"Government is watering the weeds and pulling the flowers," former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower repeatedly told a crowd of about 50 students Monday in the Houston Room of the University Center.

Hightower was the featured speaker in a group, including state Rep. Debra Danburg, D-Houston, and former state Sen. Al Luna. They appeared at UH to promote grass-roots political involvement as part of Student Empowerment Awareness Month (SEAM).

"I think it went really well," Students' Association Vice President Andrew Monzon, coordinator of S.E.A.M., said. "I think tonight really got at what SEAM is trying to hit, which is the need to get out there and start doing things for yourself."

Hightower said only a grass-roots movement could change a government that had really become a one-party system providing little choice for voters.

"If we fight only within the confines of the existing system, we'll find everything is stacked against us," Hightower said.

"It's not enough just to vote," he said. "The real power comes by getting people to run against the SOBs that're in there."

Hightower said one of the biggest problems with government was public apathy of issues affecting working people.

"Government bureacracy has really become a poor gardener," Hightower said. "We're watering the weeds. For 80 percent of people, income has gone down. And for the wealthiest 1 percent, income has increased 74 percent.

"The rich are getting money the old-fashioned way -- the government gives it to them," Hightower said.

Hightower said the Democratic Party was no longer playing the role of the worker's party.

"The leadership of the Democrats has begun shedding their Sears Roebuck suits and are turning the Democratic donkey into a Republican mule," Hightower said. "Some people say we need a third party, I say we need a second party."

Hightower said the $1.4 trillion being used to bail out defaulting Savings and Loans establishments would do more good in social programs.

"If you go into any cut-and-shoot cafe in the state of Texas and ask how to spend $1.4 trillion, how many are going to say they'd really want to help out those S & L's?" Hightower said.

Hightower said the free-trade agreement with Mexico was simply feeding the greed of multinational corporations.

Hightower also questioned how $3 billion in U.S. aid could go to the Soviet Union while $91 million could not be spent on reviving an innoculation program to fight recent measle outbreaks at home.

Hightower said the government's bad gardening is alienating citizens and keeping them out of the political process.

"I've been all across the country in the last several months," he said, "and it seems people feel they don't matter. It makes people lonely.

"Jefferson talked about the pursuit of happiness, but this seems to be a much larger goal than anything in the political process," Hightower said.

"And I'm not just talking to the tofu-and-bean-sprouts crowd," Hightower said. "I'm talking about things the snuff-chewing bunch cares about too."

Hightower said planting a popular movement would help cultivate future public policy to tackle social justice and economic fairness.

"We're a country of tremendous aspirations and every person wants to succeed," Hightower said. "We must entrust America's destiny to the genius of the many."

Hightower, agricultural commissioner from 1983 to January 1991, said his departure from office had allowed him to pursue creating a nationwide popular movement.

"I'm carrying my popular message all across the country," Hightower said before his speech. "I'm working on a book, and I've started developing a national radio show for commercial radio and National Public Radio."

Hightower said he would be in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati later in the month.









With violent crime continuing to escalate in Houston, UH students and faculty are taking precautions to avoid becoming just another statistic.

During the weekend of Sept. 21, 16 Houstonians were victims of violent crime, and a recent Houston Post article reported the homicide rate has risen 7.9 percent so far this year.

Because of these increasing crime rates, many students and faculty are taking steps to protect themselves.

Antoine Burks, a freshman journalism major, said he tries to stay inside after dark.

"I don't go out as much as I used to," Burks said. "I had a friend of mine who was killed in some type of shooting. I don't go to convenience stores after certain hours and I rarely go out to stores after nine."

Thu Tran, a senior marketing major, said she is more alert when walking out to her car at night.

"I have to be cautious as to who is walking beside me," she said. "I'm real alert. I have to have my keys in my hand, always. I don't just walk out and keep looking at the ground."

UH Police officer Derrick McClinton said students should be very aware of their surroundings.

"If you're getting in your car, you want to look around and see if anyone suspicious is around the car," he said.

