Monday, June 27th, 2005
The University of Michigan recently unveiled a master plan for the University’s rapidly growing medical campus, which is explained in an article in today’s University Record. I am glad to see the university inching towards the realization that the medical campus that currently exists is a positively hostile place for pedestrians esthetically, visually, and literally. Walking around the medical campus today is a daunting experience for the pedestrian: there is no grid or explanations about how to find one’s way, and the buildings are designed with their internal functions in mind. In fact, it is almost entirely designed around the auto. What is needed is an element of urbanity in the medical campus that is currently lacking.
Too often the sort of campus planning conducted by the university is the sort that looks down from above and maps out parking and pedestrian flows, and where buildings can be build or expand in harmony with the existing structures. (This graphic is a detail from a larger image from the new Master Plan) Although this sort of planning is very important, it overlooks how important the experience of the campus is from the pedestrian level. Up to this point the U-M hospital complex has taken the form of what I think of as “postmodern urbanism” - that is, extremely high levels of density that nonetheless are unpleasant for pedestrians and confusing for visitors because they are designed for access from autos and designed to contain pedestrians inside the structure exclusively. The buildings do not interface with the street, frequently containing entrances only from parking structures or from special roundabouts designed for autos. All commercial activity is sequestered inside food courts difficult or impossible to access from the outside, despite the thousands of students living in hill dormitories.
Consciously constructing an environment of pedestrian urbanism would not only create a pleasant environment for the employees and patients of the hospital, but also cater to the needs of the tens of thousands of students who live in hill dorms and would patronize any potential common space or retail. (I find it ironic that Michigan’s hospital has a great cardiac unit, but it’s easier to drive around the medical campus than walk and the food court contains a Wendy’s.) How might the university provide for growth but also encourage such an environment? Build the large laboratories that are needed, but reserve some ground floor space next to the sidewalk for permeable functions - either a lobby adjacent the street, or small shops open to the street. At least one convenience store was destroyed to make way for parking, and I don’t imagine it would be too hard to find a vendor interested in occupying a small space, say, across the street from the massive Mary Markley dorm. In the long term, the rent from university-owned commercial space could bring the university revenue.
I am encouraged by the glimmer of awareness to these needs that can be found in the master plan - they’ve identified “Integration of physical facilities with the natural environment and community” as an important goal, and even have a slide listing “improved pedestrian amenities” (where this image was found) as part of a Powerpoint presentation about the plan. Whether or not they have the understanding of how to make this a reality - beyond sterile walking paths that go nowhere and nobody can find - remains to be seen - notice the streetscaping in the image is great, but the building is just a blank wall. The ultimate irony is that the university’s planning and architecture schools has some of the nation’s pre-eminent new urbanist planners and thinkers, who gave many suggestions similar to these when tasked by interim president B. Joseph White for creating a plan for North Campus. The university is slowly realizing - like most cities have - that chewing up their urban fabric to create unpleasant and banal suburban spaces in fact ruins what makes Ann Arbor so attractive to students, professors, and residents alike.
> See my post on the University’s destruction of the Planada building to make way for medical campus parking, or my post on the Planada in Preservation Magazine.” Yes, they’re building a parking garage on that spot.
> See my post on broader University planning issues, in response to an op-ed in the Ann Arbor News
> See my first rant about the need for street-level commercial space on Medical Campus
Looking back, I am beginning to sound like a broken record on this stuff. I wrote this in November 2003:
Maybe I’m slowly becoming the cranky old man I was once rumored to be …
The University must recognize their role in destroying street life. Parking garages, massive office and laboratory buildings all enforce a uniformity of use on the surrounding streets: meaning they will only be used at certain times of the day, and there will never be businesses, no matter how many pedestrians pass buy hungry for a cup of coffee or a bagel. There is no rational or economic reason why all new University buildings must be single-use, only a cultural one.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005
Here’s a few I pulled:
Mary Sue Coleman: $484,500
Marvin Krislov: $247,491
E. Royster Harper: $221,708
Ralph Williams: $98,150
H.D. Cameron: $85,050
Diane Brown: $61,100
Matt Lassiter: $57,140
Add your own in the comments.
Monday, June 20th, 2005
According to an email I was forwarded, the featured speaker at a fundraiser in for MARAL Pro-Choice Michigan in Ann Arbor Thursday is non other than Miranda Massie.
Miranda was the lead attorney for one group of student intervenors (the law students - not the undergrad intervenors) in the Grutter v. Bollinger affirmative action case. She’s also the sister of Luke Massie, an organizer for the organization Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAM-N). She’s also one of the core leaders of a Trotskyite sect called the Revolutionary Workers League which goes by the name BAM-N in public. RWL was founded by George Washington, an activist attorney who built up a practice with a small group (Scheff & Washington) in combination with his efforts to build a revolutionary Trotskyite organization.
This one is tough: Massie is no doubt an accomplished attorney and the law firm has certainly litigated a number of worthy cases. In general I have heard only good things about MARAL, and I trust they simply don’t know much about BAM-N, but I question their wisdom of inviting Massie to speak. Despite the slickness of their “Speakers’ Bureau” webpage, there’s a lot about BAM-N they wouldn’t like you to know. BAM-N’s recruitment tactics verge on cult-like (One former member was brought to Detroit to participate in hours-long Marxist study sessions), and their organizing tactics are always divisive, sometimes violent, and frequently downright nasty. In his role as organizer for the group, Luke Massie has physically intimidated friends of mine, engaged in yelling matches, and called one of my best friends (an ACLU member and committed progressive) a “white devil.” Nathan Newman, a well-known journalist and blogger and columnist for the Populist Progressive, has called BAM-N a “threat … to the affirmative action and civil rights movement” and said his research, “In twenty years of political organizing, I have never seen such violent and thuggish behavior, a step beyond the worst sectarian acts I had ever imagined.” The Michigan Daily has harshly criticized the organization in an editorial.
So, I guess I wouldn’t invite a member of the group to come to speak at my fundraiser. But that’s just me. Here’s the bio they circulated on their email:
About Miranda Massie
Miranda Massie is a civil rights attorney with Scheff & Washington in Detroit, and has been actively involved in organizing for women’s rights and civil rights throughout her education and career. Massie is currently representing a sixteen-year-old male from Macomb County charged
with a major felony for trying to assist his girlfriend in terminating her pregnancy. He is being tried for intentional conduct against a pregnant individual resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth, a 15-year felony. Massie argues that it was not assault because the girlfriend consented to the means of the termination, and that the young girl was simply exercising her right to an abortion.
Massie received a B.A magna cum laude from Cornell University, an M.A in History and American Studies from Yale University, and a J.D. cum laude from the New York University School of Law in 1996. One of her best known cases is Grutter v. Bollinger, for which she served as lead counsel to student defendants in the University of Michigan affirmative action case.
Massie is also currently a member of the legal team challenging Ward Connerly’s attempts to ban affirmative action in Michigan.
These days, BAM-N spends their time blowing hot air about MCRI. For organizing that’s not from a freaky fringe group on MCRI, check out Citizens for a United Michigan. For more info, see my somewhat outdated information page: NoBAMN.com, or if you’re new to all this check out my BAM-N Update post from January 2004.
Friday, June 17th, 2005
Arborupdate: U-M Committee Recommends Coca-Cola Investigation
Also, PFAW: Save PBS Now! - (Send a letter to your congressperson)
Monday, June 13th, 2005
The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting free story about the University of Georgia, concluding the school’s more liberal tendancies cause fewer tensions with the mostly Republican state government and student body than expected, and the University actually has good relations with state government. In my experience to a lesser extent the same is true with the University of Michigan - for the most part the Republican-dominated legislature has good relations with the university.
Friday, June 10th, 2005
Remember all the backlash in the last year against Richard Florida and his Cool Cities theory? According to the News: “Boston and Boulder, Colo., are other cities Google is considering for the project, which seeks to tap communities with a large population of recent college graduates from 22 to 30 years old. … ” Shocking, I know. Now, do you think that there will be more or less companies like Google in the future?
The article also has this tidbit:
Google is also looking for space to digitize thousands of bound materials within U-M’s library system, said John Wilkin, associate university librarian. “I wish we could accommodate them on campus, but we simply don’t have the room.”
Google personnel are working at U-M’s Buhr Remote Shelving Facility, but Wilkin didn’t have an exact employee total or the amount of space they were using.
The project began last July, with a goal of finishing in six years, but the work could be done in three years, Wilkin said.
Thursday, May 26th, 2005
For four years, this blog was focused on events in Ann Arbor and at the University of Michigan.
- What was the old blog?: To read my last post before re-launching the site with different focus (I moved to Washington, D.C.) view my last entry with that template. The Michigan Daily also printed a short profile of the website.
- BAM-N: I have a website with information about the organization the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action by Any Means Necessary: NoBAMN.com. You can also peruse more recent content in my BAM-N category.
- Ann Arbor City Council Elections: In 2003, I sent a survey to all the city council candidates. View the results here: 2003 City Council Candidate Survey
- 9/11 Photo Gallery: I have posted a collection of photos of the 9/11 events in a gallery that gets my site lots of hits from the right wing website FreeRepublic.com.
- Borders Employee Strike: I closely followed the strike of employees of Borders’ Books Ann Arbor downtown location (the first store the company ever opened.) The employees eventually won a contract, but not without a strike. See my materials here: Borders Strike, or use the search box on the top right.
- History of Activism Class: I taught a class on the history of student activism at U-M. My class website has more information: “Student Activism and Social Change at the University of Michigan” The extensive coursepack I prepared for this course is in the Bentley library.
- Hash Bash: A true Ann Arbor tradition, and I collected some photos and other information on my Hash Bash page.
- Naked Mile: Another popular tradition, this one ended by administrators. I compiled my information on my Naked Mike page.
- Planada Building: The University tore down the historic Planada Apartment Complex to make room for … parking.
- MSA Elections: My blog was well known for its comprehensive student government election results.
- U-M Employee Political Giving: Interested to see what candidates and parties your professors and administrators are giving money to come election time? Check out my U-M Political Giving page.
- ‘Inside the Daily’: I wrote for the news staff and the opinion staff for the Michigan Daily, and was fired two or three) times (depending on who you ask). I sum it all up in my “Inside the Daily” Series.
- Birthday Freebies: My post on free things you can get in A2 on your birthday is always popular.
What are you looking for? If you have interests similar to mine, or are looking for more data than I have on the web for any of these topics, you may be interested in viewing my papers at the Bentley Historical Collection. Leave a comment.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2005
*** FILIBUSTER FOR DEMOCRACY***
STOP FIRST’S NUCLEAR OPTION
*** JOIN US ***
+ Thursday, May 19
+ 9 AM to 9 PM
+ Steps of the Union
Save the Senate’s voice in judicial nominations
Bring signs, reading material, and your voice!
Please email Kristin at purdykri at umich.edu for further questions. Also check out the Princeton Filibuster at: www.FilibusterFrist.com
Monday, April 25th, 2005
The Coke Coalition at the University of Michigan has been working to raise awareness about the pracices of the Coca-Cola corporation as part of the national Killer Coke campaign. Michigan Independent Columnist Ben Grimshaw wrote this about the coalition in a recent column, describing how it has helped various groups realize the interconnected nature of the issues they care about:
We need radical change and that is why I love the Coke coalition. The coalition has linked very different groups of student activists. The crimes of Coca-Cola have united groups who previously only dealt with an issue like the environment or labor rights or human rights or Israel-Palestine. As we work together we see more and more how each piece of any problem is interconnected. This understanding is essential if we are ever going to resolve these problems. I personally do not think working towards the goal of a post-war society is unreasonable or unworthy of my efforts.
The student-led coalition will be making a presentation today at 3:30 before the University’s Dispute Review Board, urging them to cut the University contract with the Coke Corporation. This message is from the coalition’s leadership:
“Tomorrow at the 3:30 hearing in Anderson of the Union, Coke is apparently sending ELEVEN reps–2 calling in from abroad to defend themselves against Amit Srivastava from India Resource and Dan Kovalik, lawyer from SINALTRAINAL (Colombian union that lost 9 workers murdered by paramilitary paid by Coke) and 2 student reps from the UM Coke Coalition (consists of 20 student groups, 5000 kids) in front of the Dispute Review Board.* The DRB will vote within 2 weeks of this trial whether Coke violates our ethical purchasing code b/c of its crimes in India and Colombia. YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!!! There will be press. There will be seas of students wearing black in solidarity with the Colombian unionists and people of India, in support of CUTTING THE CONTRACT. Be part of the action that will make ripple effects on the WORLD if we cut contracts!
Please show up at 3 on the steps of the Union for the rally wearing black.
While focusing on the company’s more blatant criminal acts (murdering unionists, sucking up so much groundwater wells go dry in India, etc), the coalition hasn’t discussed the nutritional impact of the consumption of soft drinks. Especially when consumed by small children, a segment of the market targeted by the major soft drink manufacturers, soft drinks can cause or contribute to obesity, malnutrition, and other health problems, as this report (see the press release) by Dr. Michael F. Jacobson of the nutrition advocacy organization the Center for Science in the Public interest concludes:
It is a fact, though, that soft drinks provide enormous amounts of sugar and calories to a nation that does not meet national dietary goals and that is experiencing an epidemic of obesity. The replacement of milk by soft drinks in teenage girls’ diets portends continuing high rates of osteoporosis. Soft drinks may also contribute to dental problems, kidney stones, and heart disease. Additives may cause insomnia, behavioral problems, and allergic reactions and may increase slightly the risk of cancer.
The report cites scientific evidence high consumption of soft drinks can cause osteoporosis (by replacing intake of milk), contribute tooth decay and kidney stones, and contribute to heart disease by encouraging the condition of “insulin resistance,” among others. In the third world, the pervasive availability of relatively inexpensive soft drinks can leave people with few options, particularly with the troubling trends of the privatization (or declining quality) of public water. Not only does the Coca-Cola Corporation have blood on its hands in Columbia and many other parts of the world, their existence as the only safe beverage choice in many places - and the lack of clean water and healthy alternatives in many countries - is itself a serious public health problem.
Sunday, April 24th, 2005
With all the excitement surrounding satellite and aerial photography sparked by Google Maps, I thought it might be a good time to point out that the University of Michigan Plant Extensions Department has a number of aerial photos on the web here. To view them all, click on the different parts of the campus on the left, or check out this directory.
As best as I can tell the photos were taken at least 2 years ago in the fall. I like this photo because you can see people sunbathing on the Diag.
Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
from ‘04 and ‘05 classes …
Lisa Yang (lwy) - USAC pres
Dana Baki (dbaki) - MSA
Antonina Nina Catalfio (acatalfi) - UMDM
Jaya Soni - Head Multicultural Greek Council (See the Daily on controversy)
Neal Pancholi - IASA president, AIO president, 2006 SAAN cochair
In my opinion, no self-respecting progressive should even consider joining Michigamua. If there was a very elite troup that performed blackface minstrelsy for around 90 years, and around year 100 asked you to join - would you? Of course not. I challenge anyone: go to the Bentley Historical Library. All of the organization’s internal communications are written in stylized english. All of the classes have taken nick-names. Their longtime letterhead contains gross stereotypes. The historical record is unambiguous - the group has an offensive history and identity. The leader interested in service has many options other than Michigamua. Plus, if you join Michigamua, when you try to run for public office or ask anyone I know for a job I will be there, holding you accountable for your actions.
Friday, April 15th, 2005
I am preparing a flurry of new publicity surrounding Michigamua. I have a few names from this year’s and last year’s classes - help me complete my list. Your confidentiality is ensured: rob at goodspeedupdate.com.
Monday, April 11th, 2005
The first issue of the Michigan Independent hits the U-M campus tomorrow. The Independent is supported by the Center for American Progress’s Campus Progress program, and is a new progressive newspaper.
Wednesday, March 30th, 2005
****The Graduate Employee Organization -MFT, AFT, AFL-CIO Local 3550 G.E.O. & S.O.L.E
(Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality) ****
> Sunday, 3pm, Michigan Union, Pond Room
Wondering why your GSI’s went ON STRIKE and why they might go out AGAIN?
Have QUESTIONS about their platform
(what they are asking the University)?
Want to know more about how they are defending LGBT rights includingtrying to SAVE SAME-SEX HEALTH BENEFITS?
HERE IS YOUR CHANCE to ask the questions you have to graduate student instructors/employees:
Pond Room in the Michigan Union
This is event is just for undergrads or others who have questions that they want answered.
Here is an update about what GEO has won in bargaining so far and what they
are still asking for- (Cut, see www.umgeo.org )
**Please forward on to your student orgs**
There are three available positions: Treasurer, Student General Counsel, and Chief of Staff.
Please answer all questions, and clearly indicate which position you are applying for. The first seven questions are generic. The last question is specific to the three positions. If you are applying for multiple positions, please answer the last question differently for each position you are interested in.
1. What is your vision for the Michigan Student Assembly?
2. How do you plan on implementing your vision/goals over the next year?
3. Explain the value of working together in teams, and cite examples from your life.
4. What is your schedule like for next year, and how much time can you devote to MSA Exec?
5. Are you available Sunday nights at 6:00pm?
6. How many Tuesday night meetings do you plan on missing throughout the year?
7. Why did you initially join MSA, and why do you want to become an integral part of MSA in the future?
8. Explain the role of the position you are interested in, and why you think you are most qualified for the job.
Please place applications in the mailbox of Jesse Levine by Friday, April 1st, 2005 at 9:30am. Please also sign up for an interview time at the front desk of MSA (3909 Michigan Union)
Do you have a strong opinion that you would like to share with U of M’s
Would you like to contribute to the first issue of U of M’s new progressive
The first issue of the Michigan Independent is hitting campus on April
12th, and your writing could be in it. We are U of M’s newest progressive
voice and our goal is to provide a forum for students to express their
opinions. We are calling for submissions from any student on campus about
ANYTHING. There is no limit to what you can write about. Write about what
you’re passionate about. And you don’t need to have any experience writing
for a publication to submit an article.
We need opinion pieces, in-depth features and profiles about progressive
students/professors/student groups on campus. We also need photographs!
Again, there is no limit to what photos you can submit - submit what you
think other progressive-minded students would like to see.
****Submissions are due APRIL 5TH to email@example.com****
Please refer to the attached document for submissions guidelines.
As you may have noticed, the mainstream media does not always do the best
job covering issues that progressives care about, and the Michigan
Independent is our chance to change that, so we hope you consider
The Michigan Independent Staff
Tuesday, March 29th, 2005
your presence is requested for a mid-day diag dance party hosted by yours truly,
dj max blixx.
come on out and get down to the best (only?) politically conscious disco-tech-house-boogie-funk in town. if you have class, skip it. put on your sneakers and prepare to dance. we are going to be setting up a sound system right on the diag from 12-1PM this wednesday, march 30. this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at best, and it’s something i’ve always wanted
don’t be late, it’s only an hour long. i hope to see you there-
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005
Obtaining photocopies at an official historical archive can be difficult. They usually charge per copy, and sometimes require you have them make the copies, which is time consuming. In some archives photocopies are sometimes prohibited, which makes transcribing documents a tedious prospect. However, many archives will allow digital photography of their holdings - but the problem is then what to do with the photos. They don’t print very well, and you can’t read the text well if you shrink it down to view or distribute on the web. The answer? The photo sharing site Flickr - where I can post comments, make available full versions of the images for those that are interested, and even categorize them with multiple keywords.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
The first teach-in on the Vietnam War was held in 1965 at the University of Michigan. Today, students and faculty have organized a 40th anniversary event on the “Evaluating the American Empire” with a variety of U-M professors including Ian Robinson, Charlie Bright, Ivette Perfecto, among others. They have set up a website here.
There is also a teach-in planned by United for Peace and Justice and the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, for George Washington University:
On the 40th Anniversary of
the first teach-in on the Vietnam War
NATIONAL TEACH-IN ON IRAQ: How Can We End This War?
Thursday, March 24, 7:00pm - 10:00pm
George Washington University
Jack Morton Auditorium, Media and Public Affairs Building
805 21st St., NW (Corner of 21st and H St. Map (PDF file)
Foggy Bottom/ GWU metro on Blue and Orange line
Free and open to the public!
Sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies with United for Peace and Justice,
Black Voices for Peace, Students Against the War in Iraq, Military Families Speak
Out, and Global Exchange
Opening Remarks on the legacy of the Vietnam teach-in movement by Professor Marcus Raskin, GWU and the Institute for Policy Studies. Panel Discussion with: Naomi Klein, award winning journalist and author of No Logo; Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies; Damu Smith, Black Voices for Peace; Anas Shallal, Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives; Celeste Zappala, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace and member of Military Families Speak Out, whose son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed in Baghdad in 2004.
Two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the tragedy of war continues and the U.S. has no plan for bringing the troops home. The death toll soars on all sides, especially among civilians. The cost of the war mounts daily as vital social programs are being cut at home. But many questions remain: Did the January 2005 elections improve the situation in Iraq? Is the US troop presence in Iraq helping stabilize the country, or is it at the root of Iraq’s deadly violence? And what
are the true costs of the war at home – its impact on military families and returning veterans, its $200+ billion price tag, and the legacy of occupation on the people of Iraq?
Join us in Washington, DC, to consider these issues to mark the 40th anniversary of the first Vietnam War teach-in in 1965. Simultaneous teach-ins will be held in San Francisco and Ann Arbor to launch a United for Peace and Justice education campaign on how to end the war in Iraq.
Monday, March 21st, 2005
The GEO members at the Feb 23 Membership Meeting voted 228-1 in favor of approving the strike platform as proposed and authorizing the Stewards’ Council to send out strike ballots through the mail to all union members. They also approved an action timeline including a one-day walkout on Thursday, March 24 and a potential open-ended strike to begin on Monday, April 2.
Assuming the mail ballot comes back with an affirmative majority, the GEO membership will reconvene at a meeting on Wednesday, March 23 to consider the Administration’s final offer and decide whether to accept it or to follow-through with the walkout.
The University of Michigan Alumni Association is offering alumni who are not members of the alumni association a free 30-day trial of their online social networking tool, InCircle. Developed by people connected to Stanford University, InCircle works something like Friendster or TheFaceBook, but is designed for groups of alumni. (InCircle is a product of the Affinity Engines company) Currently, aside from the free 30-day trial, the Alumni Association is requiring you join their group to use the service. I believe they should allow ALL alumni to join the service and provide extra services to Alumni Association members, since having a critical mass of participants is critical for these things to be a success. I think if they provide limited, free accounts to everyone, in the end they would attract far more people to the association than requiring you join up front. The popular alumni networking company classmates has chosen this tactic: giving everyone free accounts, but allowing subscribers to get more functionality and information from the system.
As part of their effort to boost membership they’re also giving away iPods and t-shirts to some people who use the system before June 30.
> Are you a member? View my inCircle profile page.
Wednesday, March 16th, 2005
TIM WISE SPEAKS ON THE MCRI, AFFIRM. ACTION, & OTHER RACE/CLASS
ISSUES - MON, MAR 21, 7PM
The MSA Peace & Justice Commission, The Minority Affairs Commission
and UM NAACP Present:
The most Raucous and Raging–Wildly Engaging–Totally Mind Changing
Civil Rights Roadshow in Town…
That angry white male who has spent his life fighting for racial justice
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and Affirmative Action!
Race Construction and Privilege!
What the heck we should do!
Back By Popular Demand. To Blow Your mind.
Monday March 21, 7:00, East Quad Auditorium
Mr. Wise’s Bio:
Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, “one of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,” by best-selling author and University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Eric Dyson.
Wise has spoken at over 350 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, and the Law Schools at Yale and Columbia. He has trained corporate, government, and law enforcement officials on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions, and has served as a consultant for plaintiff’s attorneys in federal discrimination cases in New York and Washington State. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and conducted trainings with physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care.
Wise is the author of two books to be released in 2005: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press) and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge). Wise is also featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories (Duke University Press).
Wise has a B.A. in Political Science from Tulane University, where his anti-apartheid work received international attention and the thanks of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He and his wife Kristy are the proud parents of two daughters.
Tuesday, March 15th, 2005
I just sent this letter to MSA.
I’ve been hearing a lot about the PIRGIM proposal before MSA lately. As a former MSA member, former CSJ member, former Michigan Daily staffer, and blogger who wrote about MSA for four years, I thought I would weigh in.
From what I have read and heard, the behavior of Elliot Wells-Reid and the other opponents of PIRGIM has been underhanded, unfair, and downright nasty.
Case in point: Mr. Wells-Reid has filed a CSJ case alleging PIRGIM will cause MSA to violate their tax-exempt status. In reality, BOTH 501©3 and 501©4 organizations can engage in some direct lobbying. I work for an organization that has both c3 and c4 branches and the c4 branch even has a full time lobbyist. Furthermore, members of PIRGIM have repeatedly told the Daily they plan to engage in NO DIRECT LOBBYING - so the point is moot, right?
I appreciate Mr. Wells-Reid’s concern about the future of MSA. However, why did he file a CSJ case when he could have quickly resolved what is a pretty clear-cut legal matter by consulting an attorney? It looks to me like he just wanted to block PIRGIM from passing, but didn’t have the courage to attack it directly.
I remember some similar arguments from when I was on MSA under president Matt Nolan. Mr. Nolan was pro-life and opposed affirmative action but didn’t have the courage to admit either publicly - so he and his allies would instead would use parliamentary maneuvers and false rhetoric to try to prevent student initiatives and resolutions they opposed from passing.
In fact, the maneuvers of Elliot Wells-Reid and his allies sound similar to tactics used by the Republican Party in Congress here in Washington. In the U.S. House Republican leaders have broken their rules to extend time limits to corral enough votes to force through unpopular legislation, and currently in the Senate some Republican leaders are considering eliminating the 200-year-old tradition of the filibuster using something called the “Nuclear Option” because they’re upset only 95% of Bush’s judicial nominees were approved last year.
You may hear many arguments about PIRGIM and the role of MSA and I encourage you to do your homework and think for yourself. Many opponents of PIRGIM will oppose it because they specifically oppose a pro-student political agenda: fighting for tenant rights, lowering the cost tuition, and making textbooks more affordable.
As a governing body, I believe your actions should always be guided by a desire to work for the interests of your constituents. Whether or not PIRGIM is the best way to address the interests of students, they deserve a fair consideration. In his long tenure in and around MSA, Elliot Wells-Reid has done little to serve student interests compared with the members of Students for PIRGIM.
Former MSA-LSA Member and Student Rights Commission Chair University of Michigan BA ‘04 Field Coordinator, People For the American Way
It looks like Google has some answers!
The world is full of right wing hack organizations funded by shadowy extremists like Richard M. Scaife. You better get good at researching them, because as they say, old bloggers just fade away …
Friday, March 11th, 2005
*** There is a NEW magazine coming to Michigan geared towards serving the entire PROGRESSIVE community here on campus! ***
::: MSA CHAMBERS (3rd floor of the Union) AT 9PM ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 16TH :::
** Come learn about how you will benefit from this new publication and how all the various progressive organizations on campus will benefit as well. **
* Also at this meeting, apply to be on the staff of the Michigan Independent! There are a number of positions available, each of which needs to be filled including: *
* Managing Editor
* Editorial Board seats
* Graphic Artists
* Layout Artists
* Production manager
This is a unique chance for all progressive-minded students at this university to voice and share their ideas with thousands of others. Please come to this meeting so you can be part of this incredible opportunity.
Any questions? Contact:
rjwerder at umich.edu
These rock, I wore one.
The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning invites you to
participate in the recognition of GRADUATING SENIORS and GRADUATING GRADUATE
STUDENTS who have made important contributions to the community through
community service and social action. Our goal is to make visible the
students at UM who commit themselves to this work.
We will provide service cords (similar to honor cords) to nominees at no
cost to be worn at graduation. As students leaders/ faculty/staff who work
community-involved students please identify graduating seniors and graduate
students you think should be honored. You will receive the cords to
Please provide us with the following information by April 1, 2005.
1. Nominators name, department or organization, email
2. Each student’s full name and email address
The nominator may pick up cords for their nominees at the Ginsberg Center
(1024 Hill Street at East University). Cords will be available April 8,
ALSO, for the first time this year, we are asking graduating seniors to
sign a Graduation Pledge of Social Responsibility. If you would be willing
distribute pledge cards to your organization or class, please contact me,
or come by
the Ginsberg Center after March 17th to pick them up.
Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions. Thank you for
your help with this initiative.
Anita Bohn, Director of Student Initiatives
Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning
Division of Student Affairs
University of Michigan
Friday, February 25th, 2005
Sometimes satire doesn’t quite work …
… Jack sat there silently for a few minutes, and then tears formed in his eyes. As they rolled down his cheeks, he looked up at me and said, “Daddy, are those two men going to hell?” I nodded. “Should I pray for them?” he asked.
The question caught me so completely off guard that I began to cry myself. I hugged my son tightly and told him, “Yes, Jack. Pray as hard as you can.” I had never been so proud of one of my children.
It’s funny how you try so hard to teach your children the right thing to do, and sometimes they’re the ones who end up teaching you. I realized that my heart had hardened on the homosexuals. We shouldn’t scorn them or try to cast them out of society. We should pray for them. Only with God’s help can they learn the error of their ways and get their lives back on track. …
This Michigan Daily story is stirring up some controversy on their comment function, including Mr. Hoard’s inbox, I assume. He’s a rather cliche liberal who might not understand why shit like this pisses people off.
He’s also the author of this anti-flyering column (where he says “Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I think people should get to know each other before they give one another flyers.") which caused this letter to the Daily.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005
Yesterday, I turned over many of my papers I accumulated during my four and a half years living in Ann Arbor to the Bentley Historical Collection at the University of Michigan.
