 different characters. Just a few
of his incarnations: "A foul-mouthed New
Yorker, straight (he laughs knowingly), this
opera queen character, a 10-year-old boy, a
Southern boy from (affecting the appropri-
ate drawl) Chattanooga - some rather dark
sides of thinking about gay life."
"Had you made the suggestion last year
that I might be doing a one-man show I
would have said (in his best New York
accent) 'You're nuts!,"' he said. "It was
grueling, it was exhilarating, it was just so
much. But I'm glad I took the challenge to do
it ... It was a good break to exercise myself
Negotiations are underway to do the show
elsewhere, and "Breaking the Surface" will
soon make the transition from book to movie.
The USA network owns the rights; at this
point no script has been written. And though
he'll do his own diving, Louganis will not do
any acting in the film. "I've always said I
want Keanu Reeves to play me," he said


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