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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

I would like to think that there is a solution to the problem. But I don't think a solution is possible as long as we have the Codrescus of the world entering the dialogue.

Don Dillon

Chestertown

My Mistake: Visiting Baltimore

Last month, I visited Baltimore for the first time on business. I was not able to get a room reservation in the city of Baltimore, so I had to stay on Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie.

During my free time, I wanted to do some sight-seeing and take in an Orioles game. Finding it very expensive to travel back and forth to the city by taxi, I decided to try to learn your rail system. That was my first mistake.

Actually it was my second mistake; my first was coming to Baltimore.

Now, let me explain what took place. I got on bus No. 14 on Ritchie Highway, paid $1.25 and received a transfer slip to get on the light rail, which brought me to Pratt Street in downtown Baltimore.

While riding downtown, no one asked me for a ticket. After spending a wonderful day sightseeing at Inner Harbor, I decided to catch the light rail back to Patapsco Street, my original stop.

During the ride back to Patapsco, three police officers boarded the train. An officer in the car I was riding started asking other passengers questions as he walked down the aisle.

When Officer Ronald Luiz of the Mass Transit Administration approached me and asked me for my ticket, I replied I didn't have one. Officer Luiz asked me how I got downtown and I explained to him about catching the bus and receiving a transfer slip.

I told him I thought this was also the procedure for the return trip, or perhaps I could purchase a ticket on the train itself after boarding.

Officer Luiz was hearing none of this. I told him that this was my first time riding the light rail and that I was from Massachusetts and was here on business.

He told me to get off the train. I asked Officer Luiz where I was supposed to have bought a ticket and he pointed to a blue vending-type machine. He asked me if I was blind.

I told him that I had not noticed the machine at the Pratt Street station, and he proceeded to write me a ticket for failure to exhibit proof of payment.

I felt I was being publicly humiliated and treated with total disrespect. Upon hearing that the fine for this offense was $270, I was in total shock.

The officer told me that I could appear before the judge and argue my case or I could send payment by mail. I told him it would cost me more that $500 in airfare to return to Baltimore to argue my case. He said that was my problem.

The only crime of which I am guilty is ignorance of the rail system. If this is the way Baltimore treats its tourists, it is small wonder that Baltimore is not a top tourist spot.

Richard Williams

Pittsfield, Mass.

The writer is president of Local 255, International Union of Electronic, Electric, Technical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers.

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