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Wcc Starts Black Studies Program

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With colleges and universities opening again for the fall semester, the demands of the students for more freedoms, lower tuition and fees, and bett e r college curricula are expected to be heard. And there also will continue to be one loud voice that is calling out for equal rights, better opportunities and courses designed especially with them in mind. The black man is being heard on the college campus. Across the nation black studies courses are being developed and designed by the black man. A new attempt in education is the study of black history, culture and liter ature, and though many schools are in the experimental stages in developing such courses, the attempts themselves are a step toward meeting the demands and satisfying needs the black man has long been expressing. Washtenaw Community College has heard the demands of the black students who have feit the need and desire for a black studies program, and this f all as the doors open, black and white students are enrolling in black literature, history or psychology. The Board of Trustees of WCC has expressed interest in such a course since the beginíiing of the school three years ago. Along with this interest he Black Student Union has pushed for such a program to be organized at WCC, and the flay has come when students pan enroll in black studies courses, the beginning of what the community college hopes will someday become an extenpive course within the school. John T i g n e r was f i r s t. Eppoiñted assistant coördinator bf the black studies program, and later Alvin Roberts was appointed by the Board of [Trustees as coördinator. Both have a background in the culture and way of life of the [black man, a basic credential which was considered in selecting persons for the job. Tigner, a 27-year-old honors gradúate of WCC, worked in a factory for four years before he enrolled full time at WCC. Now after a general education at WCC, he sits in an administrative position and has spent the summer with interested persons, organizing a course for WCC that will hopefully meet the needs of the large number of black students who attend the school. For Tigner the purpose of starting a black studies program at WCC was to edúcate, libérate, and "help school help us." The idea for the course c a m e about b e c a u s e some black students feit the student at the community college was not involved, was passing his classes, but just getting grades and not really having any sense of awareness or dedication to the school. There was a time, said Tigner, when many WCC students identified themselves as students from Eastern Michigan University or the Uniyersity of Michigan, and he hopes this will change, and a new pride will develop. "Some members of the faculty gave us direction, said Tigner. He listed a group of men- Herbert Martin, psychology; Alvin Roberts, sociology; David B y r d , architectual drafting; and others. "These cats were doing something," said Tigner. A black studies review committee was set up and discussed curriculum, faculty and other aspects of a new program in the school. The review committee came up with certain ideas for hiring a coördinator, "We didn't want to limit ourselves to someone who just went through the educational process, but someone who could relate to people," said Tigner. With time the ideas grew, the program began to take shape, and the coördinator and assistant were selected. In selecting reading material for the courses members of the munity, as well as students, have been reading over the summer to find the right material for the courses as they have been designed at WCC. This fall the black studies courses are electives. They have been placed in other departments in the school so it is hoped credits for them will be transferable to other schools, though this has not yet been confirmed, said Tigner. "The black studies courses will not be academie buil sessions," said Tigner. And, he added, they will not be a place for black students to just come and rap. The courses are also planned so community persons can audit them, said Tigner, and if they are interested, join in. The black studies program will work closely with the Black Students Union on the campus. Tigner also added the BSU at the college has formed a coalition with the Black zen's Association ancfifiëiiTacK Student Union at Willow Run Schools. These groups will be working together in the black studies program, "plus anyone else who is willing to work with oppressed people for a righteous cause," said Tigner. When asked how a young man with a degree from the community college feit he was qualified to aid in coordinating such a program as black studies at WCC Tigner said, "I'm involved with people. I'm open to ideas from anybody. I think I can speak for the common man, because I am the common man," he said. Tigner is enrolled at Eastern Michigan University in psychology and sociology this fall. He intends to stay in school and get his doctórate. "I want the credentials," said Tigner. "Then when someone asks who I am I can say Dr. Tigner, but a janitor by trade," he added. Tigner described his work with the black students in the high schools as well as the college. "I stay down on the corner at night with them, and shoot the buil," he said. But then there is the time when hel must meet with faculty and admiinistrators, and it's a different role for him to play, he said. The black studies program is not the savior of the black people, but just a small part," said Tigner. "We can edúcate' and inform, but we can't make a man's decisions for him," he said. White students can enroll in the classes at WCC, but they'll be "taught the black way," said Tigner. The black students are going in depth and "dealing with the whys that are often so hard to answer," he said. From this study Tigner hopes the black students involved can find pride, dignity, and knowledee about one's self.