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Another View Of The Big 'u'

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Just what is the University of Michigan? The answer depends on who you are. For the entering students it's the highest track of an educational system that's been rewarding a few and sidetracking the rest of the young people of the state. For most of the professors it's a place to do research, make their reputation, train future elites, and earn from two to four thousand a month. For the residents of Washtenaw County the University is a source of lousy pay, one big reason for ripoff prices, and an island of privilege in a sea of poverty, Northern style. For the 1% of the región who owns 70% of the stocks, bonds, and developable land, the University is a vital cog in the capitalist economy which serves them so well. And for the many progressive and political people of this community the University is just the local versión of the American monster. The University is a big, profitable corporation which rakes in millions of taxpayer dollars and then turns around and admits mostly the children of the richest fifth of the families in the state. It contracts on a profitable basis to do research for the military, for big industry, and for the tax-dodging "private" foundations. And it is the biggest landowner in the county. The University is basically committed to turning out the future managers, technicians, and agents who keep America spinning along. And il' a few misfits. unfortunates, and rebels slip by the admissions office, that's a smal! price to pay for carrying on with "the business of America", which. as Cal Coolidge put it. "is business." The University saves as much money as it can mi undergraduate education by having big lectures and fewer supportive services. They spend the suvings on gradúate and professional education. And they put as much as possible into buildings and programs which can serye the auto industry, the Department of Defense. foundations, and the federal agencies. Check out North Campus. 1SR. and the medical-dental ai ca. Those pretty new buildings are the payoffs to the University for developing infrared photography so helpful in Vietnam, for developing survey and social control techniques so helpful to management, and for training doctors who demand more and more fancy equipment while ignoring the fací that the poor are getting terrible medical service even in this county. The poor of this county might as well be living in a colony for all the power they have in determining what kind of housing, roads, schools, and hospitals they get. And the students might as well be living in a colony for all the power they have to make their education alive and relevant. Consider the student who wants to build and live a life of service to the people. This student is offered only one choice by the University: You can join the ivory tower crowd and isolate yourself from the people or you can enter the world as a member of the elite - as a boss, a manipulator of the consumer, a professional trained to serve the rich, etc. Students who don't dig either choice can begin their own political self-education. They can join in the political struggles against University poiicy already launched by community members, students, and faculty. Or they can hang around, zone out, and get the degree. So, each year the University has more and more students who are turned off, who are going through the motions, and a lot of them just drop out. But every once in a while the students get together. And then the shit hits the fan. The University of Michigan is still Republican territory. Soapy Williams and the Democrats made MSU their thing, and the old guard still runs the U of M. So imagine their surprise when students joined a black - led strike which closed down the University over a demand for 10% black admission by this year. That wasn't in the game plan. The Regénts had it figured out that community colleges, junior colleges, and every Wayne State were just the right track for blacks, Chícanos, the poor. But not Ann Arbor. What would become of "Excellence" if the masses were allowed in? The BAM strike of 1970 overwhelmed the resistance of the Regents, their administrators, and most of the faculty. They were forced to come up with a guarantee of 10% black enrollment. White racists all over the state were furious, and their spokesmen in Lansing threatened to chop the University's funds. But the Administration said, Relax, we'll take care of things. Which they did. That is. they didn't make it to 10%. They didn't come up with decent financial aid for all the students who can't afford their high-priced spread. They didn't do what needed to be done about the racist, irrelevant academie program. And they did what they could to set whites against blacks, blacks against Chícanos, and to keep the new black students far away from the black community in this county. Divide and conquer. Fine sounding programs and horrible sounding budgets. So here comes 1973-74. The new game plan calis for students to be allowed to have their "life style" on the condition that the faculty, the administraron, and the corporations be allowed their life style. It's a game plan which leads directly to a track system even within the elite University. It's a game plan which is still capable of beJiign neglect of the poor, weaponpracticing wars, inflation, and a pretty smooth ride for the upper 1%. Ann Arbor and the University are just one small part of the game plan. And the struggle goes on. -The Inside-Outside Collective (The SUN would like this article to be the first in a series on the University of Michigan. We would like people to submit articles or letters on any aspect of the university which they feel would be of interest to the community. If you have some information you want to pass on, this is the place for it. To submit articles mail them or come on over to the Ann Arbor SUN, 208 S. First St., or cali 761-7148.)