The last campus crime report, in The Daily Cougar Sept. 6, reported three cases of robbery and aggravated robbery. Since then, at least three other incidences involving handguns have occurred on campus, McClinton said.

"It's kind of rare to have that many weapons involved in so close of a time," he said.

McClinton said he advises students who observe crimes not to become involved.

"If they see anything suspicious, I prefer that they give us a call," he said. "Even if they're not sure, we'll go over and check it out. It's not a big hassle."

McClinton said students should use the campus escort service more often. Students should be patient and remain indoors while waiting for an escort, he said.

McClinton regularly conducts crime prevention classes for faculty and students. However, a recent session at Cambridge Oaks Apartments attracted the interest of only five residents, he said.

McClinton said he plans on conducting more crime prevention classes on campus for students throughout the semester.

"I guess people don't really get interested until they are a victim of crime or they know somebody and it hits close to home," he said.

McClinton said carrying firearms on campus is illegal. However, he said it is legal for a student to carry mace or a stun-gun.

"I don't like to suggest it, because it gives a false sense of security," he said. "They think they have their mace and they think, `Well I can go out now at night because now I have my mace.' I don't want them to get that feeling that they're really secure with just mace."

Houston Police Sgt. Bruce Williams said he believes carrying mace is better than nothing if it is used properly. However, Williams said he feels students and faculty should feel "professionally suspicious, not paranoid."

"Quite honestly, I think that the way to prevent personalized crimes (crimes against a person) is to use the five senses," Williams said. "Just not using your sense of sight or hearing. Everything, touch, smell, the whole works."

Residential Life and Housing Director Thomas Pennett said he thinks campus crime prevention has become a concern for adults as well as students.

"I think the reason we had such a strong demand for housing this fall is they feel a certain degree of safety and security being here on campus," he said.

Pennett said some of the problems currently being addressed are doors being propped open and visitors in the halls. He said he is considering curtailing the current 24-hour visitation privilege, and allowing visitors in the dorms only during certain hours of the day.

"Of course this procedure would be subject to the residents' vote," he said.

Pennett theorized that a restricted visitation policy would not only increase safety, it would also prevent embarrassment.

Pennett said campus housing has recently installed new locks on every dorm room, designed to lock from the oustide whenever the door closes. "I think we're trying to address a problem before it happens," he said.

Kassandra Fannin, a senior RTV major, has her own way of preventing crime.

"Overall, I am a lot more cautious," she said. "I took a course in self-defense to make sure I can take care of myself."

William Hawes, a UH communications professor, said he does his best to let his night classes out on time.

"I always let my class out promptly, my evening classes, so that the students can get to their cars before the campus is locked," he said.

"My car was stolen, so my car now has an alarm in it," he said. "My precaution is a $400 alarm."









While a new study released by the U.S. Census Bureau says college-educated black men earn less than similarly educated white men, a UH administrator reports there is no difference in salaries between the races in "high demand fields."

The study, which reported average yearly incomes with respect to educational background, showed white male college graduates earning nearly one-third a year more than equally educated black males.

However, David Small, UH assistant vice president for student services, says in high demand fields like business, engineering and technology, there is virtually no disparity in salaries between blacks and whites.

Small bases his findings on a yearly career status survey the Career Planning and Placement Center conducts on recent UH graduates.

The study conducted by the Census Bureau tested education as the only variable, which resulted in the following figures: black men 25 and older with four or more years of college earned, on average, $31,380 in 1989. White men with equal education earned an average of $41,090.

The gap between black and white women age 25 and older was narrower, with college-educated black women earning an average of $26,730 in 1989, and equally educated white women earning $27,440.

The survey conducted by the UH placement center takes these statistics a step further and classifies the earning power of men and women of all races by the type of degree held.

Small says the conclusion he has drawn from the many surveys the office has conducted is that in fields where the job market is flooded, like social sciences and humanities and fine arts, whites do tend to earn more than blacks. However, in fields where the demand for skilled graduates is high, like in business and engineering, blacks and whites enjoy the same potential earning power.

