DISCRIMINATION AND UNFAIRNESS NOT IDENTICAL

BY KATHY ALLEN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

f you feel your boss is not treating you fairly, it could be just that -- unfair treatment -- but not necessarily illegal discrimination.

Wilma Scott, who is an enforcement unit supervisor for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, spoke Friday at a seminar on racial discrimination in the workplace.

The seminar, sponsored by the Black Leadership Network at UH, was attended by about 65 staff and faculty members and focused on the difference between illegal discrimination and unfair treatment.

"Equal opportunity has nothing to do with my being treated unfairly," Scott said.

Many of the people who come to the EEOC believe they have been discriminated against, when, in fact, they have been unfairly treated, Scott said, citing several examples:

A black female charges that her supervisor treats her abusively, but the EEOC discovers the supervisor treats everyone in the work group unfairly. While it may be in the company's best interest to discipline the supervisor, it is not an issue of illegal discrimination.

A black male and a white male, both equally qualified for a promotion, are passed over in favor of a less qualified white male. Since both the black male and the white male have been treated unfairly, the evidence does not suggest racial discrimination.

A 55-year-old male claims he was laid off from his job because of his age. But other younger employees were also laid off at the same time. Again, illegal discrimination may not have occurred.

When a person files a claim with the EEOC, a federal investigator will help a person determine if there is any basis under the law for proceeding with the charge, Scott said.

If there is a basis, a brief statement of the charge is sent to the company or institution, and a response will be requested. Documents may be subpoenaed and witnesses may be interviewed, she said.

When witnesses are crucial to the case, Scott stressed the importance of having cooperative witnesses. The EEOC cannot compel a witness to cooperate. Witnesses can make or break a case, especially in sexual harassment cases, she said.

If the EEOC establishes that a person has been the victim of illegal discrimination, then the EEOC can demand that the company rectify the situation and, in some cases, supply punitive damages.

But Scott warned that the EEOC can act only if a person files a complaint with them within 300 days of the "date of harm."

If a person files with the EEOC while proceeding through the formal grievance process of one's company or institution, the EEOC will step back and proceed only if the person feels the issue is not satisfactorily resolved.

Scott warned young people to pick their battles carefully.

"Pick the ones that you have the best chance of winning," Scott said. "Know that it's worth that kind of effort."

 

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ACTIVIST RIGHTS GROUP REACTIVATED

BY DANA DURBIN

NEWS REPORTER

After almost two years of being inactive at UH, the National Organization for Women is reorganizing and regrouping.

The president pro tempore of UH-NOW, Frank San Miguel, said he was led to reorganize the UH chapter when he was contacted by the national organization. But more than that, San Miguel said the interest on campus for issues such as sexual harassment and date rape made the climate right for an organization like UH-NOW to reactivate.

"I saw a bumper sticker that said `Civil Rights or Civil War.' That sums up what we are about. Now is the time for NOW," San Miguel said.

The revitalized group will be focusing on equal rights for women, gay and lesbian rights, reproductive freedom and violence against women, San Miguel said at a Jan. 28 meeting. The organization has set up task forces to deal with these and other issues.

One of the task forces is the campus studies group, chaired by Melissa Stewart and Troy Christenson.

"The campus studies group is like a watchdog for anything on campus that is anti-women," said Stewart, who is also the historian for the group.

In addition, the campus studies group is concerned with equal rights for lesbians and gays, and will be working closely with the task force for homosexuals' rights, Stewart said.

NOW also considers the task force for political action extremely important because this is an election year, Stewart said.

"One of the main concerns is always getting people registered to vote," Stewart said.

Other task forces will combat racism, reproductive freedom and violent crimes against women, such as date rape and sexual harassment. Activities have been planned for all task forces to raise awareness and fight the issues.

Stewart said NOW will work closely with other campus groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Student Association, the Progressive Student Network and the Council of Ethnic Organizations.

Any event with three sponsors is more successful and cost-effective because it will reach a wider range of students and be able to put together more funds, Stewart said.

Money is a big concern for NOW because the group has been inactive for two years. Most of the money will come from dues paid by new members, along with other fund-raising activities, such as selling bumper stickers and buttons, Stewart said.

The Jan. 28 meeting attracted a crowd who said they were tired of suffering from discriminatory practices.

"What really got me was when I read that women earn 63 cents for every dollar that a man earns, no matter how hard or well they do their job," Stewart said.

Student Ila Thomas saw a flier on campus and decided to go to the first meeting.

"I'll definitely be joining NOW. I like the wide focus of the organization," Thomas said.

Her main concerns are reproductive freedom and violence against women. She said she became concerned with violence against women after she was the victim of date rape.

