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WCC Unit Oks 9 Black Ideas

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The Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees last night approved nine of 12 black student demands at a stormy meeting which for the first time witnessed a confrontation between angry blacks, whites with southern backgrounds and area taxpayers protesting the demands. The board agreed to nine of President David Ponitz's recommendations regarding the demands, including the establishment of an "autonomous" Black Studies Program with its own budget and faculty, and support for the WCC nursery school program. Also favorably received were ' (Iemands for expanded black courses, accreditation of black courses, a recruitment program ; to find more black students and instructors and "to enroll all ] blacks who want to go to j WCC," a permanent Black Student Union office on the new; campus, the development of a Black Culture Center, a black'1 financial review committee toi review all black applicants ' refused financial aid, and "no prosecution of students for any action taken regarding these' demands." The board agreed to meetj with the black students and black faculty, who are supporting the students' demands, to discuss differences regarding the other three demands, that the membership of the Black Studies Review Committee be exclusively black (Ponitz recommended the committee continue to be bi-racial); that a course in Black Studies be a I requirement for all black students ( Ponitz recommended that courses should not be required); and that uniformed pólice not be stationed in the student bookstore or in any other campus building. Rejected outright was a demand that white instructors not be allowed to hold positions in the Black Studies Program. Highlights of the meeting, interrupted repeatedly by members of the audience, jeers, laughter and shouts of "right on," included: -A disclosure by Pomtz that "there has been an increase of vandalism at WCC during the past two months," and a declaration that t'he "administration will take appropriate measures to deal with unauthorized activities which infringe upon the rights of others or destroy public property." -A statement by both Ponitz and Trustee Robert G. Forman that, after the last board meeting was interrupted by black students, they received many phone calis and letters of complaint from members of the white community. Ponitz later said he had been receiving a "strong response'' and an assortment of -"hate mail." The sense .of the letters, he said, was that: "If the blacks don't like the college or if you can't control them, throw them out or sbut the college down'." - An appeal by Forman, executive director o f t h e University of Michigan Alumni Association, that the trustees and - community accept the demands of the blacks. Forman, a white, said that he was a history major in college and was trained to teach American history, but knew nothing about black history except what he later had learned through ' the WCC Black Studies Program. Forman denied that the college is "developing classes in black hatred." He added: "If I vvere black, I would be demanding the heil out of this organization, 'because that appears to be the only way things can get done." -A declaration by Black Studies Coördinator Alvin E. Roberts that "we're not telling blacks to hate white people.' We're telling blacks to love themselves, because for so long we've been taught to hate our selves." Added Roberts: "We spend millions to go to the moon, whe-fl nobody is up there and nobody questions the expenditures. But we don't even know how to get along with one another down here, and peopl scream if we ask for a few pen nies to teach people something about themselves." - A review by Ponitz of what he described as the "great efforts" of the college on behalf of blacks during the past four years. Ponitz pointed out that, of the 150 full-time teaching and administrative faculty, 26 or 17.4 per cent are black. He added: "We know of no fouryear or community college in the state that approaches this percentage." He also pointed out that, while the county has a black population of some 7.5 per cent, the black enrollment at WCC is about 13.1 per cent. "This did not happen. It was caused to happen," he said. (Blacks at U-M are asking for a 10 per cent enrollment.) Po-nitz also pointed out that 66 per cent of the college's financial aid was given to black students, as compared with 34 per cent given to white students. He also emphasized that "a bonafide resident of the1 county need only meet one of two requirements for enroll; ment - be 18 years of age or a high school gradúate." Ponitz strongly supported the Black Studies Program. "Individuals who are of descent other tha-ü African," he said, "come from intact cultures. The Germans, the English, the Irish, the Polish , . . have d e f i n e d organizations and a c t i v i t i e s which give the individual some sense of their cultural background. But the American black, w i t h his immediate heritage of slavery, has had his background of culture c,ompletely destroyed and his memory of it erased . . . For the black, it is essential to teach the heritage of black culture, to develop pride in the accomplishments of blacks, to find an understanding of the promise and problems of blackness." After several interruptions and heated exchanges, Actmg C h a i r m a n Ralph Wenrich threatened to adjqurn the meeting and to go into a closed executive session. Robert Stillwell, a black WCC student, declared that blacks were getting "a second-class educatio-n" and that "if you don't have any say in your education, then this is a dictatorship." "What do you people want?" a white man in the audience, who described himself as a southerner asked. The man provoked shouts of indignation from the blacks when he declared that in the South "they had black studies in the 'colored' schools . . ." A white woman who also said she was a southerner elicited jeers and laughs , when she declared that "we were never taught hatred in our schools." "I don't hate you, neither, lady," Stillwell assured the woman. "Höw does black law differ f r o m white law?" another white woman asked. ' ' A r e n ' t you doing w h a t you're accusing white people of doing - excluding people?" a white man asked. Another white woman wondered "How can we finalice all this? Where are the funds coming from?" WCC officials later pointed out that most of the negative response to the black student demands appears to be emanating from persons primarily of southern background. The Ypsilanti área, they said, has large numbers of persons who came here from Kentucky and Tennessee. Earlier, the black faculty had sent a letter to the trustees voicing support of the Black Student Union demands_._____