While I have been told it will take some time before the papers are publicly available as they receive a large amount of donations I thought I would post a description of its contents.
The collection, which will be available under my name, will include the following things:
- My Course Outline and Coursepack: I have included both the initial and then supplementary coursepack for a 1-credit honors mini-course I taught Winter 2004 titled “Student Activism and Social Change at the University of Michigan“. Some of the readings are from reports and books I found in the U-M libraries, some from the Michigan Daily, and some from books in my personal collection.
- Research for Investigative Journalism Work: Including eye-opening FOIAs about the re-structuring of the Organizational Studies major, University-coordinated activities with local law enforcement officials to crack down on the Naked Mile when it was decided the tradition should be abolished, police reports from on-campus incidents involving varsity football players in the late 1990s, names of members of the secret juries that heared appeals under the University’s Code of Student Conduct, a study commissioned by University Housing regarding the future of the University-operated snack bars, and more.
- Information about Vulcan and Michigamua: Current membership information for both groups including a copy of a 2004 Vulcan publication with a member directory, and a copy of a Michigamua directory from 1997. Also included is a variety of materials accumulated about Michigamua including internal email correspondence I obtained as a reporter for the Michigan Daily, lists of members sent to me by anonymous sources, and miscellaneous other documents.
- My Thesis and Supplementary Documentation: I have included a copy of my thesis, titled Urban Renewal in Postwar Detroit: The Gratiot Area Redevelopment Project. I also include a binder of articles and other materials culled from old copies of the Michigan Chronicle and other sources in the U-M and Detroit Public Library on urban “renewal” in Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s.
- A Large Collection of BAM-N Propaganda: I have long been fascinated by the organization the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary and the cadre of Trotkite organizers who operate it. I have compiled an archive of information about them on the website NOBAMN.com, and my papers include many of that information as well as a large collection of the organization’s publications and flyers.
- ‘Inside the Daily’: I have included a printed version of my Inside the Daily series.
Why the Bentley? First, I wanted this information preserved in a public yet secure location. Most of its salient information is already replicated on this website, and although something of a conspiracy theorist I believed they would follow my wishes and make the information public. Second, as the University’s official archive their funding and future seems assured for the forseeable future. They recently expanded, and the University has a vested interest in the health and future of the archive.
Searching This WebsiteThere are three ways to find information on this website:
> First, you can conduct a simple google search by clicking here, or in google add the text “site:goodspeedupdate.com” to the end of your keywords. This method includes all the content I have posted and should be your first post.
> Second, to search in just the blog entries, use the small search box on the upper right. This does not include much of the older content like salaries or political giving.
> Third, browse by topic. On the bottom left there is a “categories” section. Most of the larger posts on the topics listed have been categorized - simply click on the subjects to browse the posts.
If you have any trouble finding anything, let me know: rob at goodspeedupdate.com
Monday, January 24th, 2005
I got this email recently, it sounds like an interesting event in Ann Arbor:
How loud is your voice?
Can you make a difference?
Has anything changed in the past 30 years?
Come learn about how three periods of social activism changed the University
of Michigan forever.
The Untouchable Brothers of Lambda Theta Phi present:
THE HISTORY OF ACTIVISM AT MICHIGAN
In the past 35 years student activism has shaped University policies, come
learn how students in the past set the foundations for our future. Hear
first hand accounts from people who were there in the struggle for equality
at the University of Michigan.
Monday February 7
LAMBDA THETA PHI
The Men in Brown and White
Sunday, January 23rd, 2005
Wednesday, January 12th, 2005
T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f M i c h i g a n
U N I O N O F P R O G R E S S I V E A L U M N I
—————– ANNOUNCEMENT ——————
PLANNING TO PROTEST THE INAUGURATION? NEED
HOUSING IN DC? WE CAN HELP!
The D.C. chapter of the U-M Union of Progressive Alumni is offering protester housing with U-M alumni in the Washington D.C. area during the time surrounding the inauguration.
** To make a housing request send an email with your Name, Email, Cell Phone Number (if you have it), dates you hope to find housing, and any special considerations to project coordinator Hannah Arkin: HannahArkin (at) yahoo.com **
* FYI The Michigan Student Assembly is sponsoring transportation to D.C. leaving Ann Arbor on 6 p.m. Wednesday Jan. 19 returning 7 a.m. Friday, Jan. 21 for $25. For more information contact
MSA.BUSTRIP (at) UMICH.EDU.
* To read about some of the many events planned surrounding the inauguration, see www.counter-inaugural.org.
| The University of Michigan Union of Progressive Alumni is a global membership organization of alumni of the University of Michigan interested in progressive politics.
| To subscribe to our FREE Yahoo group send a message to: email@example.com. Current and short-term students encouraged to join!
University of Michigan Union of Progressive Alumni
PO Box 7207
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
UPA.core (at) umich.edu
Friday, January 7th, 2005
A University of Michigan employee recently sent me an email pointing me to a 2003 article which reiterates that employees are allowed to discuss their salaries under the National Labor Relations Act.
“If you post the 2005 raises, post this message along with it (attached). I am a U of M employee. It is an article I cut out of the Detroit Free Press about a year ago and I would like to make a bunch of copies and stick it on tack boards around our department, but I know someone in administration will see it and take them all down. It’s called “Don’t be shy: Ask around to see if your pay is fair.” It goes on to say the federal law protects your right to inquire about your salary. I know administration tells everyone that they are NOT ALLOWED to discuss their salary, but this article sets it straight.:
The article, titled “Don’t be shy: Ask around to see if your pay is fair,” encourages employees to investigate how much their coworkers are getting paid, saying “don’t worry if your office has a policy forbidding salary discussions. Charles Craver, a labor expert at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., said your right to talk about your pay is protected under the National Labor Relations Act.”
Many employees have found my resources after the U-M libraries posted a link to my blog in their InfoDex:
FACULTY AND STAFF SALARY RECORD
The annual list of salaries of UM faculty and staff is available at the Information Center, 2nd fl, Graduate Library, in University Reserves on the 1st fl of the UGL, and at the UGL Reference Desk.
Questions about details not covered by the salary list can be directed to Janet Gilson, Records and Information Services, 763-4502. List can be purchased by anyone for $28 plus $6 shipping if it is mailed.
Michigan Daily sells a separate, different salary supplement that is spun out of the same database. The Daily’s list includes only faculty P&A and includes date of hire. It costs $8 and goes on sale sometime after the salary list comes out.
A local blogger has posted the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 staff salary lists on the Web, as giant spreadsheets. But please note that neither is the most current salary list. For the 2003-2004 list see:
For the 2002-2003 list see:
Monday, January 3rd, 2005
“As inaugural planners organize a $40 million pageant for President Bush this month, Ashwini Hardikar is preparing for another kind of spectacle.
The University of Michigan junior is one of thousands coming to Bush’s second inauguration to show not their support for the president but their rage.
“A lot of us are going to the inauguration out of desperation,” said Hardikar, 20, who helped form a campus counter-inaugural committee to coordinate student trips to Washington. “We feel like we have to take desperate measures to feel like we’ve made a difference.”
The Jan. 20th inauguration – shaping up to be one of the most heavily secured and expensive in history – will be the scene of small and large demonstrations. Organizers from dozens of local and national groups are planning marches, rallies and acts of civil disobedience on Inauguration Day and the days before and after.
Activists say the demonstrations will be as large – if not larger – than the protests at Bush’s first inauguration in January 2001. They vow to create one of the biggest displays of opposition to the administration’s foreign and domestic policies since the mass demonstrations at the summer’s Republican National Convention in New York. … “
Thus begins a story about the planned protests in Washington D.C. for President Bush’s second inauguration to be held this January 20th:
Tuesday, December 14th, 2004
Google has announced today a program to digitize the libraries of four major research universities: Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Oxford in England. Only Standford and Michigan have thus far agreed to have their entire collections scanned - for Michigan, that means over 7.4 million volumes. Google expects to finish scanning the Michigan collection in 6 years. Books whose copyrights have expired will be completely available online for free through Google’s search engine, and works under copyright will still be searchable, although only small excerpts will be available.
The University of Michigan has further revealed: “Google began discussing this project with the University of Michigan Library in 2002. U-M served as the premiere testing site for Google’s non-destructive scanning technology. The digitization workflow was also first implemented at the University of Michigan.”
Google founder Larry Page is a Michigan graduate.
I wonder, if Google plans to scan 1 million books per year at their peak at the University, where in Ann Arbor do they plan to set up shop?
> UM PR: “Google/U-M project opens the way to universal access to information”
> AP: “Google to Scan Books From Big Libraries”
> W. Post: “Google to Digitize Some Library Collections”
> Michigan Daily: “Google to digitize ‘U’ libraries”
Friday, December 3rd, 2004
I sent this letter to the editor to the Michigan Daily a couple days ago. They haven’t printed it yet, so I thought I would publish it here:
To the editor:
I found the Daily’s story today, “Nearly two weeks after elections … ” (12/1) very interesting.
In it, Michigan Student Assembly Vice President Anita Leung tells the Daily it “never occurred” to MSA to post the election results on their website, and Rules and Elections Committee Chair Russ Garber said he didn’t think anyone would read the results if they did.
While I was an undergraduate at Michigan, I posted the results to seven consecutive student government elections to my blog, goodspeedupdate.com, in each case just hours after the unofficial results were released to candidates. I found there was considerable interest in the results, and I attracted thousands of visitors to my website before and after each election.
After this fall’s student government election, in addition to posting the results to my website, I posted them on arborupdate.com, an Ann Arbor news blog I helped found.
Should MSA post the election results on the voting website? Yes. However, more importantly, I agree with the MSA representative who said he felt it was the Daily’s job to publish the full results. As a media organization they should print the full results and post them on their website, or risk finding themselves futher eclipsed by newer media.
BA History ‘04
Campaign Assistant, People for the American Way
Friday, November 19th, 2004
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004
Longtime University of Michigan professor and administrator B. Joseph White has accepted a position as President of the University of Illinois.
White served as interim president of the University of Michigan between the Bollinger and Coleman adminisrations, and was widely liked by students. He was thought to be a contentor for the position of University president, but the UM Board of Regents selected Coleman, then the president of the University of Iowa. He served as dean of the Business school from 1991 until 2001, overseeing a time of dramatic growth for the school.
Saturday, October 16th, 2004
I take requests. Here are past members of the University of Michigan Engineering College Honor society Vulcan:
Fall 1995 “We-10″
Sven G. Bilen - Helios
Brian J. Bishop - Hermes
William E. Cohen - Dionysus
Jennifer L. Cook - Cybele
Arus T. D’Souza - Harpocrates
Tammy M. (Rice) Ellies - Artemis
Mary Thomas - Hestia
Stephani (Halloran) Nappier - Tethys
Laura A. Sebesta - Demeter
Hon: Margaret A. Fillon - Astraea
Winter 1996 “Delos”
Lauren (Somershoe) Bauerschmidt - Demeter
Roslyn M. Bloom - Astraea
Sean P. Burke - Heracles
Enrico Ferrari - Apollo
Catherine S. Peponis - Cybele
Mira K. Sahney - Hebe
Atisa Sioshansi - Astarte
Amber L. Thweatt - Eos
Charles A. VanHoy - Momus
Terrance E. Weiss - Harpocrates
Belinda Williams - Psyche
Hon: Thomas D. Gilespie - Anteros
Fall 1996 “Epidaurus”
Kimberly S. DIllon - Cybele
Jason H. Bubolz - Apollo
Amy M. Fischer - Astraea
Dan P. Griffith - Pan
Rashaunda M. Henderson - Iris
Joseph E. Magro - Momus
David J. Messih - Harpocrates
Jyshri Sabarinathan - Hebe
Marie A. (Wiecinski) Solem - Tethys
Hon: John W. Halloran - Hypnos
Thursday, October 14th, 2004
While controversy swirled around elitist Michigan “honor” society Michigamua for years for their abuse of Native American Culture and status as the most prestigious honor society at Michigan, others have quietly existed and passed into obscurity. (Most recently, a local blogger has attacked student activists for demanding Michigamua be removed from transcripts - read his entry and my response here.)
Aside from Phoenix, for years a women’s only society recently made co-ed, there exists VULCAN, an engineering “honor” society created in 1904. The group’s symbol, the anvil, can be seen in a small marker near the Engineering Arch in West Hall (where engineering was located before being moved to North Campus) Although as a secret society they have their own set of internal rituals and mythology, centered on Vulcan, the Roman god of the forge.
After obtaining an official reunion publication and posting their membership for recent years and some basic information, I haven’t heard much about them.
Recently, however, some new information has come to my attention. First, an anonymous tipster points me to this document, apparently a sign-up form for duties during their initiation rituals for the Winter 2004 class. Although at first glance rather boring, quite a bit of information can be distilled from the document. First, the initiation seems to consist of a few parts, and more can be determined by reading about the roles required at each stage. They are: Phase I – Chariot Ride, Phase II – The Temple, Phase III – Forge Ritual, Phase IV – Toil of Vulcan, Phase V – Anvil Ceremony, Phase VI – Lurie Bell Tower Ceremony, Phase VII – Vulcans Feast.
The “temple” the speak of is apparently on North Campus, and the ceremony includes activities in the Lurie Bell Tower, and the Dow Building. Other activities planned for the weekend include a “Sunday Morning Anvil Cleaning” and a “Monday Formal Night” where members signed up for the Scavenger Hunt, Ashley’s, Charlie’s, Old Anvil Site (presumably Central Campus), Starbuck’s, and Mt. Aetna Site.
The engineers seem to have updated there ceremonies to take into consideration new buildings and (perhaps) a new “temple” space, which this document suggests is on campus, which would be in violation of the agreement the University announced at the conclusion of the 2000 Tower Occupation where administrators said all organizations would be treated the same when it came to University facilities. (Perhaps the “temple” is held in a student organization cubicle in Pierpont Commons!)
Given the plausibility of this document, let’s move to another correspondence I’ve received. A 2003 electrical engineering graduate writes to me that he was “disgusted by the elitist vulcans” as a student, and offers what he claims to be a script from their induction ceremony, which seems to explain why the anvil must be cleaned the Sunday after the initiation!
Note: The “Ashes” mentioned here are actually a mixture of raw eggs, salad dressing, jello, mud, baking powder, vinegar, and other assorted items.
Abbreviations - GIV=Grand Imperial Vulcan
Place ashes on anvil before first neophyte arrives. Neophyte is led to the anvil, where his or her hands are placed on the monument. Remove the blindfold and instruct the neophyte to look down and NOT to open his or her eyes.
BGIV: “Bow your head before the Grand Imperial Vulcan”
BGIV: “O Mighty Grand Imperial Vulcan, I bring you one NEOPHYTE NAME, who deems himself/herself worthy of membership in the Vulcan Society
All: “Worthy??? – hahahahaha – Aye-Cho-Mem!”