"I blamed myself at first. I didn't even tell anyone for two years. I finally told my best friend and she said, `You know you were raped, don't you?'" Thomas said.

Several other women at the meeting expressed similar experiences, and one woman said that practically every woman she knows has been the victim of violence or harassment.

However, it is not only women who are joining NOW. There are already several men who are members, and several men were at the meeting.

"The causes we represent aren't for the benefit of women only," Stewart said.

The organization is open to students and faculty alike, and to anyone else who wants to pay the dues to the UH chapter, even those who are not affiliated with UH.

Membership in the UH chapter of NOW also means membership in the national organization, which receives a portion of the dues paid, and also sends out a newsletter to all the members, San Miguel said.

The campus chapter will elect officers at a Feb. 25 meeting, San Miguel said.

 

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DUKE DEBATE FIZZLED AT MOST U.S. COLLEGES

BY COUGAR NEWS SERVICE

Aside from a few sharp exchanges, the debate about David Duke's unsuccessful campaign for governor of Louisiana was quiet on most college campuses.

"Students were pretty much sideliners, noting with interest what happened," said a spokesman at Alabama A&M University.

Many student groups outside Louisiana didn't take action for or against Duke simply because they didn't think his campaign had a direct effect on them.

The closest thing to a public show of support outside the state was a solitary sign hung at the University of North Alabama prior to the election that read, "David Duke for President. It's a White Thing, you Wouldn't Understand." The banner was quickly torn down.

Student newspapers, however, wrote numerous columns and printed several letters to the editor about the former Ku Klux Klansman and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

"The liberal Democrats on this campus and throughout the country say they are for free speech and equal rights, but they would rather shove their liberal views down our throats and label anyone who speaks in an opposing manner as a racist or a conspirator against minorities. ...I respect other people's views if they can support them, and these blind attacks on David Duke are not supported," wrote David Wilson and Steve Bennett in a University of California-Santa Barbara newspaper column.

Another favorable Duke column appeared in the University of Southwestern Louisiana's student newspaper.

"The suggestion that David Duke is unchangeable has continuously been a device to lure support toward another candidate," writes Paul Angelle. "Hugo Black, regarded as one of the greatest liberal thinkers of our time, served on the United States Supreme Court. Black is also a former Klansman."

A different opinion appeared in another column on the same page.

"I am not sure if Duke's past has been cleaned,"writes Maggie Perrodin. "Last year, I saw a segment on CNN's Sonya Live in which a Klanswoman plainly stated, `Once you are a Klan, you're always a Klan.' There is also a Nazi threat."

And this, from the University of Minnesota: "Plainly, the Duke phenomenon is not entirely explained by or limited to the crazy political environment that is Louisiana," writes columnist Aron Pilhofer. "He is the logical result of years of race-baiting politics on the part of Reagan and Bush. In some sick way, I'm almost sorry (almost, that is) that David Duke lost. A Duke lost. A Duke victory in Louisiana would have been the most deserved, not to mention unexpected, Christmas present George Bush has ever received.

"Every time George Bush looked at Gov. David Duke, he would be looking at the monster he had a hand in creating. Every time Gov. Duke opened his mouth, Bush would have to suffer the code words for racism -- quotas, affirmative action, welfare -- that he had coined."

Duke can now be seen as Bush's opposition in the Republican race for president.

 

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IGNORANCE BLAMED, NOT DISCRIMINATION

BY KATHY ALLEN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

UH has come a long way in its effort to eliminate racial discrimination, UH Human

Resource Department interim Director Sara Goodwin said.

Goodwin, who spoke Friday at a racial discrimina-

tion seminar sponsored by the Black Leadership Network, described the phases UH has passed through during the past 26 years as it addressed the civil rights of blacks.

Goodwin was hired in 1965 as an interviewer in the newly created UH personnel office and was charged with addressing issues pointed out in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

She described herself as a wide-eyed, liberal college graduate who was ready to integrate the work force, but was quickly jolted into reality when she discovered there were red-necked Ph.D.s.

"They did not know that they were red-necked Ph.D.s. At that time, it was an intellectual snobbery,

and it was ignorance," Goodwin said.

Shortly after she started her new job, one dean's office told her, "We'd love to hire one of these black candidates that you've sent over here because we certainly want to obey the law, but we only have one restroom."

Then UH moved into a phase when everyone began to jump on the integration bandwagon. Goodwin dubbed this the "Lena Horne phase" and described how well-meaning supervisors would ask her to "find me a real attractive black candidate."

When UH moved into the third phase, Goodwin contended with comments such as, "Well, I'd really hire more black workers, but you know how hard it is to fire one."

