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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 18, 1983)
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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March 18, 1C33
Vol. 82, No. 127
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By Lori Sullivan
For inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, time
has a special meaning. They seem to monitor it
unconsciously and generally agree that what they make of
their "time in" is up to them.
More than 100 inmates choose to spend part of that
time taking college classes. Through Southeast
Community College, classes for associate degrees in
business and general studies are taught in the education
building on the penitentiary groups.
Inmates say two basic types of education are available
inside the prison - academic and criminal .
"If I would not have had the opportunity to go to
school here, I would probably be a worse person when I
leave," inmate Ed Sodders said. "There are so many
authorities on bad things here, that if you wanted to,
you could become very good at a lot of them. But if you
keep your head into something that is good and
productive, that's the way you want to go."
Sodders has 62 credit hours toward a business degree
and would like to complete a bachelor's when lie gets out.
Academic courses give inmates something else to turn to
and allow them to get the right type of education, he
Most classes are set up to match the same courses at
UNL, generally using the same textbook and format.
Sodders said knowing that he is on the same level as
UNL students is encouraging.
"If we know we're taking equivalent courses, we know
that we can go right into college and make it," He said.
Sodders is serving a 1 5- to 30- year sentence for first
degree attempted murder. He said he usually holds his
course work down to six or eight credit hours each term
term, trying to spread his classes out over a longer time.
The first college course Sodders took was "terrible"
at the beginning and getting back into the study habit was
ditficult , he said. He added that some aspects of prison
life make attending classes harder than it would be on
"One day you can be riding high and the next day you
can be down low and you don't want to go to class - it's
Sometimes the classes are much harder than expected,
and prisoners fear they will fail, he said. Others take too
many classes at once and can't keep up.
The penitentiary's administration strongly supports
the college program, Sodders said.
"I think they see that education can't help but make
a person better - he will understand more things - no
matter when he gets out."
Sodders said people on the outside should realize that
a penitentiary also can be a resource.
"Everybody in here is not an animal although we do
have some - but there is also a tremendous amount of
knowledge here that can be used," he said.
Continued on Page 2
Staff photos by Craig Andresen
From top: Inmates Ed Sodders. left, and Paul Thompson;
Wayne Womack; and Chico Watkins.
By Lori Sullivan
Being inside of a prison is no excuse for losing touch
with events occurring outside its walls, said David Rice.
People who made the effort to keep up when they were
outside, he said, will continue to be informed and in
terested no matter where they are.
Rice is serving a life sentence at the Nebraska State
Penitentiary. He was convicted of first-degree murder.
To keep up on his educational interests, he said he
reads many different newspapers and magazines, takes
classes and writes professionally.
"My attitude has been not to let the penitentiary
interrupt my life or change who I am," Rice said. "I
have never accepted this place as being my home 1
live in Omaha."
"It's very important to me to be aware at all times
of things that are going on," he said. "I think it's pro
bably true that people who are locked up and don't
pay that much attention to things going on in the rest
of the world didn't pay that much attention before they
got locked up."
In many cases that same attitude has a lot to do with
the reasons why they now are locked up, he said. People
who isolate themselves see their actions and situations"
in a vacuum," he said, and may be more likely to commit
crimes lor tnose reasons.
Although Rice completed an associate degree in
general studies through the prison education program,
he said he only took the courses because he wanted to,
not to obtain a degree.
"To me the process of learning and developing your
own insights is sufficient on its own, so I didn't care if
I got a degree or not," he said.
Rice said his main interest is in humanities studies,
especially writing classes. Before he came to the pen
itentiary, Rice attended Creighton University in Omaha
and considered becoming an English teacher. He has
written poetry since he was 18 and has had five volumes
of his work published.
"To me, when you educate somebody, you not only
provide information, but you give a person a framework
by which that person can develop the ability to think
things out - to question, to challenge and to come to
conclusions," he said.
Rice is taking a directed reading course taught by
Garnett Larson, a volunteer literature instructor. He
said he enjoys the class and has taken several other classes
"There are times when we'll sit here and battle each
other over an issue and never come to any agreement,
but we respect each other's point of view."
Continued on Page 2
lefflt ssnnme Gneire, Czech pirotfessor Hikes state
By Eric Peterson
A professor on exchange from the Charles
University in Prague, Czechoslovakia, said he has found
an interested and interesting Czech community in
"I'm conducting a really huge correspondence,"
Zdenek Stary said with a laugh. Stary said he is help
ing a family near Stewart, that no longer speaks Czech,
communicate with relatives in Czechoslovakia who
don't understand English.
About 80,000 people in Omaha, or about 30
percent of the population, have some Czech ancestry.
Some smaller Nebraska towns, like Wilber and
Schuyler, have primarily Czech populations. Stary
said that unlike some ethnic groups, Czechs don't
seem to have shortened or Anglicized their family
"I read the names in a phone book, and it looks
like a Czech town," he said.
Stary is in Lincoln on a Fulbright grant to pursue
his linguistic interests. He taught Czech linguistics
and literature at the 600-year-old Charles University,
the fourth-oldest university in Europe.
Stary said the frulbright program otticials chose
the place where he would teach and research. Ralph
Albanese Jr., interim vice chairman of the UNL
Modern Languages and Literatures Department, said
the officials narrowed the choice to Texas and Ne
braska, but settled on Nebraska, possibly because of
"administration support and a deeper and wider
tradition" of Czech culture in Lincoln.
Because Stary is here as part of a professor
exchange, a woman from Chicago is teaching now in
Albanese said both the United States and the
Eastern European governments seem eager to make
these cultural exchanges because of the goodwill
they help create.
"1 think in political terms the value is great . . .
The ice was broken, the diplomatic ties were made "
Stary's Fulbright grant is for one year, which ends
next January. However, he hopes to extend it another
year. His wite, Olga, who is finishing art history studies
at Charles University, soon will join him in Lincoln.
Stary teaches both at UNL and UNO. Twice a week
he teaches a course in Slavic culture at UNL, then
hurries back to Omaha to teach at UNO. Although his
schedule is rushed, "it's fun, it's working," he said.
Stary looks forward to teaching Modern Languages
282, Czech Literature in Translation, next fall.
Albanese said he hopes this and other classes will
lead to a permanent Czech department at UNL He
said that with further administrative and local support,
Lincoln could become a permanent center of Czech
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