UMCP's PastIn his June 28 letter concerning the Banneker...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 14, 1995

UMCP's Past

In his June 28 letter concerning the Banneker Scholarship at the University of Maryland College Park, Kenneth Morgan writes that "conspicuously missing from the university's argument in its defense before the courts was the fact that institutional racism has continued to permeate the university, affecting both recruitment and retention up to this day, as documented by black students and faculty alike."

He then details information concerning what the university did -- during the time he was there from 1973 to 1979, based on the assumption that the university withheld information concerning its history from the court.

Unfortunately Mr. Morgan's letter was clearly written without any review of the record that was before the court.

Had he reviewed the record (or simply read the district court's opinion), Mr. Morgan would have known that the university argued that the Banneker program was justified as one of many tools to deal with low retention and graduation rates for African-Americans, a hostile climate for African-Americans and to improve the university's reputation in the African-American community.

Mr. Morgan also would have known that all the history that he describes in his letter and more was before the court. Thus it was the evidence presented by the university that led the district court to conclude that "even as the 1973 plan was being implemented and as OCR [Office of Civil Rights] developed criteria for Title VI compliance, the university took actions that hindered its own efforts at desegregation. The Office of Minority Student Education was downgraded and its various components were transferred to other administrative units of the university."

In defending the Banneker Scholarship, officials at UMCP, primarily President William E. Kirwan, did something that few institutions or individuals are willing to do: It attempted to deal honestly and forthrightly with its past.

Neither UMCP nor any other institution or person can change the past, it can only confront it, acknowledge it and deal honestly and openly with what is left.

The UMCP did. It bared its soul with respect to its history and current situation in dealing with African-Americans. Unfortunately, the solution proposed by The Sun and others, to use race as one of many factors, will simply not have the same effect as Banneker has had for numerous reasons that are detailed in the record compiled by the university in defending the scholarship.

Although the Banneker program will no longer continue as a scholarship for African-Americans, I strongly recommend the RTC university to any African-American student.

Any university that is willing to openly acknowledge its previous history of discrimination is a university where an African-American student should feel comfortable that he or she will be treated as an individual.

Evelyn O. Cannon

Baltimore

The writer is chief of litigation in the Office of the Attorney General of Maryland and represented UMCP in the case.

Winning Numbers

Re your June 18 editorial, "Not Enough Phone Numbers": There are enough numbers, but the phone companies refuse to upgrade the system and rely only on a three-digit code or precept.

Even the post office uses five digits in its zip code.

If the phone companies would upgrade their systems so that for a fax phone one would dial FAX (329) first and similarly CEL (235) and MOD (663) for cellular and modem connections, there would be enough numbers without changing area codes.

Maybe Bell's chief executives should take the first three digits off their paychecks so we could have more numbers under their Model T technology.

Walter Cerevic

Baltimore

Solving Problems

Not too long ago, your newspaper and many others were outraged about a National Rifle Association letter which described government agents as "jack-booted thugs." Similar rage was and is being vented about the militias' provocative pronouncements. And perhaps this is a justifiable rage.

However, don't you find it, at worst, hypocritical or, at best, inconsistent to publish the thoughts of Andrei Codrescu?

This person asks the question, "Shouldn't they shoot the tourists instead?" Now, I realize that, if called to task about this statement, the author will be quick to say that this is a rhetorical question.

Yet, the violent acts carried out by some of the environmentalists and animal rightists would carry the meaning of this question beyond rhetoric. After all, isn't the Animal Liberation Front high on the FBI's list of known terrorist groups?

Mr. Codrescu is like so many others who seek to solve problems by asking questions but never offering answers. They delight in spewing out hate with words like "assassins" or "surplus of human bones" (whatever that means).

The problem, as I understand it, is that the nutria are destroying the environment in Louisiana. And therein lies the dilemma: Save the critters or protect the environment? One can't have it both ways.

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