Vietnam War key point in student activism of 1960s

To the Daily:

I appreciated the Friday Focus article last week, (Birth of a
Student Movement
, 02/13/04) on the early years of Students for
a Democratic Society at the University. For the sake of historical
accuracy, I would like to emphasize a point inadvertently left out
in the comments attributed to me. My argument that political
activism on campus today is more widespread than “in the days
of SDS” should have included this qualification: before the
escalation of the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. In the Port Huron
Statement of 1962, SDS observed that “we are a minority
… we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet the message of
our society is that there is no viable alternative to the
present.” The organization then included fewer than 1,000
members, but the Vietnam War turned SDS into a mass movement. By
1968 membership reached nearly 100,000, and about 10 percent of all
college students defined themselves as “political
radicals.” Recognizing the centrality of the Vietnam War is
essential to understanding the outpouring of campus activism in the
late 1960s and early 1970s, and I believe that the failure to
emphasize this context often leads to problematic and distorted
comparisons between a “politicized” ’60s
generation and an “apathetic” current youth
generation.

Matt Lassiter

Assistant history professor

City officials need to re-think anti-pedestrian
outlooks

To the Daily:

I was disappointed to read the anti-pedestrian bias of
University and city officials in the Daily story Jaywalking
causes greater concern since student deaths
(02/17/04).

In a city where many residents choose not to drive or own a car,
it is not only fundamentally unfair but degrading to expect
pedestrians to scurry squirrel-like across heavily-trafficked
streets to get to the Union, class, the supermarket or to their
church, temple or mosque.

Autos and pedestrians should share the road, and city officials
should install well-marked, raised and lit crosswalks at places
where many pedestrians cross the street: on South University, on
Madison Street in front of South Quad and on Plymouth Road, among
others.

When there is a glut of automobile traffic, city officials seem
to jump to rectify the situation. When there is a glut of
pedestrian traffic, city officials frequently blame the pedestrians
for not walking far out of their way to get to their destination,
something rarely expected of automobile drivers.

Yes, Ann Arbor Police Department Lt. Mike Logghe is correct:
Impatient pedestrians jaywalking are a problem. However, in my view
impatient motorists are a more serious problem, whether running red
or yellow lights or, in an incident last week, pulling over to slap
a fellow motorist who was driving “too slowly.” City
officials should understand they can minimize jaywalking by
installing more crosswalks and increasing the crossing time on
“walk” lights.

Rob Goodspeed

LSA senior

The letter writer is a former Daily staff writer

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