Gerhard L. Weinberg, a professor of German history, was head of the faculty Senate at the University of Michigan when he wrote this memo to President Robben W. Fleming at the height of the University's battle with HEW over sex discrimination in employment. Mindful that media reports had suggested that Fleming was working with other university presidents to develop a common response, Weinberg urges Fleming to take the lead "since I am confident that our own judgment of what is proper in this area is likely to be sounder than that of most other universities."
In a subsequent memo (Document 29), Fleming noted that he had consulted with SACUA (the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the faculty Senate's executive body) about creating a women's commission, but "that body did not show any enthusiasm about being involved."
Here Weinberg displayed more concern for the potential impact of the HEW negotiations on the University than he did for the discrimination that his female colleagues may have experienced.
FOR INTRA-UNIVERSITY CORRESPONDENCE
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
December 10, 1970
TO: President Fleming
FROM: Gerhard L. Weinberg
I should like to pass on to you a consideration that should, in my judgment, be before you at the time that we are facing the discussions with HEW on the question of alleged sex discrimination in the University.
It seems to me that in spite of the publicistic and other disadvantages that we may have as a result of being first in line on this one, there is an enormous advantage in being able to try to work out a settlement in accordance with our best judgment rather than being stuck, to all intents and purposes, with whatever has been decided at other universities. Surely if any other institution makes an agreement with HEW that we would consider improper, it would be terribly difficult for us to avoid being shoved into the same corner. Since I am confident that our own judgment of what is proper in this area is likely to be sounder than that of most other universities, it seems to me much preferable that we should be first in line rather than third, fourth or last. This thought should make you feel better about those alert ladies--if they will excuse the expression --who have been responsible for getting us to the head of the line.