Morris Graves, director of the African American Studies Program, said that in regional surveys that he has covered in the Houston area, blacks tend to earn higher salaries in fields such as engineering and technology. Graves said because of the scarcity of applicants in these fields, minority graduates, especially those with a GPA of 3.0 or better, can expect a higher starting salary than most white applicants.

However, in the low demand fields, where the competition for employment is fierce, Graves said blacks still must face traditional stereotypes and perceptions.

"Blacks have to be better than whites in the low demand fields to be perceived as competent," Graves said.

Graves also said the turn of the century will bring about the most diverse managerial force in history, with minorities enjoying greater success and higher wages.








The pressure is on for the Alpha and Bravo teams to place high in this year's Ranger Challenge Head-To-Head Competition.

The UH teams are prepared for the ROTC competition which requires that participants be in excellent physical condition.

"We expect to place number one this year," said Cadet Sgt. Donell Artis, a junior political science major.

The October competition at Sam Houston State University will give UH's Alpha and Bravo teams a chance to check out the competition for November's Brigade Ranger Challenge Shootout at Fort Hood.

Only the Alpha team will compete at Fort Hood, said Cadet Maj. Justin Woodson, a senior biology major.

The Alpha team consists of the nine strongest UH ROTC members who volunteered to compete. The Bravo team is the nine next strongest ROTC members.

UH teams will be up against Texas A&M, Prarie View A&M, Sam Houston State, University of Texas and Texas Christian University.

Teams will compete in marksmanship skills, a rucksack run, grenade throwing, weapons assembly, crossing a one-rope bridge and orienteering. They will also have to pass an Army physical fitness test, Woodson said.

The rucksack run requires participants to carry a 30-pound rucksack full of equipment on their backs during a 10-kilometer run.

Orienteering is a timed event where the participants use a compass and a map to find strategically placed stakes in a wooded area.

For the assembly event, teams will have to assemble weapons from a box containing the parts of three different weapons.

For the first competition at SHSU, orienteering will not be included and the rucksack run will be reduced to three miles.

Potential Alpha and Bravo team members were subjected to a physical training test in which they had to endure timed sit-up and push-up tests and a two-mile run. The final part of qualification was subjective. Department of Military Science Chairman Lt. Col. Robert Shaffer and Woodson chose persons who were qualified in areas other than those tested.

Members of the UH Alpha Team are Woodson, Artis, Joey Alsup, Jason Helm, Bassey Bassey, Roy Gunnels and Ross Pollack.

Bravo Team members are Leslie Grant, Cammie Kelly, Juddison Kennimer, Chuck Saukam, Alma Flores, Amanda Shanley, Gene Cannon and Cadet Cpt. Hope Healen.

Two years ago, UH placed 15th out of 16 schools in the Head-To-Head. The next year, UH placed 7th out of 16 schools.

"We expect number one out of this one," sophomore Leslie Grant said.









Preparing for a $7.2 million "worst-case scenario" cut in funding, UH has produced a working budget for Fiscal Year 1992-93, which will ask departments to reduce this year's (1992) budget 1.3 percent and FY '93's by 3.9 percent.

Deputy to the President Thomas Jones, currently the interim vice president for administration and finance, said these reductions are contingent upon the recently discovered rider in the State Appropriations Bill stating that if there is a $300 million shortfall, state agencies will have to contribute 5.27 percent of their FY '93 budget to offset the shortfall.

For UH, in FY '92 the combined 1.3 percent reductions will total $1.5 million. The 3.9 percent reductions in FY '93 will total $4.5 million, Hugh Ferguson, interim assistant vice president for planning and budgeting, said.

UH will also use a $960,000 FY '92 fund balance, he said, to meet the $7.2 million necessary if the cuts occur.

Ferguson stressed that this is a working document, and that it will be up to the deans to decide where the cuts will occur.

But whether higher education will be included is a question that will require further investigation, Jones said.

