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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 14, 1973)
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Pei University is Lincoln's
greatest architectural resource
I.M. Pei, internationally known architect,
spoke Tuesday to UNL students about the
changes that teaching methods of
architecture have undergone.
The 61-year-old Harvard graduate
described architecture as a "multi-discipline
art" and disagreed with the idea that, in
architecture, form must follow function.
"Today," Pei said, "we look upon
architecture in a totally different way than
when I was learning." He said three ideas are
incorporated in current architectural
planning: the art, the science and the politics
The major part of the program was a
question and answer session in which
students asked Pei's opinion of Lincoln's
Pei, who is designing the new National
Bank of Commerce, said the University is
Lincoln's greatest architectural resource. He
anticipates "drawing the University into the
downtown area" with the bank's
A native of China, Pei said Lincoln "is so
safe that young people walk around at
Pei said he feels individual factors of a
city have a bearing on the types of buildings
constructed within it. "You must work to
capture and maximize each situation," he
Having worked mostly with urban
renewal, Pei says he believes that people
need space. Plans for the new bank include
an open space which he said will be for the
In designing any structure, Pei said he
favors two or three people working on the
initial design. "People need to bounce their
ideas off one another," he said. "From
conversation comes approach and out of
approach comes possible solutions."
Dignity league trying to make life more normal
When Nancy Erickson answers the telephone, it
may take her a few seconds longer.
Not because the phone isn't within reach or that
she doesn't like talking to people. It's because
Erickson suffers from polio. She has to handle the
receiver from a wheelchair and with metal hand
Erickson, a counselor at the Lincoln
Rehabilitation Services Center, finds jobs for other
handicapped people and the funds to send them to
She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a
master's degree in educational psychology.
But Erickson is an individual case. And of the 10
to 15 per cent of Lincoln's population that is
permanently disabled, many have things other than
answering the telephone to worry about. Things like
job discrimination, transportation and public apathy.
That's why Erickson, in addition to her full-time
job, is president of a group of Lincolnites called the
League of Human Dignity.
Formed in May 1971, the league has about 40
members. Sixty per cent of the group is physicall
disabled. Ages of members range from 18 to 60.
The group's long-range goal is making life for the
disabled more normal and to equalize their chances at
employment, she said. But there are preliminary
obstacles to tackle, she added.
Adequate transportation is one, Erickson said, and
this became the League's first priority about a year
Unlike most persons, she said, many handicapped
people cannot drive a car and cannot climb the stairs
of city buses. Therefore, many rely on friends or on
taxis, which can become expensive. What they need is
their own set of buses, specially designed for the
disabled, Erickson said.
A year ago, league members applied for and
received a demonstration grant through the Lincoln
City Council. The grant, if federally approved, would
supply them with buses for a year, Erickson said.
But to apply for the grant they first had to raise
$10,000 in two weeks to show there was community
interest, she said. They raised $12,025.
The three buses that were requested were recently
approved in Washington and will arrive next week. If
at the end of the year they are successful, the Lincoln
Transportation System (LTS) will take over operating
"But once they (the disabled) get out, they have
to be able to get in," UNL student Kurt Andrews
added. Andrews was the league's Nebraska
Organization for Volunteers in Action (NOVA)
volunteer from September 1971 to September 1972.
"Getting in" refers to entering buildings, Andrews
said. Flights of steps, heavy doors or narrow
doorways may be inconveniences for
non-handicapped persons, but for the disabled
architectural barriers can mean not having a steady
A Nebraska law passed in 1965 requires that all
new buildings after that time be accessible to the
physically handicapped. Erickson said it's a "great
law," but that it is rarely enforced.
She cited the Lincoln County-City Building as an
example. Despite minimal efforts, it is still
inaccessible for the physically handicapped. The
ramps are too steep and to enter, a handicapped
person must go several blocks out of his way,
The league currently is conducting a survey of 200
Lincoln buildings and also is preparing a booklet of
"ammunition" against contractors and builders,
called "Lincoln for the Disabled". It will explain the
details of making buildings accessible to the
If informing individual offenders is one goal.
members of society," Erickson said.
Erickson described the league as a
"consciousness-raising" experience. The group is
unique because of the combination of disabilities
among the members-multiple sclerosis, polio,
deafness, cerebral palsy and others.
Erickson said she hopes the league will eventually
attempt to reform employment practices.
She said she didn't know how many of Lincoln's
disabled are fully employed now, but she said it's a
I' M : t I j. :-i
n --ktiJ&ffi 41.
League of Hurmn Dignity President Nancy Erickson . . . said the group members want
normal life, not therapy.
educating the average citizen about the diabled is
another, Erickson said.
Despite the league's accomplishments, like any
other new group, it has new-group problems,
She said one is interest, Overall attitude of the
members is split between two groups, she said. On
one side are the "well-adjusted" who are willing to
keep trying, but there are also those she called the
bitter who "think the world owes them a living."
But, according to Andrews, the real problem was
in getting the group off to a start.
When the group began in May it had 50 members,
but when an Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO)
fund request was denied in June, interest fell and
members quit. In September, Andrews said he found
himself among a discouraged group of about 12
What they needed most was a person like himself
who could work full-time, he said. Andrews was the
group's "community organizer," he said, doing
whatever he could wherever he could.
The first problem he said, was the meetings. "It's
easy to get together and complain about your
problems," he said. "But they had no plan of attack,
It is a self-defeating, stay-at-home attitude that
harms handicapped people most, according to both
Erickson and Andrews.
"There's no reason they can't all be contributing
A bill which would include the physically and
mentally handicapped in the fair employment act will
be presented to the Legislature soon. Passage would
make employe discrimination against the
Both Andrews and Erickson stressed the
independence and self-pride of the group.
"In general, volunteers come here with the idea, 'I
want to help you'", Erickson said. "This is fine, but
we're not interested in therapy."
Andrews said the group has been described as
"radical" and "militant."
"It's aggressive," he admitted. But he said the
names are probably because the group tries to keep
close tabs on what other groups are doing for the
disabled. For example, he said, a while ago Lincoln
tried to build a horseback-riding academy for the
disabled. The league, opposed to the idea, has
managed to postpone action.
"It was their (the city's) 'good' idea," he said,
"but they didn't try to contact the disabled
Despite the legislative, "social-activist" attitude of
the League of Human Dignity, it's the "human
dignity" role in the eyes of the average citizen that is
hardest- and most important to put across.
"People tend to equate physical disability with
mental disability," Andrews said. "But they're not
helpless and they're not touched in the head...
They're just like regular people."
Wednesday, march 13, 1973
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