GIV: “By the command of mighty Vulcan, let this neophyte henceforth be known
as NEOPHYTE ANVIL NAME,… And so that it will not forget, let its name and symbol of our society be emblazoned upon its body.
All: “hjssssss,” as BGIV stamps anvil on forehead. “Aye-Cho-Mem!”
BGIV: “What is your name, neophyte?”
Neophyte attempts to give his correct name.
GIV: “NEOPHYTE ANVIL NAME, I will now ask you to confirm that you possess the four qualities of Vulcans. The Vulcans that have come before you, who have embodied these traits, have placed their ashes on the symbol of Vulcan
in front of you. This bucket contains your ashes that has been carried along the treacherous journey from Vulcan’s forge, through the slime pit, to fire, and your ashes have been tainted by the foul stench of the slime pits! In asserting that you possess the following qualities, add your ashes to the symbol of Vulcan.”
(pictures will be taken of the neophyte while adding the ashes to Vulcan’s
(neophyte adds ashes to symbol of Vulcan)
(neophyte adds ashes to the symbol of Vulcan)
(neophyte adds ashes to the symbol of Vulcan)
GIV: And most of all, Humility?
(neophyte adds ashes to symbol of Vulcan)
GIV: Neophyte, we ask that you go now, and reflect on these four qualities
that you affirm you posses.
All: “Take it away!” Neophyte is reblindfolded and taken away to see Sister
Tuesday, October 12th, 2004
Things seem a little quiet around Ann Arbor these days?
I just posted some Ann Arbor events on upcoming.org: Noam Chomsky is coming, so is Seymour Hersh, Teach for America is showing a documentary about their origins, American Movement for Israel is hosting a presidential debate watching party at Hillel this week, Rad.art’s fabulous “Paper Ballots, Rubber Bullets” film series continues this Wednesday with ‘What America Needs‘.
If that weren’t enough GEIU is recruiting students and faculty to get paid to study and work abroad, my friend Sam is compiling a zine targeting pro-Bush jews to convince them to vote for Kerry (swoll at umich.edu for info), friend Ari Paul wrote a letter to the Daily, and Ypsiblogger Steve Cherry thinks the fire at Willow Run sounds suspicious.
Friday, September 24th, 2004
The Detroit News published a story today about voter registration on college campuses in Michigan, which has kicked into high gear since the registration deadline of Oct. 4 is coming up. The story also features a picture of Ramya Raghavan:
… Ramya Raghavan, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Michigan and chairwoman of the U-M College Democrats, said a lot of young people have been touched in some way by the war in Iraq and have concerns about the possibility of a draft.
“People are feeling that this is the best time … to get involved,” said Raghavan, whose group has doubled its membership from 800 to 1,600 since August. “People, especially young people, want to believe that they left their mark on this election.” ..
> Detroit News: “Politicians storm Michigan campuses to get out vote”
> More info: U-M Voice Your Vote, U-M College Democrats’ Blog, The New Voters Project
To commemorate the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, I’ve organized my materials related to Michigamua, the University of Michigan secret society with a long history of bastardizing Native American culture. To read all the blog entries I have written on this group, click on “Michigamua” under “categories” on the left side. (Scroll down)
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004
This website was cited in a recently-released report on barriers to student voting issued by the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund’s Project Democracy. The report, titled “Not Home, Not Welcome: Barriers To Student Voters” (PDF) concludes
“If students cannot register or vote the first time they attempt to exercise their fundamental right, they will be less likely to participate in democracy in the future. Increasing the number of young voters will lead to increased overall voter turnout in both the short and long term.
The report cites my 2003 City Council Election page for a section on gerrymandering of students in Santa Barbara and Ann Arbor.
UPDATE: The report was covered by the Washington Post today as well as many other media outlets. It was largely written by U-M student and member of Students for Pirgim Ellen Kolasky - good work, Ellen!
Tuesday, June 1st, 2004
According to an article he penned for the progressive website AlterNet, former Michigan Daily editor and Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden turned down membership in Michigamua - in the 1960s. However, he admits joing the now-defunct (I think) LSA society called the Druids.
” … I was a member of a secret society during the same era as Bush and Kerry, at the University of Michigan, and can testify that these are profoundly lasting experiences. As a junior, I was tapped for the Druids, which involved a two-day ritual that included being stripped to my underpants, pelted with eggs, smeared with red dye and tied to a campus tree. These humiliations signified my rebirth from lowly student journalist to Big Man on Campus.
Soon, however, I became alienated. None of the bonding could make me feel I actually belonged. Perhaps I was an outsider by nature, an Irish Catholic descendant of immigrants, first in my family to attend university. The clubbiness had one purpose, as a source told Alexandra Robbins for her book on Skull and Bones. It was “to make the other people who didn’t get in feel bad.” But even as an insider, I felt bad, undeserving, resentful.
When I was tapped in my senior year for the most prestigious secret society, Michigauma, I decided instead to hide out in a girlfriend’s apartment, becoming the first refusenik in Michigauma history. But I still felt like something was wrong with me, that I didn’t have the right stuff, that I was blowing my future. … “
> AlterNet.org: “When bonesman fight”
> See my related post: Current student government leaders ‘turn down the tap’
Who were the Druids, you ask? For that, we turn to something called “The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey” This is a massive set of volumes about University history published between 1817 and 1975, although most of the contents were written and compiled in the 1940s and 1950s. The university has digitized all the volumes in this set and made them searchable online at this URL:
A quick search pulled up this entry from a 1940s volume of the survey in a section about a number of campus societies, including Michigamua, Druids, Mortar Board, Sphinx, Owls, Vulcans, Triangles, most of which no longer exist.
On a spring evening of each year, the members of Druids, garbed in their traditional gowns and hoods, with torches in hand, march from the Forest room in the Union to the Druid rock where some twenty neophytes await the ordeal of initiation. Finishing this informal part of the proceedings, the members, singing the “Men of Druids” song, lead the “Awenyds” back to the Forest room, where formal ceremonies are held. With these at an end, a new class is welcomed into the society to carry on the purpose and traditions of Druids.
The organization was established in 1909-10 by twenty men as the Senior Honorary Society of the Literary College, with eligibility to membership based upon meritorious services to the University and selection by the members. Professor Arthur L. Cross and the late Dean John R. Effinger were chosen as the first two honorary members from the faculty, remaining active until their deaths. Druids counts among its alumni the late Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy and Dean Earl Moore, of the School of Music.
The purpose of Druids is to coalesce the aims and efforts of its members so as to serve the University better by lending the united support of the society to each member in his fields of activity.
Thomas K. Fisher”
What evidence is there that the Druids no longer exist? In Fall 2000, a Druid alumn wrote a letter to the official U-M newsletter Michigan Today asking whether the organization was still active, saying “Like Michigamua, Druids was assigned a private meeting room in the Union Tower. On several visits to the Michigan Union in the years since I graduated, I inquired of staff as to whether Druids still existed and met in the Union and whether I could have access its meeting room but none of the Union staffers to whom I spoke has ever acknowledged having any knowledge of either Druids or Michigamua.” The next month, in a letter reminiscing about that organization’s induction rituals, 1964 graduate Roger Lowenstein quips that “Mr. Berger owes us some 37 years of back membership dues, plus interest. He may send the check to me and I’ll take care of it.” Draw your own conclusions.
Tuesday, April 20th, 2004
“In a series of events that made national headlines, the [Yale Secret Society Skull and] Bones class of 1991 eventually tapped female juniors. […]
In 1991, after approximately eight hundred living members voted by mail, Bones narrowly endorsed the admission of women. But in early September, the day before the women were to be initiated, a faction led by patriarch William F. Buckley (1950) obtained from New Haven Superior Court Judge Donald Celotto a court order that temporarily blocked the 1991 club from initiating the nine men and six women it had tapped; as a result the ceremony was canceled. …. Bones held a second vote on October 23. More than 425 members came to the tomb and hundreds more voted by proxy; the votes tallied 368 to 320 in favor that women should be elected to the society. The women were initiated on Sunday, October 27.
Senators David Boren and John Kerry later disclosed that they voted for the admittance of women. George Bush and George W. Bush have never confessed how they voted, though George W. might have provided a clue when in 1994 he told PBS producer Lynn Novick, a woman who graduated from Yale in 1983, that Yale “went downhill since they admitted women.” During his 1988 presidential campaign, George Bush admitted he was not necessarily included to let women into the society.”
– From Secrets of the Tomb, pp. 157-158.
According to the New York Times, Michigamua admitted its first women in 1999 to be members of the “Pride” of 2000. (See Robyn Meredith, “Michigan Students Protest Campus Club’s Indian Relics,” New York Times 13 Feburary 2000, Sec. 1, p. 18) (Reprint available here)
Thursday, April 15th, 2004
What’s going on?
It’s a busy time of year, to say the least.
Local and Campus News
- Stephanie Ridella, a 19-year old resident of South Quad from Troy, Michigan is missing. AANews: “Missing U-M student raises fears”
- The City of Ann Arbor has announced they’ll install a median and “eventually” a traffic light on Plymouth Road, near where two U-M students were killed trying to cross the street. My view: two deaths are two too many: install them ASAP. (AANews: “Plymouth Road Changes proposed”)
- Air quality in Washtenaw County is among the lowest in the nation, yet another reason why the region should vigorously move forward to increase funding for public transit, and freeze construction of sprawl and more roads.
- The Lecturers’ Employee Organization held a “work-in” yesterday in the lobby of the Fleming Administration building to keep pressure up on the University. Daily: “Lecturers urge ‘U’ to resume contract talks”
- A law signed by Governor Granholm today mean those found guilty of “minor in possession of alcohol” who violate their probation would face “up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine under the new law.” (Daily: “New Law Increases MIP penalties”)
- At Goodness Day today, a group from East Quad was handing out pirate flags. Although I’m not sure if it was the East Quad Governing Council or the “Independent Republic of the RC” (I’m not sure if they’re two different entities), but it brought to mind that group. Although pirate flags are neat, if it was the “republic” I hope they realize its not accurate to call yourself an independent republic if the RC is still run as a dictatorship - meaning its administration doesn’t involved the formalized input of students. (Certainly, it’s a benevolent one at that). Unless student input is formalized at the highest levels, I don’t think it could be considered a “republic".
Monday, April 12th, 2004
It has been rumored that current Michigan Student Assembly president Jason Mironov was tapped by Michigamua to be a member of their “Pride of 2005.” Well, it was true he was tapped, however Mr. Mironov has decided he did not want to be a member of that organization. He told me that he ” … chose not be part of the organization after I had done my own homework and because of the controversy surrounding it.” Mironov also told me he intends to use his position to encourage dialogue about Michigamua on campus.
In addition to Mr. Mironov, MSA Vice President Jenny Nathan turned down a tap to be a member of Phoenix’s 2005 class. Here’s a paragraph she sent me about that decision:
Jenny Nathan, MSA Vice President 2004-2004, College Dems Chair 2003-2004
Tapped by Phoenix, March of 2004
I turned down the Phoenix Tap because joining a secret society would violate and betray every value that I have worked and fought for on campus over the last 3 years. Honesty, transparency, equality, a level playing field–the elitism and secrecy of the Tower societies contradict every one of these values. In College Dems and on MSA I have worked to represent ALL STUDENTS. As a white, Jewish woman, I have worked to build bridges and establish relationships with people from all different backgrounds–relationships that are built on TRUST, as well as a mutual desire to see positive changes here on campus and on a larger scale. If I were to join a secret society, I would be betraying the trust that I work every day to earn. The history of the Tower societies–Michigamua, Phoenix, and Vulcan has caused so much pain and division amongst people I know and care about. Even if the societies claim to have changed their ways, the damage is done. I turned down Phoenix on the spot, and the women who tapped me said that they had anticipated that I would refuse, and that alone I took as an honor. “
More people who have turned town taps are forthcoming …
Michigamua 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”
Friday, April 9th, 2004
“The struggles of Native Americans are not new. Since European contact, we have fought to retain our dignity in the face of oppression and assimilation. Sadly, we continue to struggle at the University of Michigan. In 1972, courageous members of our community informed Michigamua and the University of Michigan about how their actions and inactions demean our personal dignity and undermine our culture through the perversion of our religious practices. Our concerns were reiterated in 1978 and again in 1986. In 1989, an agreement was signed between Michigamua, the University, and a Native American complainant, in which Michigamua promised “to eliminate all references to Native American culture and pseudo-culture and extensions and parodies thereof.” Realizing that the agreement had not been upheld, Native American concerns were reiterated in 1997. Our struggle continues today. … “
I’ve just posted a page of images related to Michigamua, which show that organization at the time of the 2000 occupation was in egregious violation of the terms of the 1989 agreement since the “Wigwam” was stuffed with objects and materials refering to Native American culture.
Thursday, April 8th, 2004
The secret senior honor society in the College of Engineering is called VULCAN, and celebrated their 100th anniversary this weekend. I have obtained a “booklet prepared in conjunction with the Vulcans 100th Anniversary Celebration, held on April 3, 2004 at the Michigan Union ballroom.” Here is their statement of purpose:
“VULCAN is a society consisting of juniors, seniors, and graduate students who have shown leadership and service to the College of Engineering and the University of Michigan. The purpose of the society is five-fold:
1. To promote comradeship among its members based on their mutual interests.
2. To develop cooperation between student organizations by promoting this friendship among their leaders.
3. To bestow private recognition upon those who are deserving by electing them to membership.
4. To provide service to the College of Engineering in situations where VULCANS has unique capabilities.
5. To maintain the decades of tradition on which our organization was founded.”
Included in the booklet is a listing of members. Unlike Michigamua, the organization seems to have kept less complete membership records. Here’s the caveat they print before the list, the “most extensive effort of this sort ever attempted.": “Every attempt has been made to make this list as accurate as possible. However, it is almost certain that mistakes have been made . … Any questions or corrections may be reported to v-alumni at umich.edu, or to Vulcan Alumni Association secretary, Tom Hemr.
Without further ado, ladies and gentleman I present to you VULCAN.