"Some feel very strongly this does not apply to universities," Jones said. "We don't know how this is going to play out."

State Comptroller John Sharp targeted $300 million in savings from the Productivity Bonus Program, which is operated by the Texas Incentive and Productivity Commission.

The program includes all executive and judicial branch agencies except the Governor's Office and higher education institutions.

The participating agencies can give their employees bonuses -- not exceeding $1,000 -- from their savings.

If the targeted amount is not reached through voluntary savings generated during FY '92 and projected for FY '93, there will be a mandatory reduction from non-exempted agency budgets in FY '93 to make up the difference.

"Unfortunately, they (legislators) excluded us from participating, but they didn't exclude us from paying for it (if there was a shortfall)," Jones said.

Jones said many feel that it was not the legislators intent to include higher education if a shortfall occurred.

One of the ways to resolve this issue, Jones said, is if the Legislature is called into special session and the rider is re-examined.

But if a special session is called, Gov. Ann Richards determines what topics will be discussed, he said.

"We would have to have the Governor in agreement to talk about it," Jones said.

Another option would be if all the universities worked together to have the rider overturned, he said.

He cited the way universities banded together to overturn Sharp's original proposals for higher education as an example.

"We will have to test the waters -- we might have to go to court," Jones said.

Jones said the university only recently found out about this part of the Appropriations Bill and other universities in Texas are in the same boat.

"As soon as the dust settles, you can be assured that we will work on this," Jones said.

If it is determined that higher education does not have to ante up, each department will have their 5.27 percent savings returned, Jones said.

But this might not be the only shortfall higher education could be strapped with.

"If the lottery is not passed in November," Jones said, "the comptroller will have to decide where those expected funds will come from."








If have anger you can't control, can't express or if you deal frequently with an angry person, a new UH personal development workshop can help you cope.

Offered by Counseling and Testing Service, "Dealing With Anger" is slated to start on Oct. 7 and will meet for four consecutive weeks.

"We want to help people to dispel the myth that anger is a failure to cope. Instead, it can be a natural signal that something in our lives needs our attention," said Bill Crawford, who will co-lead the workshop with Robin Bullington. "Anger can even be energy to make changes in our life, to mobilize us."

Crawford and Bullington, CTS counselors, will lead the group in writing exercises and discussion. The exercises will help people discover how and from whom they learned about expressing anger.

"When we're able to write our feelings down, it helps us get in touch with them and also to understand them better," Crawford said. "Once people become more comfortable with using anger as a signal and an energy for change, they can then use this energy more purposefully in their lives."

Dr. Rosemary Hughes, assistant CTS director, agrees. "Knowing how to manage one's anger is a very important coping skill. It's important for people to learn how to avoid acting out their anger in aggressive or possibly even violent ways. We feel offering this workshop is one way the university can respond to the ever-increasing violence in society."

The Dance of Anger, the best seller by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, will be recommended reading for the workshop.

To register, call 749-1731. A required screening interview for participants will be scheduled at that time. Enrollment will be limited to 12 people to facilitate group discussion, although additional sections will be offered if the demand is great enough.

In addition to "Dealing With Anger", CTS offers a variety of academic and personal-development workshops. The workshops provide coping tips and help students develop skills necessary for college success.

"Raising Self-Esteem," "Conflict Resolution," "Date Rape Awareness & Prevention," "Sexual Harassment," "Suddenly Single" and "Graduate Students Support Group" are just a few of the 45 workshops and support groups offered this semester.

A full list of the workshops and support groups offered by CTS is available at the Social Work Building, Room 321, or at the Student Service Center, second floor.

Hughes encourages interested students to call her at 749-7197 for more information about any of the workshops offered.

If, after attending a workshop, an individual needs additional assistance, intensive one-on-one discussion with counselors is available. Also, the CTS staff will take the workshops on the road to groups such as the residence halls , staff groups or classes, depending on staff availability.








