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Report from the Ann Arbor Chapter
by Ann Arbor Chapter
The Ann Arbor chapter of Science for the People has been active in a number of projects since last September. A display board explaining the differences between the conservative, liberal and radical approaches to the food and population issue was constructed and set up in the Zoology department at the University of Michigan in March—much to the department’s dismay. The predictable response of departmental officials occurred and the display was ordered removed on the grounds that it was political and not scientific. There ensued an equally predictable response by liberal faculty members to our protests that the department had allowed other obviously political displays to stand (lifeboats in a paper sea with clothespin people struggling in and out of the boats?!?!). The final decision to permit our display to stand carne under the traditional liberal line that the university is an open objective forum of ideas. If anything, the whole incident was another example that science cannot be and is not divorced from political interests.
In March the University of Michigan was blessed with the appearance of Garret Hardin and his lifeboat ethic. We prepared a leaflet and distributed it at Hardin’s main lecture and organized a counter-panel discussion the next evening. The appearance of our bulletin-board display coincided with Hardin’s visit, and provoked a great deal of discussion.
In April, the chapter coordinated a Food and Population workshop at the University of Michigan Food Week Conference. Gar Allen from St. Louis and Bobbie Lammers from the University of Minnesota provided information for discussion on the oppressive political and economic nature of trade agreements between the U.S. and Third-World countries. Attention also focused on alternative agricultural methods of production more suitable to Third-World development.
From mid-February to mid-March the Graduate Employees Organization (G.E.O.) went out on strike against the University. Science for the People activities per se came to a standstill during that time as we all joined the picket lines and other union-support activities. The G.E.O. strike was the longest strike in the history of the University of Michigan and resulted in a very strong contract.
We are currently involved in three activities. First, a study group meets regularly discussing a variety of issues. Second, we are preparing a slide show which presents a Marxist perspective on the food-and-population issue. Third, we are organizing a colloquium on “Biological Determinism”. This latter activity results in part from the University’s $1000 response to our request for $2500 to produce the colloquium in conjunction with the fanfare of what the University calls its Values Year Program at the U. of M. (This is the same year that Henry Kissinger was invited as a commencement speaker, in case you were wondering what values they’re talking about.) It will be a five-day colloquium featuring speakers and workshops on topics such as race and I.Q., the biological basis of sex roles, inherent aggressive and competitive tendencies, etc. Speakers will include Richard Lewontin, Val Woodward and others. Tentatively, the proceedings of the colloquium will be published in paperback form as a Science for the People report. We urge all Science for the People members to attend if they possibly can. The colloquium will be held from September 29 to October 6. For further information please write to: John Vandermeer, Zoology Dept., University of Michigan or call: (313) 764-1446 or (313) 971-1165.
Ann Arbor Chapter
Science for the People