Monday, April 12, 2004Michigamua has found itself once again in the news, this time because members can have membership listed on their official transcripts:
"Michigamua, the secret society of University of Michigan students kicked out of the Michigan Union four years ago after a student protest, is once again the focus of student complaints.
This time, student activists want U-M to cut its last tie to the group: Membership in Michigamua can be listed on a student's transcript as an honor.
Eliminating that practice was on a list of issues that Student Voices in Action recently presented to U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and other administrators.
Michigamua, an honorary society formed in 1902, was founded on Native American themes, with members sometimes painting themselves red and wearing loin cloths and headdresses in their rituals. The organization, which includes former President Gerald Ford among its alums, kept a meeting room in the tower of the Michigan Union until 2000, when a group of students occupied the room and demanded the organization's ouster because, they said, its actions dishonor Native Americans. U-M administrators eventually moved Michigamua and a couple of other organizations out of the Union. Michigamua now meets off campus.
Members of Student Voices discovered that Michigamua is still among more than 220 organizations and honors that U-M students can ask to have noted on their official transcript. U-M officials say they were unaware that Michigamua was on the list and they are reviewing the practice. ...
Sean Carmody, a member of Michigamua who has spoken on campus on the group's behalf in the past, said the organization's members don't list the organization on their transcripts, although they are aware they could.
"We're a humble organization," he said. "We don't use our organization to call attention to ourselves."
Carmody declined to say where the group meets or describe what it does. Its Web site says it is committed to diversity and it has dropped connections to Native American culture from its rituals. It calls itself a "quiet leadership society." ...
Activists say the group hasn't reinvented itself enough, and it is unapologetic for the past.
"Just because you've changed something you used to do doesn't really make anything right," said Brittany Marino, incoming chairwoman of the Native American Student Association. "The name of the group hasn't changed. ... It does offend a lot of people."
The Michigamua Web site says the name was made up by founding members.
The list of transcript honors is being reviewed by U-M Provost Paul Courant, who will come up with a new policy to determine which should continue to be listed on transcripts, and which should not. Among the questions, he said, is why there are only 220 on the list, but more than 800 student groups at the university.
Most of the honors are awards or prizes, like the Hopwood Major for literary achievement.
Others denote membership in a honors club, like Golden Key, which calls itself an international academic honor society. Some recognize service to fraternities and the university, like the Order of Omega.
The university likely will make some changes to the list of honors. "Michigamua and many other groups are there as artifacts" of a old practice, said U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson.
"What the university is now asking is whether these groups that appear on the transcripts have a mission that's consistent with an academic honorific award," she said.
Reporter Dave Gershman can be reached at (734) 994-6818 or dgershman at annarbornews.com. "
> AANews: "U-M group again target of complaints"
Posted by Rob at 3:25 PM