Academic and community leaders will meet Wednesday at the UH Hilton to discuss issues affecting the future relationship between scholarship and teaching in higher education.

The day-long conference, developed by the UH Faculty Senate, will address issues involving the university, public policy and corporate research.

Conference participants will include UH President Marguerite Ross Barnett, state Sen. Carl A. Parker, D-Port Arthur, and Leonard Minsky, executive director of the National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest.

John Bernard, president of the Faculty Senate said he wanted to find time for more substantive discussions of academic and educational issues.








In a recent survey ranking prestige in jobs, the American public ranked college presidents just below doctors and above astronauts, according to the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center.

Since 1988, however, the nation's academic community has endured a rash of scandals involving college presidents who have, in one sense or another, lost the confidence of students or peers enough to be ousted from office. Considering that 300 to 400 college presidents are selected for four-year universities each year, the number is quite low.

But when a president falls, particularly a beloved one, shock waves can reverberate for years.

Amid the whirl of allegations and accusations, a question is hotly debated: Are university presidents judged by a higher standard than other public officials?

Most educators say yes.

"A college president becomes the image of the institution he or she serves," said James B. Appleberry, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. "If that image is tarnished, there is rarely a way for the public to separate the president from the college or university."

Presidential misbehavior, particularly involving sexual improprieties, is often fair game for tabloids and television programs such as Hard Copy and A Current Affair, which drag the entire event, in embarrassing detail, into the national limelight.

Such was the recent case of Robert Altman, 45, the articulate, high-profile University of Central Florida president whose penchant for massage services on out-of-town trips brought the demise of his presidency.

"These are positions of public trust," said Dr. Charles Reed, chancellor of the state university system of Florida. "Yes, we are judged and held to a higher standard than any other position in public trust."

However, many students rushed to Altman's defense. Some said that college administrators may not get a fair shake once the accusations start rolling.

"If he (Altman) were the president of a company, he would still be the president of the company," said Jason DiBona, president of the UCF student body at that time. "I don't think it's realistic to look for leaders who have public private lives."

Jamie Carte, editor of The Central Florida Future, said students generally seemed stunned by the scandal, which unfolded a short time after Altman received a major award for his work as university president.

"I think they were all shocked just reading the headlines," she said.

Although there was sympathy for Altman's situation, students were also realistic.

"It was really sad because he had a lot going and he blew it all," Carte said.

The resulting fallout hasn't settled completely on campus.

Altman, who is now serving in an advisory role to the board of regents, will be drawing a salary until November. He has declined to speak with reporters since his resignation. When he makes his exit, it marks the end of a troubled time at UCF.

"It's the right thing to do to hold educators to a higher standard because they provide leadership -- an example to students," Reed said. "The only thing colleges have is their integrity. You must do everything you can to uphold that."

The UCF struggle was similar to one that occurred at American University in 1990, when it was discovered that its former president, Richard E. Berendzen, was making obscene telephone calls.

Berendzen pleaded guilty, was given a suspended 30-day sentence and checked into the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Washington -- but the aftershock on campus went on for months.

After protests over a money settlement, which was eventually withdrawn, it was decided that Berendzen, who would continue treatment for his condition, could return to the school as a professor of physics in the spring of 1992.

Being a college president is "certainly a high-powered job," says American University's Anita Gottlieb, assistant vice president for university relations. "I believe there is a lot of stress in many of them -- but I don't believe they are more stressful than any other."

"They (presidents) are just like anyone else," said Gottlieb, who was the university spokeswoman at the time of Berendzen's troubles. "If they need to fund-raise, they have to become very visible. If they behave in ways that are against the norm, they are out in the public arena ... and that makes them different than the corporate executive."

Others disagree. Frank Newman, former president of the University of Rhode Island, says being a college president is stressful.

"The public has such enormous faith and belief in you -- it is an added burden," he says. "People will feel let down and betrayed -- so much is expected of you. It's a role that (the president) will be above partisan battles and narrow interests, no question about it."