Winter 2004 “Vulcanus”
Bahareh Aslani - Hestia
Nia Harrison - Athena
Sean Holleran - Morpheus
Alan McGaughey - Anteros
Evita Nedelkoska - Aphrodite
Marvin Riley - Heracles
Kristi Schmidt - Iris
Jennifer Szymusiak - Hebe
Elliot Wells-Reid - Salinas
Heather White - Psyche
Hon: Frenchie Burroughs - Astarte
Fall 2003 “Troy”
Ronald Dreslinski - Apollo
Hannah Goldberg - Eos
Darby Grande - Psyche
Lauren Greiner - Hebe
Jason Hemak - Ares
Marco Krcatovich - Dionysus
Joseph Lamber - Hermes
Chitra Laxmanan - Cybele
Stephen Rumple - Heracles
Neil Shah - Aeolus
Cordelle Thomasma - Asklepios
Hon: Melissa Eljamal - Amphitrite
Winter 2003 “Thebes”
Brad Belsky - Aeolus
Matthew Cavanaugh - Dionysus
Eli Cooke - Pan
Kristie Devovich - Demerter
Marissa Ebersole - Cybele
Angela Lueking - Tethys
Vernon Newhouse - Hypnos
Meredith Palen - Astraea
Mashid Pirzadeh - Psyche
Steve Skripnik - Eros
Geoff Zmyslowski - Harpocrates
Fall 202 “Samos”
Kiran D’Souza - Harpocrates
Victor T. D’Souza - Poseidon
Jason Hand - Dionysus
Peter E. Haupt - Heracles
Eric Jankowski - Heliod
Michael Lepech - Asklepios
David Ostreicher - Pan
Eric M. Roeder - Aeolus
Jeremy Schneider - Apollo
Brandon Wright - Ares
Hon: Brian Gilchrist - Hermes
Winter 2002 “Rhodes”
Mark e. Christian - hypnos
Patrick J. Goleski - Heracles
Kim Lytle - Eos
Tracy L. Matson - Hestia
Brian J. Mount - Dionysus
Christopher K. Paulson - Aeolus
Janet M. Pien - Astraea
Avi Shertok - Helios
Melissa S. Wu - Artemis
Fall 2001 “Parnassus”
Kristin M. Derwich - Demeter
Mariesta L. Edje - Hestia
Jill M. Gorski - Hebe
Mike R. Lopex - Hermes
Elana M. Martin - Amphitrite
Ken R. Maschke - Dionysus
Brian D. Netter - Aeolus
Tershia Pinder - Athena
Kristina Schmitt - Cybele
Ted W. Way - Harpocrates
Hon: Kevin Collins Asklepios
Winter 2001 “Omphalos”
Michelle N. Butler - Hestia
Aimee E.Constantine - Hebe
Daniel B. Cook - Hypnos
Alessandra B. Ennett - Athena
Michael R. Farina - Salinas
Angela R. Fletcher - Aphrodite
Darren N. Goetz - Harpocrates (Selected, didn’t accept membership)
Arthur P. Hutchinson - Ares
Michael Muse - Anteros
Matthew E. Rudnick - Aeolus
Neha D. Shah - Artemis
Bruno P. Vanzieleghem - Heracles
William E. Wahl - Dionysus
Hon: Susan Ederer - Psyche
Other past classes will be forthcoming, and are avaliable from me upon request.
Explanation of names: “Shortly after the Winter 1995 initiation … The suggestion was made to select a Greek place name and assign it to each class.” Also, this year’s class and every 20 years hence will be called “Vulcanus,” a made-up name.
Wednesday, April 7th, 2004
From various sources. These people were selected for membership one year ago, I’m still working on compiling this year’s members. This list is incomplete - if you can help complete either year, please contact me.
The Michigamua “Pride” of 2004 (incomplete)
1. Nupur Kanodia - Dance Marathon External Director - kanodian
2. Bobby Nooromid - Tau Epsilon Phi / Hillel Governing Board Chair - nooromid
3. Nicholas Douville - ndouvill
4. Brandon Roberts - Baseball - bradrobe
5. Jon Monger - College Democrats, Hillel - jmonger
6. Brian Rhodes - National Society of Black Engineers - brhodesz
7. Ronald Lavelle Crawford- Basketball - rlcrawfo
8. John Navarre - football - jnavarre
9. Grant Weber - Dance Marathon - weberg
10. Steve Skripnik - University Activities Center President - sskripni
11. Jillian Centanni - Society of Women Engineers - jcentann
Tuesday, April 6th, 2004
Looking for a snazzy t-shirt, hoodie, pencil, or tote bag? Yes, look no farther than your local Trotskyist-dominated, dogmatic affirmative action group BAM-N, who is selling all of these and more online on their website.
Repeat after me: You can support affirmative action and not support BAM-N. In fact, virtually all do!
(Thanks to David Boyle for the sharp eye)
Thursday, April 1st, 2004
I’ve been contacted by a member of the Phoenix honor society, who says the group “toured” the tower on Tuesday, and didn’t have a meeting there. I don’t think the distinction affects the argument I made when I reported on the visit: the tower is now closed to all students except for members of elite secretive organizations. This means the University is in violation of the recommendations of the Office Space Panel accepted by President Bollinger, unless the space is now available for tours by any student organization.
” … Let me first thank you for your reply. I sincerely appreciate you comments and concern. However, as a student here at the University, I have concerns of my own.
As a journalist, it is irresponsible of you to post inaccurate or misleading information. If you don’t know what you’re talking about you should either say so or not say anything at all. You claim on your website that Phoenix held a meeting in the tower last night. That is simply not true. We do not and have not had access to the tower outside of last night. Our group TOURED the tower with escorts who are unaffiliated with Phoenix. I’m not going to go into the logistics that made the tour possible, but I will say that the option is available, with enough persistence, to all who have a legitimate reason to do so.
Secondly, the purpose of anonymity is to maintain the humble nature of the organization and its members. We are not to be going around, bragging about our membership. It is people like you who manipulate it into anything else. Regarding Michigamua, I am in complete alliance with NASA, but Michigamua is irrelevant in relation to Phoenix today.
With your website, you have the power to do much good by educating fellow students about things that other media outlets may not address. I commend you for your courage to do so. However, along with that power comes a responsibility for accuracy and integrity. I feel that you have compromised both in much of what you wrote regarding Phoenix. I hope that you make an effort to convey the truth, and if you don’t know what that may be, honesty is
the best policy: say so.”
Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
What began as a leaked tidbit of information about the meeting time of Michigamua, Michigan’s most controversial secret honor society, ended yesterday night with nearly a dozen student activists confronting Michigamua members about their organization’s extensive history of abusing Native American culture.
Using cellular phones and a tip that Michigamua members would be meeting in the Law Quad at 7:00 PM, members of the Native American Student Association and their allies embarked on what devolved for some into a wild-goose chase through the evening’s cold drizzle.
After seeing that 7pm meeting had in fact occurred, NASA members quickly alerted friends that Michigamua was on campus, apparently conducting activities as part of their initiation week for new members. An open discussion began between when NASA members encountered Michigamua inductees congregating at the Tappan Oak, a large oak tree located between Haven Hall and the Graduate library which has historically served as a meeting point for this campus “leadership” organization.
Confused Michigamua members stood awkwardly nearby before conferring on cellular phones and apparently agreeing to meet elsewhere. Of the roughly dozen student activists present, some were surprised to discover friends and acquaintances among the group’s new members.
Meanwhile, another “secret” campus organization had activities planned for the evening, although they might prefer to be called “anonymous.” First, some history - rewind to 2000, shortly after the 37-day sit-in which evicted Michigamua from their Michigan Union headquarters, and revealed they had been flagrantly disobeying a 1989 agreement about use of Native American references and artifacts.
Phoenix Members Visit Allegedly Closed Tower
“Consistent with the principles of fairness and access expressed in the panel s recommendations,” [Former University President Lee C.] Bollinger said in a letter to students in the affected organization, “I have decided that it is not appropriate to continue any special tenancy in the [Michigan Union] tower space for Michigamua, Phoenix and Vulcan.” …
Bollinger said the tower space is in need of renovation to conform to safety standards and regulations regarding access for the disabled. A decision about what to do with the space will be made after considering the cost of these renovations and other issues. … “ (Record: “Three student groups to be relocated”)
It was on these terms that President Bolliger evicted the “Tower Societies” from their tower, although not heisitating to provide official University office space for two years, but saying that “If they choose to apply for office and meeting space after this transitional period, they will do so as part of the general process of student space allocation.” Bollinger had acceped the reccomendations of a panel which was charged with a thorough review of allocation of office space to student groups, and who had decided every organization must apply for space every two years.
Members of the Student of Color Coalition, who had occupied the Michigan Union tower for over 30 days cried foul, alleging the allocation of office space was periphial of the central issue: the University administration’s long and deep involvement with an elitist organization founded on an ideology fundamentally offensive to minority culture students. However, it appeared that whatever the justification given, the tower space would at least be made inaccessable to all organizations equally.
Tonight, however, that decision of Lee Bollinger was apparently overturned or broken as the current inductees to the Phoenix honor society held a meeting in the space of their former headquarters in the Michigan Union.
Three independent sources have confirmed new members were told they would visit the tower, and an eyewitness even spotted new Phoenix members, whose names were recently published on this website, entering the elevators in the lobby of the Michigan Union to travel to the 4th floor, where they would climb the stairs to the tower.
The timing of this stunning hypocricy on the part of University administrators couldn’t be more opportune for the opponents of recent budget cuts at a variety of student services offices. In 2000, after the conclusion of the tower occupation, the University fired an employee of the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs named Shannon Martin, allegedly for “embezzlement,” although student activists suspected it was because she was openly sympathetic and supportive of the Students of Color Coalition. At the time, the recently appointed Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper personally testified in the jury trial of Ms. Martin, although the jury would aquit Martin of all charges. (See a 10/01 letter to the Daily about Martin)
Since 2000, rumours that Royster Harper had close ties with the campus’s secret honor societies have persisted. In recent weeks, student activists drawing from a wide variety of campus communities have rallied behind an effort to reverse deep cuts in already tiny support offices, identifiying Vice President Harper as the one ultimately responsible for their plight. The group’s signature yellow t-shirts read, “Royster Cut Student Services … and all I got was this Lousy T-Shirt.”
This monday, Royster Harper participated in an unproductive negotiating session between these student leaders and University administrators.
Yesterday, Royster either failed to fulfil her charge to impliment the office space allocation policy decided on by President Bollinger and the panel he had appointed, or she decided to disobey its directive completely.
It is fully within the University’s power to seal the Tower from all student organizations. If that is what they intend to do, they should do it. However, if Phoenix is allowed to hold meetings in the tower, every student organization must also be afforded the privlidge. To do otherwise would be to revert to their policies before 2000, where select elite campus organizations can on occassion don headdresses, smoke a “peace pipe,” in their “wigwam,” decorated with birchbark and a moose’s head high atop the Michigan Union.
Last time I checked such racist and sophmoric antics have thoroughly passed out of vogue. Also, NASA has recently learned Michigamua membership is included on official university transcripts - a practice which should be abolished. The University should sever any remaining ties with the organization, including requiring its employees to renounce their membership as a condition of employment, and convert the tower into some purpose open to all students.
> My Michigamua / Phoenix Page
> Detroit News: “Protesters call secret group’s rituals offensive”
> U Toronto Student Paper: “Secret society conquered in Ann Arbor”
> Daily: “Michigan minority student group to end 37-day occupation of student union”
> Statement from the Native American Community, February 2000
> Michigan Today: “Michigamua Protest Ends”
Tuesday, March 30th, 2004
Here’s some information I was able to get about Phoenix, one of the other “Tower Societies” that used to be all female until both it and Michigamua went co-ed in the 1990s. I’ve heard “4 to 5″ people turned down “taps” for the 2005 class, and their names are not included here. This list might not reflect members who decided to quit the organization, as occasionally happens. Also, to my knowledge, Phoenix does not bastardize Native American culture as Michigamua has. The Phoenix classes of 2001 through 2003 are listed at the bottom of my Michigamua page. If you have any reason to believe this information is inaccurate, please send me an email or leave an anonymous comment, and I will be sure to investigate and make corrections, in necessary. I’m still working on Michigamua for last year and this year, and I would also be interested in information about Vulcan.
Phoenix Class of 2004
Touseef Akram Bhatti Multicultural Greek Council, Alpha Iota Omicron
Mara Cazers Garden Club
Scott Davison Football Equipment Manager
Jake Fox Baseball
Jenny Gerteisen Circle K, Girls on the Run
Tom Gritter Men’s Soccer
Ameil Herrera MSA, Sigma Nu, Phi Sigma Pi
Mark Hodges Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi
Matt Kochanek Dance Marathon, Circle K, Mortar Board
Courtney Lewis Daily (sports staff)
Adam Maczik Marching Band, Fencing Club
Erica Margolius Michiganensian, K-Grams Bookmark
Matt McKee Marching Band, Golden Key
Jen Miller Outdoor Adventures, SGA
Deepa Patel Circle K, SAVE, Mortar Board
Christin Plunkett Women’s Crew, Campus Crusade
Jenny Putvin Michiganensian
Bharat Sharma Alpha Iota Omicron
Megan Wilbur Dance Marathon, College Democrats
Kate Woolley APO, M-Flicks, Detroit Project
Malinda Matney (Honorary/Faculty Member)
Phoenix Class of 2005
Matt Burrows (Faculty/Alum)
Colin Daly (Daily cartoonist)
Tony Ding (Daily Photographer)
Andrew D. Berenzweig
Andrew R. Potts
Bobby L. Scales II
Christopher W. Bunt
Cory J. Fryling
Delano M. White
Don M. Chamberlin IV
Dwane Q. Fuqua
Erik W. Ranka
Evan M. Meyers
Frank J. Lodeserto
Gerald B. Olivari
Gregory R. Daddario
Jonathan W. Jansen
Joseph C. Taylor
Manuel F. Munguia
Michael C. Fair
Pinkey L. Oliver
Rahul M. Shah
Robert D. Hayes
Ryan D. Freidrichs
Spencer F. Preis
Thomas A. Malchow
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004
Daily columnist Jess Piskor read my mind with his column in today’s paper, titled “From LBJ’s Great Society to David E.’s Range Rover”:
“Speaking in front of 80,000 people in Michigan Stadium, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the graduating class of 1964. Calling on all citizens to work for a better future, Johnson used the University s commencement ceremonies not just to glorify grads, but to first reveal his greatest political aspiration. Addressing graduates directly, Johnson said, Your imagination, your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.
Johnson is but one of the many illustrious graduation speakers the University has attracted. In 1986, United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar spoke on the threats facing the world, including poverty and the Cold War. Another U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke in 1999, when he urged students to embrace universal human values and also defended the ongoing peacekeeping mission in Yugoslavia.
Often it is not the speakers themselves, but the honorary degree recipients that attract the most attention. Largely due to student demand, Nelson Mandela received an honorary degree in 1987 a degree he could not receive in person because he was in jail in South Africa.
Governors also make the rounds through campus both Gov. James Blanchard in 1985 and Gov. Jennifer Granholm last year were featured speakers. Granholm attracted ire when she honestly suggested that some University graduates were destined to become losers and that they had wasted their degrees.
Of course not all graduation speakers preach words of importance with lasting significance. Even the worthiest of speakers can slip up: In 1993, First Lady Hillary Clinton said, And I really believe, standing here in this great university, that the Fabulous Five are excellent and Chris Webber deserves the kind of thanks that we can give him for going on and going forward.