Goodwin pointed out that, in spite of these examples, "There were an awful lot of people who did good things during those times." Eventually, people's consciousness was raised, and the university staff became more diversified.

Today, Goodwin realizes there is still some racial discrimination on campus, albeit more subtle, but she also sees blacks becoming good ol' boys themselves through networking.

One indicator supporting Goodwin's observation is the absence of formal complaints of racial discrimination filed with the affirmative action office during the past year, affirmative action Director Dorothy Caram said.

 

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GRANT MAY LEAD TO PROGRESS IN FIGHT AGAINST CANCER, AIDS

BY CLAY CARPENTER

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A $600,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation will enable the UH Institute for Molecular Design (IMD) to establish a laboratory to study the movement of atoms and molecules in fluid.

In December, the Keck Foundation made the grant for the purchase of equipment for a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy laboratory. The lab will enhance IMD's ability to research the behavior of proteins, possibly leading to new treatments for cancer and AIDS, IMD Assistant Director Mike Hudson said.

The lab will be outfitted with a 500 megahertz NMR spectroscopy instrument, which uses magnets to acquire structural data about molecules in solutions, Hudson said.

"Ideally, you want to do simulations of real systems. Some molecules naturally exist in solutions inside our cells," he said. "It's a good way to test our theories."

UH scientists have constructed computer models of how pieces of nucleic acids can bind to DNA to possibly treat cancer and AIDS, IMD Director Andrew McCammon said in a prepared statement.

The NMR spectroscopy instrument will be applied to molecules now being synthesized at Baylor College of Medicine to test the computer models, McCammon said.

The new equipment will aid UH scientists in the search for cures for AIDS and the common cold by expediting the development of drugs that inhibit expression of viral genes and enzymes, he said.

NMR spectroscopy is considered an original approach to the study of molecular structure, McCammon said. A Swiss scientist won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in NMR spectroscopy.

The NMR lab will complement the IMD's X-ray crystallography lab, which was created with a $400,000 Keck Foundation grant in 1988.

The X-ray crystallography lab allows scientists to examine proteins in crystal form to determine how they are structured. The process has produced major advances in drug design.

"Most campuses that want to have a major biochemical program need to have both X-ray crystallography and (NMR spectroscopy)," IMD protein crystallographer Kurt Krause said.

 

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RENOUNED ANGELOU TO GIVE LECTURE AT UH-D

BY ERICKA SCHICHE

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Award-winning author Maya Angelou will lecture Thursday at the UH-Downtown Ballroom -- the only scheduled appearance during her Houston visit.

"An Evening With Maya Angelou" is sponsored by the Tenneco and Enron Corporations as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.

Born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Mo., to Bailey and Vivian Baker Johnson, Angelou -- whose given name is Marguerite Johnson -- has seen and experienced enough hardships and triumphs to fill volumes of works.

Her autobiographical works, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin' and Swingin', Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976) and The Heart of a Woman (1981), give the reader an opportunity to peer into the same strife-torn world often seen by the woman with almond-shaped eyes.

In The Heart of a Woman, Angelou chronicles a memorable encounter between herself and the late singer Billie Holiday. "You better say Jow, cause you sure don't know," Holiday said in response to Angelou's declaration of identity as an entertainer -- a statement that infuriated her to the point to contemplating "how to get the woman and her hostility out of my house."

In a night club, near the end of her stay in Angelou's home, Holiday spoke words of prophecy: "You're going to be famous. But it won't be for singing."

Angelou has indeed become famous, not only for her writings, which also include a Pulitzer Prize-nominated volume of poetry titled Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water `Fore I Die, but also for her work in the dramatic arts, education and the civil rights movement.

At the request of Martin Luther King Jr., she took the reins as northern coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Angelou then traveled to Africa, where she served as associate editor of the Arab Observer, based in Cairo, Egypt, and from 1963 to 1966 as an assistant administrator for the School of Music and Drama at the University of Ghana Institute of African Studies.

Angelou's endeavors have also taken her to the stage and into the homes of millions of television viewers. She appeared throughout Europe as a premier dancer in the touring company of the musical Porgy and Bess.

Cabaret for Freedom, a play written by Angelou, featured such highly acclaimed black actors as Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Brown, James Earl Jones and Lou Gossett on its opening night in 1960. She also wrote an adaptation to Sophocles' play Ajax.

In 1973, she received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Look Away.

Angelou has also parlayed her experiences and wisdom into an extensive career as educator and speaker. She was the first Reynolds Professor (a distinguished title) of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

She currently teaches a course titled "King: A study of the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." Robert Shorter, coordinator of humanities and a professor of English at Wake Forest, said he helps Angelou schedule her classes each semester and describes her as having a "dynamic presence."

Her lecture, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will be followed by a reception.

 

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