For a film given an award at this year's Sundance Festival, I would've expected a hell of lot more than the meekly uninteresting Hangin' With the Homeboys provided.

Once again the general public is given a movie touted as "richly entertaining" or "fresh and vital" only to find out after investing a week's salary it doesn't even come close to living up to such grandiose promotion.

Joseph B. Vasquez's film is merely another in a huge line of movies long on marketing and very, very short on substance.

Hangin' With the Homeboys is the hackneyed tale of a bunch of "guys" who spend a raucous yet supposedly enlightening night out on the town together.

In between the parties, the obligatory run-in with the law and the journey from the South Bronx to Manhattan, Vasquez tries to make us believe his gang of four comes to some introspective and lasting life understandings.

Unfortunately, he tries too hard.

Any picaresque elements of the film which might have been utilized effectively crumble under the oppressive weight of cliche dialogue, trite situations and tremendously overworked characterization which ultimately deteriorates into caricature.

Mario Joyner, the marginally funny host of MTV's Half-Hour Comedy Hour, is marginally believable as the unflinchingly unflappable actor wannabe, Tom.

While his lines as a would-be thespian are nothing short of mundane, Joyner does little to convey them as real. As one of his cohorts, Willie (Doug E. Doug), points out in the narrative, "Your acting sucks."

Joyner is barely fit for life on the grossly stylized video channel and is even less worthy of a career on the big screen.

John Luguizamo portrays a quiet Puerto Rican grocery worker, the innocent of the film. Bland, naive and stupid are exceedingly more accurate terms for his character.

Nestor Serrano plays Vinny, the womanizing, aggravating Puerto Rican who wants to be Italian (his real name is Fernando) and basically looks down his nose at everything alive. Very subtle.

Rounding out the primary cast is the aforementioned Doug E. Doug, perfectly miscast in his role as Willie, a militant black man who insists that white America is completely responsible for his welfare state.

I'm not sure whether the acting is just pathetic or whether the screenplay is so abhorrent that no actor alive could save this effort. My guess is it's combination of the two.

As with most films of this genre, at the heart of Hangin' With the Homeboys is a feeling of extreme egotism, machismo and self-centered "maleness."

The characters are decidedly cruel to women, treating them as object, except for Johnny who is just too inexperienced to know any different.

Vasquez never breaks that mold, even in closing, leaving one with the sense that any realizations these fellows have come to will be realizations confined to a male-dominated world.

Racial issues raised between the friends and in altercations with outside groups ring true to only the most undereducated student of cutural relations as Vasquez bludgeons his audience silly with stereotypical hate scenarios.

Television has done a more than adequate job of butchering any of Vasquez's topics with equally effective results.

What is galling about a movie like Hangin' With the Homeboys is not that it got made and not that it got released. There are plenty of films worse than this one. But there are plenty better with which this one cannot even compete. For the moviegoing public to be duped into thinking this work has the credentials of a cinematic tour de force shows a lack of concern and not a shred of integrity by the people responsible for hyping it. And I'm not talking about the folks who are paid to do that specific job.

Jurors at the Sundance Festival and critics like the Post's Joe Leydon have relaxed their standards accordingly with the new U.S. policy of shameless mediocrity, a policy which extends virtually across the board in entertainment these days.

Frivolous schlock now constitutes art. Advertising says it must be so. Consumerism allows it to continue. We are all paying the collective price and receiving nothing in return.

Hurray for Hollywood.








Realizing that functionally illiterate people must struggle to survive, several UH Law School students are helping to allieviate the problem.

More than 25 law students are joining the Houston Read Commission and UH's Metropolitan Volunteer Board to tutor those in need of assistance.

"I think (UH) law students are especially qualified to tutor illiterate people," said Margaret Doughty, director of the Houston Read Commission. "They have a heightened awareness of the fact that in order to comprehend the law, a person must be literate. Law students know literacy students are not free until they have a basic knowledge of their First Amendment rights and are able to fully exercise them."