With this history of notable speakers in mind, I have waited in eager anticipation for the announcement of the graduation speaker for my commencement this spring. Maybe we would get a crazy lefty who would blast President Bush and incite us to greater activism. Maybe we would draw a political leader the likes of Dick Cheney toward whom I could hurl invectives. Maybe we would attract a noted philosopher or person of letters like 2001 s speaker, poet laureate Robert Pinsky who would provide perspective on life and teach us to value the arts. Would it be too much to hope for Jon Stewart?
Instead, we have to settle for the founder of Automobile Magazine, David E. Davis Jr. While he may lay claim to the title of foremost automobile critic, his magazine is so influential that the University Library one of the largest in academia does not have even have one issue anywhere. His book, modestly titled, Thus spake David E.: the collected wit and wisdom of the most influential automobile journalist of our time is also absent from our library. Influential indeed.
I m sure this David E. (as he is known) is a bright guy. He did after all found a magazine with some startup capital from Rupert Murdoch. And while he says that I will never have given a speech to as many people or as big of a place in my whole life, and I feel an awful burden of responsibility in the nature of this assignment, I ll trust that his speaking ability is up to the task.
While I d like to think the University can attract better, more famous speakers, the fact that David E. is an unknown should not disqualify him. What upsets me is that I do not think that someone who has devoted his life to the material lust for an inanimate object is particularly qualified to address me on important matters. When he says in his columns that his love for cars is unconditional I am not reassured that he can put perspective on our graduation.
Contrast David E. who fell in love with (his) new 2003 Range Rover which is Epsom green with sand leather and burled walnut trim with another rather unknown speaker.
Addressing the class of 1965, New York Times Associate Editor James Reston said, The happiest men and women I know are not those who are providing the material things that clutter up our lives and dull our minds, or even those who escape from the struggle, but those who are engaged in the tasks that nourish and elevate the human mind.
Thursday, March 18th, 2004
“Right now we’re in the midst of a crisis.”
The demonstration at today’s regent’s meeting was an outstanding success. I’ve posted a few photos here if you missed it. I’ll also be blogging more about the meeting later tonight. After a number of impressive student speakers, Regents Olivia Maynard, Larry Deitch, and Andrea Fisher Newman spoke thanking the students for their input and saying that although the budget situation is difficult, they were sympathetic to the issues raised. Noticably absent was Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper, whose leadership and decisions were the subject of much of the criticism.
Regent Olivia P. Maynard: ” I have heard the pain. … I just want to say that we want to say we are listening.”
Regent Laurence B. Deitch: “The student speakers were an extraordinary group of people. .. Thank you for coming. I believe if we can work together we can create ways to do it - as Mia White said, we need to put our money where our mouth is.”
Alexandria Cadotte: “What I am saying today is out of the simple desire for all of us to move on … into the future. [Michigamua] appropriated and abused native culture in too many ways to go into today. Members of the administration have beeen members and advisors to Michigamua, and I believe many still are … The University’s unwillingness to take a stance on this issue harms their reputation among native and non-native students alike.”
Stephanie Chang, speaking on the need for recording hate crimes: “It is my hope that today will be a step towards a real student voice, and what the campus climate should look like.”
Erik Glenn, speaking on cuts in the LGBTA office: “I came to the U of M believing I was coming to a place where I would be safe to live comfortable, and free of verbal and physical assault. … Support the office that supports us. … I cannot and will not negotiate this need.”
Kathryn Turnock, on SAPAC cuts: “The only clear message was that we should trust [administrators] know best. …”
Mia White, on SAPAC cuts and other issues: “[cutting student services] is an insult to the spirit in which they were created. … The University is willing to talk about diversity and not act. What we want you to do is simple - keep your promises, and follow through. … Hiding behind the budget is not enough.”
SAPAC DE-FUNDED * RESIDENCE HALL LIBRARIES CLOSED * STUDENT WOODSHOP CLOSED * MINORITY ENROLLMENT DROPPING * TROTTER HOUSE DETERIORATING * POWWOW FUNDING CUT * LGBT EDUCATION COORDINATOR FIRED * ETC * ETC*
Yes, the University of Michigan is facing a cut in funding from the State of Michigan. However the cut, although severe, will only impact their state allocation, which makes up less than 20% of the University’s total budget. In a greater sense, the University continues unaffected by the economic slowdown of the Bush years. Construction projects across campus are moving ahead, the new Haven hall has been equipped with flat screen TV’s, and nearly 50 University employees are making over $250,000 per year. Meanwhile, Michigan state legislators have taken a voluntary 3% pay cut, and Governor Granholm herself has taken a voluntary 10% pay cut. Meanwhile, President Mary Sue Coleman receives roughly $575,000 each year (when her base salary of $475,000 is added to the $500,000 cash bonus she’ll receive if she stays for five years.) If the 47 highest paid employees at the University took a 3% pay cut, the University would raise $440,266 - more than enough to address most of the issues raised as part of the “Student Agenda.” During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the University used across-the-board pay cuts to balance the books.
Many of the cuts above are matters of tens of thousands of dollars - mere pennies for the University as a whole. The Woodshop? Less than $50,000. PowWow funding? Cut by perhaps ten thousand. SAPAC cuts? A few positions and the office space. However, these cuts will directly impact student life - and many will make changes that will be difficult to undo if more funding becomes avaliable in the future. Students will have fewer resources at our disposal, and the University’s commitment to multiculturalism seems to be seriously drawn into question.
It’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of priorities.
Let’s tell the administration: it’s time for you to share the burden. The time is now: the University Regents are meeting, and they must hear what we think of the University’s decisions:
Sign making, and T-shirts 1 PM on the DIAG
1:30 PM: GET PUMPED UP
2 PM: REGENTS MEETING (SHOW UP AND BE COUNTED!)
Read more about the issues here.
Sunday, March 14th, 2004
The Detroit News published an editorial last Friday alleging the University of Michigan isn’t doing enough to protect the rights of the people trying to get petition signatures to add to the state’s constitution an amendment which would end all government affirmative action programs in the state. BAM-N has launched something they’re calling “Operation King’s Dream” whose suggestions seem to test political tactics one can legitimately equate with the Civil Rights Movement, including things like “Shadowing the signature gatherers for the racist campaign. Using our First Amendment right to vociferously dissuade people considering signing on to this racist, sexist attack.” Anyone vaguely familiar with first amendment law will know there are a number of legal limitations including the right of public facilities and institutions to make time, space, and manner restrictions on speech. Here’s some from the Detroit News editorial:
“… We agree with BAMN and other opponents of the anti-affirmative action drive that the initiative is both divisive and offensive, and a setback in the state’s efforts to achieve racial equality.
Still, we respect the rights of those who are of the opposite opinion. They have a right to mount their petition drive.
MSU understands that and took swift action when BAMN invaded the Michigan State University student union, where Barbara Grutter, who sued the U-M law school for rejecting her application, was speaking. Campus police hauled the thugs away.
But U-M has done little or nothing to protect the rights of students who are working on behalf of the petition drive. Jeston La Croix, a U-M student assisting the initiative, says the group has made it virtually impossible to operate on campus, blocking access to petition tables and harassing those who stop by for information.
So far, campus police at U-M have not intervened. U-M spokesperson Julie Peterson says the university tries to manage these situations without trampling on the rights of protesters.
Everyone has rights, including the petition signature gatherers. They should be allowed to proceed with their misguided effort free from harassment and intimidation. The university has an obligation to protect the civil liberties of all students, not just the ones it agrees with. “
You might remember Jeston La Croix from last spring, when he angrly demanded the student busses to Washington D.C. funded by MSA for the rally in support of Affirmative Action during spring term be “viewpoint neutral.” I would say younger people should keep their eyes on this young conservative activist, whom seems to be sliding into the angry-college-conservative role. The whole thing to me seems like an innocent organizing mistake, blown way out of proportion by the ability of angry white men to demand the administration meet with them. Here’s a Michigan Review editorial from April 3, 2003 about last year’s snafu, titled “MSA: Majorly Sketchy Allocation":
“AFTER SITTING LESS than two weeks as a new assembly, MSA has made its first highly questionable funding allocation. After being threatened with a lawsuit by a University student at last week’s “in and out” meeting, MSA has crafted what can be construed by some as a money-laundering scheme at worst, and a waste of University dollars in times of budget crisis at best. This fiasco surrounds the 2002-2003 Assembly’s funding of buses to travel to last Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing of the lawsuits against the University’s race-based affirmative action admissions policies. Originally, $12,000 was allocated to fund four buses in conjunction with other buses being paid for by Students Supporting Affirmative Action.
The MSA buses were supposed to be issue-neutral according to the resolution passed by all but one of the representatives. Students Supporting Affi rmative Action (SSAA) was only involved because the group had reserved the buses in advance, guaranteeing a lower rate than if MSA were to secure its own buses. Thus, whether a student supported or opposed the University’s admissions policies, he or she was could travel to Washington, D.C. to witness a historic time in University history.
The problems with the buses began last week when two poorly thought-out communications from the assembly revealed a severe bias in the bus organization. First, when anyone sent an email requesting a seat on the MSA buses, they were sent
a confi rmation email reading “Dear student supporting affi rmative action” from MSA Communications Chair and SSAA leader Pete Woiwode. By not separating the bus confirmations into SSAA and MSA seats, Woiwode alienated many conservatives from riding these buses, as they either thought they had signed up for buses that were not issue-neutral or were deterred by the fact that they would be in the midst of an SSAA rally for the entire 10-hour trip. In addition to confirmation email, the composition of the email list that the buses were publicized to was also extremely biased. Groups organized in support of race based affirmative action like BAMN, SOLE and College Democrats were included on the list, while student groups opposing the University’s position on the issue like College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom were not included. In fact, the only non-left-leaning email list that received the email was msa.info at umich.edu.
This action, again by Woiwode, pushed LSA Freshman Jeston La Croix over the edge. La Croix threatened MSA at their Tuesday meeting and called a meeting with University Vice President E. Royster Harper and Dean of Students Ed Willis. Also at the meeting were new MSA President Angela Galardi (Students First-Engin.), MSA Representative Paul Scott (University Party-LSA), and former Peace and Justice Committee Chair Jackie Bray.
The University recognized La Croix’s concern as valid and requested that MSA allocate funds for additional buses to rectify the problem. Galardi agreed and said that MSA could cut into funds currently allocated to Budget Priorities Committee (BPC)
to pay the extra buses. Scott responded by saying that MSA had spent enough student dollars on this event, and opposed cutting into student group funding to “cover the butts” of SSAA leaders like Woiwode and Bray who had not recognized their own confl icts of interest in organizing the buses. Upon hearing this from Scott, Vice President Harper suggested that the University could reimburse MSA out of her “slush fund” to cover the $8000 BPC shortfall that will cover the buses.
All parties seemed to agree on this resolution of La Croix’s complaint, and after a two and a half hour emergency MSA meeting, the deal was done. While La Croix may be happy with the result, this action by the University and MSA draws a number of questions.
First, the University cannot legally pay for buses sent to lobby for a court decision in a case that it sits in as a defendant. Thus, by MSA paying for the buses, and the University paying for student group funding, a soft-core money-laundering scheme is essentially at work. Secondly, this last ditch effort, being carried forward by a campus-wide email, to allow students a chance to get to Washington will not allow enough time for students who had given up on the trip, now tied up in class commitments, to drop everything and jump on a bus.
Finally, the University faces times of budget crisis, as the state of Michigan will cut $36 million, and while $8000 is a drop in the larger bucket, it is the one-year tuition of an in-state student. “Slush funds” available to the Vice President should be going to maintain quality class size and selection that were threatened by Provost Paul Courant last week. La Croix should be commended for exposing a corrupt allocation on the part of MSA, but the University and the Assembly should hold their ground and look at the bigger picture a bit more when correcting measures, to avoid shady, back-door dealing like the new allocation.MR” (See this editorial on the Review’s site)
Wednesday, March 10th, 2004
The Tappan Oak, a large oak tree located between Haven Hall and the Graduate Library and traditional location of the annual Michigamua induction ritual has been vandalized, apparently as a protest to that organization’s continued presence on campus. According to the Ann Arbor News, some suspects have been interviewed, but no charges have been filed. Until a few years ago, the oak was marked with a plaque with the Michigamua name, not unlike the small “Vulcan” plaque near the engineering arch. The marker was removed after student protest, although a small plaque near the side door of the Union identifies that area and its small fountain as “Michigamua Plaza.”
” Tappan Oak Tree on Diag vandalized
University of Michigan police questioned five people early today after they were seen painting the Tappan Oak Tree on the Diag, officials said.
Officers responded to the Diag about 12:30 a.m. and found the base of the tree painted black, said Lt. Robert Neumann. The five people were found nearby and questioned but not arrested. The incident remains under investigation.
Officers determined the vandals used non-water-soluble paint and referred the matter to the U-M Grounds Department for cleanup. No damage estimates were available this morning, Neumann said.
The Tappan Oak tree is a prominent fixture in the Diag located between Tappan and Mason halls.
From News staff reports” (Source)
Thursday, March 4th, 2004
Here’s some anonymous historical commentary on Michigamua I received:
“Now a few years removed from Ann Arbor and from the 2000 Michigamua tower occupation, I look back and have to laugh at the state of Michigamua. Sure, the multi-week occupation gave the organization and the University a black eye, but even more so, exposed what a sorry state the student elite of the University community was and, I’m afraid still is. And I’m sure that the community of the student elite will continue to languish, whither and perhaps die on the Michigamua vine.
I don’t claim to be a Michigamua historian, but I have a unique perspective on the whole matter. I first saw the inside of the Michigamua tower way back around 1993 or ‘94, when I was a freshmen in high school oddly enough. I was given a tour by a Michigamua member who was dating my sister, who in her words “was trying to impress” us by having keys to the tower. While he was giving us a tour, I remember that he said something to the effect of: “Yeah, ‘Gama used to do stuff. All we do are service projects now. I guess that’s cool.” Deep thoughts, aint it?
I of course was too young to really understand the symbolism of the artifacts in the tower space. I guess I thought it was cool to be part of a secret society. You at least got a cool view of State Street.
Later on, my sister told me about witnessing a Michigamua initiation ceremony/banquet at some decrepit suburban hotel, where there were all sorts of cheesy initiation phrases, ridiculous nicknames, etc. “Onward Lone Wolf! Welcome to the brotherhood.” or something ridiculous like that. But the food was horrid. My sister said that for an elite society, they could have at least had some decent food. It was a let down I guess. For the student elite, hand-picked from the leading Greek organizations, student groups, etc., it was telltale sign that the organization wasn’t all that elite.
