Page 12


“The groundswell of support surpassed our wildest expectations. But we can’t stop now. We just decided to start this thing and we’re going to keep going until the end of the semester.” The students were supported by editorials in the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, which charged that the UT administrators “were unable to think beyond a policy manual.” UT official Ron Brown responded with a column in the Texan saying, “The university will continue to work to guarantee the right of free expression. But it will also continue to provide a reasonable and moderate regulation of time, place and manner [of the protests]. . . ” THE 42 STUDENTS who were arrested on April 11 were back on the west mall the following Friday. They stood with hands behind their backs and bandanas around their mouths, in protest of the UT restrictions. Meanwhile the crowd grew larger and larger. UT police immediately began arresting the leaders and speakers, but students poured onto the west mall steps faster than the small crew of a dozen police officers could cart them away. By the end of the protest, two professors and 180 students had been arrested and detained at the administration building and Gregory Gym. “I have said in the past I have said this many times that this campus is rife with apathy. I’ll never say it again,” said Greg Milnor. But with the summer break fast approaching, he said time was working against the students’ attempts to get the university to move on divestment. The students hope to get the regents to add the free speech and apartheid issues to their agenda for their June 4 Austin meeting. There may be more hope for challenging the university restrictions on protest than in getting the UT system to budge on South Africa investments. The regents voted in December of 1984 and again this year against divestment. Ronald Brown of UT says the courts have consistently upheld the right of universities to restrict speech on campus. But lawyers for the students say the present rules may violate the rights of free speech and assembly. “I think the First Amendment is different from all of the other amendments by its very language,” said Brian East, the coordinator of 14 lawyers who are working for the students \(including the Central the administration can probably restrict speech on campus., but it’s going to have to be in the very least restrictive way possible and still allow classes and business to go on,” East said. The students are waiting for UT to take disciplinary action before a suit is filed challenging the rules. East says the university has taken a heavy-handed approach to students’ political activity, from the time in the early ’50s when students weren’t allowed to bring in outside political speakers to campus, to the late ’60s when the present rules were drawn up in reaction to anti-war protests. As more than 200 arrested students can now testify, progress sometimes comes slowly to the university. Harlingen WHEN GOVERNOR Mark White arrived in Harlingen March 17, he encountered both friendly and hostile faces. The warm reception was provided by 2,000 Valley Interfaith delegates. Meanwhile, outside Assumption Catholic Church parish hall, guarded by Harlingen police and Texas Rangers, 200 angry public school teachers, still irate over having to take the TECAT competency test mandated by House Bill 72, held signs warning White they will “remember” TECAT at election time. At the Interfaith assembly, White promised Interfaith delegates he would make sure no cuts are made in the state’s indigent health care programs to be funded at a $70 million level by the state legislature. He promised at least $2 million in additional funds will be channeled to colonias to improve their infrastructure. So far $8 million has been channeled for colonia development Scott Lind is a reporter for the McAllen Monitor. through the Texas Department of Community Affairs, he said. Also at the Interfaith assembly, Atty. Gen. Jim Mattox promised that the estimated 40,000 first graders entering Texas schools who speak only Spanish will not be required to take an Englishlanguage TEAMS \(Texas Educational was an issue that had been pushed by Valley Interfaith. According to Juan Sanchei, a leader of Valley Interfaith from Brownsville, most of the first graders who enter school speaking only Spanish are instructed principally in Spanish under the Bilingual Education Act. These youngsters would be “doomed to fail” the TEAMS test mandated by HB 72 for students in oddnumbered grades. Sanchez said the results of such tests in the Valley would do “psychological damage to the children, their families, and their school districts.” Valley Interfaith worked with several area school districts to try to find an alternative to the test, which is designed to measure the acquisition of basic learning skills. On behalf of the districts and Valley Interfaith, state Rep. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, requested an attorney general’s opinion on the matter. Hinojosa said the test “would not be an accurate reflection of the child’s learning nor would it do justice to [their] teachers.” Mattox ruled that the students could have an extension until an appropriate test is designed for their language abilities. Several Valley school districts have developed their own pilot tests, and the Texas Education Agency is working on one as well. MEANWHILE, Harlingen’s 200 teachers protesting outside were only the tip of a political iceberg for White and other incumbent elected officials who supported House Bill 72. The Starr County Educators Political Action Association counts on the support of several hundred teachers and administrators who have banded together against a governor they consider to have been unsympathetic to teacher needs. In Cameron and Hidalgo counties, another independent teacher association, calling itself “We Are the Force,” has sprung up. Within two weeks, We Are the Force attracted more than 1,200 educators to its public gatherings. Force organizer Ruth Perez, a sixth-grade Mission teacher, promises that Force numbers will continue to grow as Force representatives in school districts across the Valley urge more teachers to unite and force changes in House Bill 72. Perez turned down an opportunity Of Valley Schools and Teachers By Scott Lind THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15