Thomas Rannells, a second-year law student and coordinator of the Law Student Illiteracy Volunteer Program, said the potential tutors are already uniquely qualified to work with the functionally illiterate.

"Law students have high reading proficiencies and the public skills necessary to fully comprehend laws and articulate their positions," Rannells said. "These skills should help them when teaching illiterate adults."

The two training sessions for potential volunteers, which when combined constitute the required 12-hour certification program, will be conducted in October and November. During the sessions, trainees will be taught literacy lesson plans, participate in practice sessions and review the process of learning to read, Doughty said.

Upon conclusion of the training program, the tutors will work from one to two hours a week at a mutually determined site for a six-month period.

Joe Maida IV, a third-year law student, State Bar Association of Texas student representative and coordinator of law student volunteer programs, said law students realize the severity of the problem.

"Currently, I have a list of more than 25 students who are interested in assisting the Read Commission in its efforts to solve the illiteracy problem," he said.

The ultimate goal of the program is to have the student reading at a functional level at the end of a six-month period, Maida said.

Statistics provided by the Read Commission indicate about 537,000 Houstonians are functionally illiterate, meaning they read below fifth-grade level.

A study conducted in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education concluded Texas had an illiteracy rate of 20 percent.

Third-year law student and certified literacy tutor Stephen McVea, president of the Black Law Students' Association, said a two-pronged approach to solving the problem is necessary.

"I have a social view of the illiteracy problem and a selfish view," he said. "The societal perspective is based on the idea that illiterate people are less fortunate than those who can read and write. If they don't get help, some of them may eventually become an adversary, a contributor to such societal ills as crime.

"From the selfish perspective, it is important to take preventive measures to ensure an illiterate person will have the same opportunities I've had," McVea said.








The U.S. Student Association recently teamed withe the National Abortion Rights Action League in Washington to oppose Clarence Thomas' nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"There have been instances where he could've helped historically black colleges and he didn't," said USSA President Tajel Shah, as the Senate Judiciary Committee began hearings on Thomas' nomination. "Obviously, as an educational organization, that is against everything we stand for. We want everyone to have access to higher education."

The lobbying group for students also was concerned about the American Bar Association's "qualified" rating for Thomas.

"That's the lowest rating they've given anybody nominated," Shah said, citing Thomas' handling of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cases that they say show he does not believe in helping people traditionally discriminated against such as homosexuals, the elderly, women and minorities.

Although dissent was scattered on campuses, Thomas' nomination was a frequent topic of discussion.

"Most people I've spoken to are against him," said Megan Thomas, a senior at the University of Minnesota and a member of University Young Women.

"We haven't really taken a stand as a group," Thomas said, "but I'm personally opposed to his nomination because it's obvious he's against a woman's right to choose. And, I oppose his views of natural law."

Clarence Thomas was questioned at length about both issues. He told Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on Sept. 11 that he has not prejudged the issue of abourtion and did not intentionally write in support of an anti-abortion article he is claimed to have praised.

As for his well-documented view of natural law, a theory that says certain individual rights are independent of all government authority, Thomas said, "the question for me was from a political theory standpoint...I would maintain that I would maintain that I do not feel that natural rights or natural law has a basis or has a use in constitutional adjudication."

Orlando Robinson, co-director of records for the University of Wisconsin's Black Student Union, said, "The way the court has gone with affirmative action and civil rights, it's turned bacxk the other way. They're reverting back to the 1800s mindset and we see (Thomas) as another setback.

"We aren't sure if he's qualified...We think he was nominated because of his race and are concerned he's just a Republican puppet," he added.

While many are voicing opinions against Thomas, others favor him.

"So why does everybody have to bitch about the political stand of Clarence Thomas? He's conservative," wrote Iowa State Daily columnist Chris Romans. "So what? Is he qualified for the job? The (American Bar Association) even said so, and that's really all that matters. George Bush likes him and we elected George Bush to make the decision."

Political analysts expect Thomas' nomination to receive little opposition at the judiciary committee's final vote.

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