If I remember correctly, it was a long standing tradition for Michigama to tap the top editors at the Daily. But then sometime in the late 1990s, even the Daily started to wisen up. While I’m not sure of the whole story, a top Daily sports editor (who now works for a top metropolitan daily) had to resign over something Gama related. The top management at the Daily realized the being part of Gama was a major conflict of interest and it became unofficial policy at the management desk that if you were at the Daily, the tower was off limits. (In the wake of the tower occupation, the Daily editors fired a reporter for dating a high-profile Michigamua member.) As it was told to me by an editor at the time, Michigamua was becoming a pathetic organization, that didn’t do anything, and had a more-than-suspicious past. It was a recipe for public relations disaster: Do-nothing student leaders dressing up in headdresses (or what ever they did in the tower) getting drunk and calling eachother insensitive or stupid nicknames. Fortunately for the Daily, the editors abandoned the organization before the fallout. Some Michigan Student Assembly executives, of course didn’t, only to meet the wrath of an incensed student body at public meetings. They found out the hard way that getting yelled at by a more-than-normally-agitated Jessica Curtin was a bad thing.
So when lists of Michigamua members were released and more details about the organization became known, the true picture of the University’s secret student elite came into focus. So how do you put together a Michigamua class, or for Phoenix for that matter? First, find student leaders from warm and cuddly community service projects (Detroit Project, K Grams, etc.). Second, add some well-rounded athletes, preferably from some second- and third-tier sports. Third, find your racial and religious diversity. Fourth: How about some MSA people? They’re always upstanding and fun to be around. Fifth, mix any random stragglers that somehow got accepted to Eunice Royster Harper’s LeaderShape program. But wait, we’re an elite organization, we need some exclusivity! How ’bout the Greek system? They seem to know a bit about initiations and social exclusionary tactics. Let’s get some one from the Pan-Hellenic board. Bam, we have the University’s student elite! Boy, that was easy.
So what does a secret society do besides sit in a room being secret and exclusive? They already represent a wide variety of student activities, so they can’t duplicate their campus efforts through their coordinating “pow wows.” So they do something that cuts across campus. What about a huge community service project that raises money for a good cause? Sounds great. Some other universities are doing Dance Marathon, why isn’t U-M? That sounds like a great idea! Bam! Now they’re raising a lot of money for childhood cancer.
I’m sorry if I sound like I’m disparaging community service projects. That is not my intent. They are worthwhile. But for a legendary organization that got Crisler Arena and the Union built, a simple fundraising event seems to demean the existence of an organization that has done quite a bit for the University historically … sans its insensitivities of its name, customs, etc.
When I look at the lists of people who are/have been in the secret societies the past few years, I snarl at their fusion in an exclusive society. I know a lot of them, and they are good people. They mean well, but many are just a bit too vaccuous to avoid tripping over their good intentions to actaully live up to Michigamua’s goal of building a better University. There are greater issues facing the student community that the exclusive coalition of student leaders could be working on. We can only hope that they can build greater than they are. In the meantime, hundreds of other student leaders who aren’t in the special club are pushing to make their corner of campus better for everyone else. Imagine if Michigamua could actually secretly coordinate everyone’s efforts for the greater good (Of course, putting its troublesome past in a dusty closet in the annals of University history would be a good first step …I’m afraid changing the name to “Michigamua: New Traditions for a New Millenium” isn’t going to cut it.)
(In a semi-related note, when Bush and Kerry debate later this year, if a journalist asks a question about Skull and Bones and one of them begins to answer, they both have to walk off stage, according to tradition, orso I’ve heard. Now there’s a secret society. Barb the Younger didn’t get in though.)”
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004
Yes, it’s Michigamua tapping season:
“Date: Wed, 3 Mar 2004 03:26:40 -0500
From: Nickole Fox foxn at umich.edu
Subject: say NO to Michigamua’s tap
After creating beautiful powwow diag boards until 2am tonight, a group of dedicated NASA members were about to venture home. However, we were caught off guard by a suspicious group of students gathering near the fountain in Michigamua Plaza (outside the union), appearing to hide something. These students muttered “its NASA” and “ooo…the Chief.” While we are not certain of their affiliations on campus, it was clear they didn t want to be around us and it reminded me of what time of year it is: Michigamua recruiting time.
If you do not know, Michigamua has a long history of degrading Native American Culture. They would wear loin clothes, paint themselves red and give each other suto-indian names and use language of a broken English sort, like “me like um squaw.” They have been pictured in the yearbook smoking a pipe, with beers in hand, on the presidents lawn. While these examples are wrong on many levels, I encourage each person who receives this email to educate yourself about this organization. I know it can be hard to understand some issues concerning Native people, so to help you understand…if there is anything that confuses you, think about the action if it was against another group of people. Think about blackface, think about the KKK…
What I am asking of you is to
1) if you are a junior, and they want you to join, say no, no matter how much the connections will benefit you. If you are interested in the community service aspect of the org, join another group that does community service, there are a ton of them, and if you need help finding one, I will gladly help.
2) If you are a current member: get out. its not worth it. the group may or may not have changed their practices (they said they would change in the 70’s, again in writing in 89 and didnt!) but the history they carry in the name is not worth your time. Imagine if the KKK decided one day to not be a racist organization any longer….would KKK still mean the same thing to the people it hurt? yes. Would you then join the KKK? Please know the history and know that you are a part of an organization that was founded on hatred, do you really want to be associated with that?
3) if you are alum of gamua: see #2
4) if you don t fit any of the above, educate yourself, and everyone you know.
Here are some links:
Sorry if you receive this email multiple times. I just think this is something
everyone needs to know about, especially University students, alumni, faculty,
Hoping for social justice,
University of Michigan
Co-chair-Native American Student Association
Sociology & Native Studies B.A. student
Monday, March 1st, 2004
At the University of Michigan, an unpopular and sectarian political organization that has co-opted affirmative action activism almost entirely, apparently will the full knowledge and tacit cooperation of the administration. The campus, like the main character in Memento, seems to suffer from a profound amnesia - stubbornly unable to hold any idea in its collective memory for more than a few semesters. Constantly, I see in the newspaper upperclassmen who complain of the latest stunt of BAM-N, saying they were in support of affirmative action until the latest incident. (Most recently February 17) These people are apparently ignorant as to how our local campus politics are connected to a larger political picture and unable to concieve of a position in support of affirmative action outside the limited rhetoric of BAM-N.
This unfortunate reality leads to two questions in my mind: first, has the intellectual and political culture of campus been any different? Can we reasonably expect a constantly changing group of 18 to 22 year olds, most of whom will spend around four years as students, to maintain a somewhat sophisticated political discourse? No matter the answer to that question, it leads me to a second question: can it be any different? The cynic in me might have said no, but I think the efforts of myself and others have been at least somewhat successful. However, is this simply an anomaly? Is the inevitable state of affairs one where Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, and George Washington mascaraed as the legitimate spokespeople for much more than their true narrow interests as members of the Revolutionary Workers League? Can a more sophisticated political discussion on campus and in our nation take place or will our generation be doomed to McPolitics where New Democratic Liberals sit politely on panels where anachronistic elements of America’s fringe left pretend to speak for students?
Also: some of the signers of the petition I started have interesting things to say. While I certainly don’t agree with some of them, it’s worth your time.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2004
Detroit’s Metrotimes has picked up a BAM-N press release in an entry in their news hits section reporting that a Michigan-based KKK organization has “Endorsed” the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, or the proposal connected to University of California Regent Ward Connerly that would ban all forms of public affirmative action in the state. The MCRI has been opposed by a broad coalition of organizations and businesses in the state including both the Democratic and Republican parties, and the lead organization opposing it is called Citizens for a United Michigan.
Other articles of note:
Tuesday, January 27th, 2004
A former member of the ostensibly pro-affirmative action group BAM-N has contacted me, the third or forth to do so since I launched noBAMN.com. This has reminded me exactly how important it is to reiterate the nature of this divisive organization. First, I should explain that I became interested in BAM-N because I support affirmative action and was frustrated by this organization: not only did they publicize a narrowly conceived message, they do not work with the vast majority of student organizations on campus, and in student government use unnecessary and hostile tactics to generate conflict at virtually every opportunity. (Since then the influence of BAM-N and their political wing DAAP has shrunk significantly after the concerted effort of a number of concerned students.) It should be noted that in response to the U-M admissions lawsuits reaching the Supreme Court last year, I was lucky enough to be involved in an amazing multiethnic coalition of students called Students Supporting Affirmative Action who came together to bring students to Washington, D.C., conduct education work on campus, and also coordinate the student response when the decision was announced. A quick investigation revealed the reason why the organization was so undemocratic and dogmatic was because it was run by a small cadre of militant Trotskyists. (Meaning followers of the Russian socialist Leon Trotsky, as opposed to Marxists, Stalinists, or Maoists, among others.)
Ok, I’ll rewind a bit. Contrary to popular belief, there actually is a left wing politics in America. This handy chart will help you navigate the myriad of organizations populating the fringes of the political spectrum. Basically, what’s important to note is that ever since the Russian revolution in 1917, many leftist organizations have splintered again and again, the Revolutionary Workers League (the people behind BAM-N) believe there will come a mass militant revolution at some point in the future, and they are working towards this outcome through various and sundry issues. Sound like they don’t quite get it? You’re exactly right: these people not only have (in my view) warped political views, but their organizations often more closely resemble religious cults than democratic organizations. From this point of view, here’s an interesting description of them I found on the web:
“Revolutionary Workers League: Formed in 1976 as a split from the Spartacist League, the RWL is a dogmatic and intensely militant Trotskyist group based in Detroit. Little is seen of them outside of Michigan and California state, and (like the Spartacist League) they demand the devotion of all their members. They have set up a network of puppet organizations: the National Women’s Rights Organizing Committee (NWROC, founded 1980’s), the Committee to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN, founded 1995), and others. These front groups are where the RWL’s primary activism takes place. They often practice entryism entering larger organizations and trying to bend them toward their own ideology. The most recent case of this occurred in Oakland, California (far from their home base), where BAMN supporters tried to take over the local teachers’ union, the OEA. A group that split with the RWL during the Gulf War, the Trotskyist League, would break from the RWL’s traditional entryism and work with Solidarity and other groups, though maintaining their ultra-left stance. No matter what group they enter, RWL will never win many converts to their extreme tactics.”
And so, what does this have to do with BAM-N, you ask? First, all the key organizers are members of this odd Detroit-based political organization. Their names might seem familiar: Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, Miranda Massie, George Washington, Lee Felarca, Shanta Driver, etc. None of these people are now or have ever been U-M students, and none (to my knowledge) live in Ann Arbor. Yes, the truth is stranger than fiction - you’ll see them quoted representing various causes, but they all make the work of the RWL their primary activity. On campus, these people hold meetings attended by students and sometimes even recruit student members, but the decisions are always being made by Luke Massie, Caroline Wong, and the leadership of BAM-N. This is why BAMN@umich.edu goes to more non-student email addresses than student email addresses.
Finally, the person who wrote to me is a former member and former student. This is what they write:
“I was a member of BAMN. They did teach me a lot about affirmative action. However, I became weary of their refusal to join with any student run organizations, their refusal to compromise, and the general feeling that BAMN was really nothing more than an RWL recruiting organization. Affirmative action wasn’t the real concern…a future revolution was. I felt I was being used to promote their cause, not the cause I signed on to. And because I believe in social democracy, I was limited in my role within the organization. They kept me on because I was good spin.”
The letter writer continues:
“The reason BAMN member’s speeches all sound the same is that the speaker is hand selected by Luke, Caroline, and the RWL Also, the topics of the speakers are selected by Luke, Caroline and the RWL. Finally, the speeches are reviewed and changes are made by Luke, Caroline, and the RWL.
2. Members are encouraged to “vote” on issues but dissention is frowned upon. The dissentor is then argued with until his mind can be changed (brainwashed/ forced.)
3. People are selected based on how marginalized they feel on campus (lesbians, single parents, students of color.) They are reeled into the cause (women’s issues, affirmative action, poverty…) and then if the member of whatever front organization he may have joined shows promise Caroline or other RWL members start holding “one on one sessions,” at which time said person is given communist lessons. Later the person is asked what he thinks of joining the RWL.
4. If the person declines the invitation to join the RWL, his role within the front organization falls dramatically. … “
Finally, why BAM-N? The Black Action Movement (BAM) was a series of protests and strikes organized by black students at the University of Michigan in 1970, 1975, and 1987 - and count among the most important and well organized student protests in recent U.S. History. The BAM strikes won a number of important concessions from the University administration, including multicultural lounges, the Center for African and African-American Studies (CAAS), affirmative action in admissions, and support for all types of students. What do they have to do with a small group of dogmatic Trotskyists from Detroit? Nothing - that’s why I type and say BAM-N (pronounced “BAM” and “N") - to indicate the difference between these organizations.
Also, there’s no connection between the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. You should go to the event Wednesday to learn more about them.
> See my post about RWL/BAM-N activities in London
Saturday, January 10th, 2004
“Fight Like Hell for Michigan and Michigamua!"*
“At the end of my junior year at Michigan I was inducted into Michigamua, the Senior honorary society. Part of the induction ceremony took place in the middle of the diag where the senior class performed the induction ceremony which included a certain amount of good nature “hazing” of the new inductees. At the conclusion of the cermonies in the middle of the diag, the new inductees were lead by rope, duck walking to the Michigan Union where we continued “duck walking” (squatting while walking) up the stairs to the Michigamua room. The memory of that walk (and the burning of the quads) will forever remain with me as an integral part of the Michigamua experience.
Peter M. Cornell, 1969″
On campus, who’s a member of Michigamua? I’m glad you asked - here’s the “Pride” of 2003. Email addresses are @umich.edu.
Eric Bukstein ebukstei
Sara Gall gallc
Janessa Grieco jgrieco
Steph Johnson sljz
Brian Netter bnetter
Monica Rose roseml
John Shouneyia houneyi
Pat Owen patowen
Tyler Atkins tatkins
Tom Church tchurch
Anita Gupta apgupta
Petra Juzwishin petramj
Rebecca Kramer rkramer
Jed Ortmeyer jortmeye
John Spytek jspytek
(* A Michigamua saying, used to sign correspondence)
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003
” … [Melissa Lopez] Pope said she and others have stepped forward over the years to protest the group s stereotypical use of drums, loincloths, headdresses and the taking on of “Indian names.”
Native American students and Michigamua members have gone to the negotiating table multiple times to discuss these improprieties, Pope said, but Michigamua violated agreements. While she said they no longer hold offensive initiation rituals on the Diag, issues such as the name of the group still remain.
“It got to a point where it was made very clear that what they would never give up was their name,” she said, referring to past conversations with members of Michigamua. Many Native Americans see the group s name as disrespectful and as just another “pseudo-relation” to the culture, Pope said.
She said she was committed to trying to change the environment for future Native American students, and to increasing the Native American presence on campus.
Discussion between audience members arose following her speech passionate words from students opposed to Michagamua as well as from three Michigamua members, who said they attended the event out of curiosity and interest.
Confronted with accusations about his group, LSA senior and Michigamua member Sean Carmody stood up in the back of the Angell Hall auditorium to voice his opinion.
“We’re here for one thing, to fight like hell for Michigan through Michigamua. It s about us working together through our organizations to improve this University to the best of our ability,” he said.
While Carmody recognized that there are some people who are still upset with past events, he said the organization looks to the future while remembering its history.
“I just want it to come across, the truth, that we re not a racist organization,” he said. “We don t want this stigma to be a part of our organization 20 years from now.”
Another Michigamua member, who would not give his name, told the crowd of more than 50 people that Michigamua practices have changed. While he doesn t feel the group s name should change, he said Michigamua is involved in a different kind of pursuit.
“I don t dismiss what happened but I am taking the stance that this happened and that things have changed,” he said. “We’re moving in a different direction, and I want to be part of that moving in a different direction, I want to be part of that movement.” … “
Monday, November 24th, 2003
Susan Wineberg pens a very interesting op-ed submission to the Ann Arbor News, blaming Ann Arbor’s affordable housing crisis on the University. While I’m not sure that the University is entirely to blame, I think her point is well taken: the University has indeed destroyed much more housing than it has replaced in the last 30 years. Her historical analysis is intriguing:
“… Consider this. When the university constructed the School of Business on Monroe St. in the late 1940s, it relocated many of the houses on that site to other parts of town. When it built the Food Services Building (later Neuroscience and just recently demolished for the Bio-Med Building going up right now) the houses on these lots were moved elsewhere. When they built the Law School and Martha Cook Dorm, houses on the site were moved to other locations. We know this from a house-moving permit book at the Bentley Library.
By the 1950s, however, the ethic of demolition had replaced that of recycling and it continues unabated to this day. In 1953 the Wines Field buildings and Geddes House were demolished and in 1959, 820 E. Washington was as well. In 1964, the Jefferson Apartments were demolished as were the Cutting Apartments on State Street. In the 1990s the university began tearing down historic houses on Wall Street to provide parking for the medical center. These houses were connected with some of the earliest settlers of Ann Arbor and deserved a better fate. In 1996, the University Terrace Apartments for married students were demolished.
The university has also been systematically buying and demolishing historic houses on South Division and intends to demolish the entire east side of Division, from Blimpie Burger (Krazy Jim’s) on Madison to East William Street. This is stated in the 1987 Update of the 1963 Campus Master Plan by Johnson, Johnson and Roy (which recently won an award from the Society for College and University Planning/American Institute of Architects) as a way “to complete the western edge of the campus by extending development to the major north and south arterial, Division Street, to provide a strong visual boundary and identity from the west. The Thompson Street parking deck will be expanded to the edge of Division and softened with landscape appropriate with the quality of the street.” This plan envisions Jefferson Street as a new entry into campus and involves the demolition of a lot of affordable and historic residential housing. … “
To me, this is what the issue comes down to: When you are a large and powerful institution with lots of money at your disposal, it is easy to destroy and built monster one-use buildings and projects. It’s extremely difficult to build complex, successful urban communities. In fact, I would argue the development of successful urban communities necessarily defies the logic of “planners” sitting in an office. Expanding the University is easy: expanding the University in a way that is successful for both the University community and city is difficult, and this is what the University should be preoccupied with - not merely where and what to build next, or where the “boundary” “should be". Here I will propose a few principals that the University and city should embrace:
1) Wherever possible, preserve historic buildings, fascades, and architectural elements. After all, it is this built history which makes all the parents croon about how “quaint” the city is, and drop lots of money in local businesses, which gives me a job and helps make Ann Arbor a pleasant place to pay $30,000 a year to live. It also helps makes us “cool,” or something like that - whatever makes Ann Arbor a place where young people will actually live, instead of running from this sprawl-obsessed state to a place with a touch of real urbanity.
2) Remain committed to a multi-use street. I’m not sure where we got the idea that a street is simply a strip of tar for cars. A street is a space for trucks, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, motorcycles, segways, etc, and should be designed with all of these uses in mind. The city should be place priority on building many more crosswalks, medians (to make crossing easier and slow traffic) and bike lanes (sorely needed, particularly “downtown” where the few that exist don’t really connect to anything or each other). Some of the most successful cities, (New York, Washington D.C., and Paris, in my experience) do this in a variety of ways - a wide street can have “express” lanes in the center, local lanes for slower traffic and delivery trucks, a median with benches, and even bike lanes. A bicycle and pedestrian has every much a “right” to be on the street as the auto, since all participate equally in the social and economic life of the city. However, I suspect many in the city harbor the prejudice that all students are somehow undesirable, and hence the city shouldn’t serve their needs - but nothing could be more wrong.
3) Both the University and the city should remember the essence of urbanism: fine-grained, multi-use development. This means the city should loosen or abolish large parts of the zoning codes for much of “downtown,” and encourage new developers to take into consideration the needs of the city. To be clear, I think this is something the city’s planning department understands, as the Lower Town project, Corner House Lofts and the Collegian will combine uses in excellent ways.
4) Related to the last principal, the University should seek to craft innovative, creative solutions to their growth needs, instead of just exercising their hegemony of power to impose their will unilaterally. The University must recognize their role in destroying street life. Parking garages, massive office and laboratory buildings all enforce a uniformity of use on the surrounding streets: meaning they will only be used at certain times of the day, and there will never be businesses, no matter how many pedestrians pass buy hungry for a cup of coffee or a bagel. There is no rational or economic reason why all new University buildings must be single-use, only a cultural one. In their obsession with constructing a “campus” with buildings in a green grid, they view using office space in University Towers and 611 Church (as examples) as temporary. Why not include ground-level retail space, or upper-classmen apartments into new buildings, like what many other colleges do? Also, while I certainly understand why campuses are nice, why not locate small offices and units of the University that don’t need to be on campus in smaller buildings in Ann Arbor? I see this being mutually beneficial: the pedestrian traffic on Ann Arbor streets would be an economic boon to downtown business, and the city could fully utilize some of its vacant lots and office space. Indeed, this is a pattern that I see occurring now, but generally because of a lack of on-campus space, not part of a general strategy. If the University wants to build their suburban paradise, they can do it on North Campus, but if its lifeless and sterile and nobody wants to go there, don’t be suprised. Ann Arbor is a city, and insisting otherwise is not only counterproductive and destructive, but downright banal.
Sunday, November 23rd, 2003
“The dinner was especially memorable for me because of the opportunity it provided to reflect on the phenomenon of which my darling rag is a part: the continuing story of conservative journalism on campus. It is an inspiring story of shoestring budgets, sleepless nights, and perseverance in the face of what is still often fierce student, and occasionally administration, animosity. It is a story that demonstrates one of the founding premises of modern American conservatism. As the famous title of one of Richard Weaver’s books puts it, “Ideas have consequences.”
I recently viewed at 1988 Frontline documentary called “Racism 101″ about the BAM III movement at the University of Michigan, and also included some about the Dartmouth Review. I thought this might be a good time to give some historical context to the whole “Review” movement. In the early 1980s, dozens of conservative publications sprung up across the country to counter what they perceived to be the liberal dogma within both the established student newspapers and also academe more generally. Although the founders may wrap their “grassroots” movement with nostalgia (see source to the above quote), each paper was from the beginning financed to the tune of thousands of dollars a year by various corporations, foundations, and individuals. Today, that aid comes from something called the Collegiate Network, which funnels money to dozens of conservative publications around the country including our beloved Michigan Review. Meanwhile, the people at the Michigan Daily and Moment have to seek advertising revenue and donations to print their newspapers.
In a sense, the Reviews are a well-funded national program to systematically attack diversity, toleration, and the liberal arts tradition more generally on college campuses. Whether it’s self-righteously arguing for the ability of standardized testing to measure intelligence, or attacking Black studies programs and women’s studies programs, they can always be counted on to provide an intolerant, reactionary, and often flat-out ignorant viewpoints that were “missing” before. As an example, Dartmouth Review staffers were suspended for harassing a professor after three of them aggressively confronted a professor after his class, with tape recorders and cameras rolling, after he had told them he didn’t want to talk to them.
The Review is also the recipient of somewhat unusually assigned office space - it’s unclear to me how their office in the Michigan League came about, and they only recently were required to re-apply for it: one of the products, ironically, of the “space panel” convened by Bollinger after the Students of Color Coalition forced the University to evict Michigamua, Phoenix, and Vulcan from the Michigan Union Tower.
Meanwhile, why do we have the day off classes on Martin Luther King Day? The MLK Symposium was created as the direct result of the Black Action Movement III, when a multiracial coalition led a one-day boycott of classes on Martin Luther King day, and asked the Regents to create special educational events and give students the day off classes. They won: the MLK Symposium was born, and the University made a strong written commitment to future diversity, although it would go unfufilled in the eyes of many in the following decade. This from the Director of OAMI John Matlock:
“When I came back to the University of Michigan - some 12 years after finishing my doctorate program, the campus was in its second or third year of officially celebrating Dr. King’s contributions. Like the national holiday, the University’s recognition didn’t come easily. Students and others on the campus had been observing the holiday with the “Commemoration of a Dream” march some years before the University agreed to recognize the holiday. The spirit of Dr. King was alive at U-M through its students - the same students who had never had the opportunity to meet Dr. King but who were the beneficiaries of his legacy.”
Monday, November 17th, 2003
I have received anonymously a list of names of of Michigamua members I had not included in my directory of members. Before I add these people to my permanent page, I’m posting them here. I encourage anyone who thinks this data may not be accurate to contact me at rob(at) goodspeedupdate.com. I’ve also added a photo to the Michigamua page, and am working on a project to post every member in that organization’s 101-year history, minus the class selected last spring, or the “Pride of 2004,” which I believe to be forthcoming.
PRIDE OF 2003:
Tyler Atkins - Dance Marathon - tatkins
LaVell Blanchard - Men’s Basketball - blanchar
Tom Church - Army ROTC - tchurch
Anita Gupta - University Students Against Cancer - apgupta
Petra Juzwishin - Women’s Crew - petramj
Rebecca Kramer - President UM Engineering Council - rkramer
Jed Ortmeyer - Men’s Ice Hockey -jortmeye
John Spytek - Football - jspytek
PRIDE OF 2002:
Jeff Hopwood - Men’s Swimming - jhopwood
Quentin Love - BGA, NSBE - qlove
Joe Young - Baseball -jfyoung
Tuesday, October 14th, 2003
Proud to be a Wolverine? This talk sounds interesting:
“Charlene Teters, from the documentary “In Whose Honor?", will be speaking on Friday October 17th, at 7:30 in the Wolverine room in the Michigan Union.
Charlene Teters (Spokane), provoked by racial and social injustices endured by American Indians, has served as a lightning rod for change. Her work has led to progress in the United States and Canada. In Central America her words and thoughts are being repeated by Indian peoples involved in their own struggles for human rights.
Charlene Teters is a founding Board Member of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, an artist, activist, and lecturer. She challenges the inappropriate use of American Indian images, culture and spiritual life ways by schools, scholars, museums, corporations, and media. In 1988 she and her artwork became politicized at The University of Illinois, a school that uses as their mascot the image of a fantasy “Chief.” The history of Charlene’s work is the subject of a nationally aired award winning documentary “In Whose Honor?” by Jay Rosenstein. She continues to expose deeply ingrained perceptions, stereotypes and racism aimed at American Indians through her multimedia art installations, writings and lectures.
Sponsored by the Native American Student Association, Native American Studies, The Exhibit museum of natural history, and the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs.”
Here’s what I want to know: why did the Facilities Director of the Michigan Union Audrey Schwimmer join Michigamua - in 2000?
Monday, October 6th, 2003
Saturday, September 13th, 2003
Leave it to the British to handle their radical politics thoroughly: according to this South London newspaper, the government antagonized by Luke Massie has compiled a 145 page “dossier” of RWL/BAM-N:
“It alleges they are involved with US-based organisations the Revolutionary Workers’ League and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).
It claims the groups have targeted several American institutions, including universities and a teacher union, using racist labels to freeze debate or to isolate and undermine individuals. …”
Tuesday, August 26th, 2003
‘Michigan is at the center of it all’
The Detroit News ran a lengthy piece today about the anticipation leading up to the admissions policy the University is expected to release, if the newspaper is to be believed, this week. The university plans to apply the new policy for the class entering January 2004. However, were there’s smoke, opportunistic Trotskyite organizers aren’t far behind:
“Luke Massie, a national leader for Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), said groups like his, which have organized students in support of affirmative action, will be closely monitoring the new system.
“The legal basis of affirmative action was strengthened by the Supreme Court,” Massie said. “What the new civil rights movement will be demanding of U-M and other institutions is that there be no drop in the number of minority students.”
Officials said they strive to enroll a student body that is academically excellent and diverse, something that will not change. But enrollment of specific groups varies from year to year depending on the characteristics of the applicant pool.
Meanwhile, the article interviews one person who seems to have put their finger on an important issue. The points system was a secret until a FOIA request by Carl Cohen forced the University to make it public, and the result of the supreme court striking it down is that the University can create a new, secret policy. One positive outcome of the lawsuit is that everybody knew exactly what the policy was, although I find it hard to believe the FOIA requests won’t quickly follow the announcement of a new policy:
“"For critics of affirmative action, this might be worse,” said Samuel Issacharoff, a Columbia University law professor who represented the University of Texas in a case that temporarily banned the use of affirmative action in Texas.
“One of the odd things about the two decisions is that they reward nontransparency,” Issacharoff said. “The undergraduate admissions program had transparency. This is a consequence … they now won’t be able to easily ascertain what they’re doing.”
> From Det. News: “U-M readies new policy”
Friday, August 1st, 2003
I have been notified by a friend in the U.K. that two members of the Revolutionary Workers’ League / BAM-N - Jodi-Marie Masley and Luke Massie - have been active in a controversial legal case in the U.K. The people behind the RWL have been rightfully discredited for their behaviour in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, and seem to be continuing the same tactics of violence and intimidation. My friend writes: “In my view BAM-N are deploying profoundly cyncial tactics, including the manipulation of a local mouthpiece, to incite racial tension and to raise the profile of racial inequality. Racial inequality is a terrible thing which should be eliminated. The methods being deployed are not good.” Here is an excerpt from a local news article:
“At the hearing, Ms Boardman also claimed she had been threatened by Luke Massie, one of Mr Owolade’s legal team.
She said: “He said they would target me and my family until I went or Alex Owolade was let back in. His approach felt very threatening - he physically pinned me in a corner near the entrance door.”
Mr. Massie denied either pinning her to the wall or mentioning her family.”
> From this article in a South London paper
> See also this excellent column about BAMN’s tactics by Nathan Newman, a blogger and journalist in the U.S.: Hijacking of the Affirmative Action Movement
> If you are new to this website, see my domain www.nobamn.com for background information
Friday, May 30th, 2003
Although it’s not news, I just discovered an interesting tidbit. According to the minutes of a meeting between the Native American Student Association and VP for ‘Student’ Affairs Royster Harper, the University is holding the Michigamua artifacts which rightfully belong in the Bentley Historical Library at property they own at Willow Run. If they really wanted to get it off campus, they could probubly put it in the basement of the U-M owned, abandoned building across the street from the DIA - the Rackham Educational Memorial.