On Thursday, March 21, 2002, students from 5 University of California campuses spoke from in front of the UC Office of the President in downtown Oakland demanding that the Regents disarm and democratize the weapons labs. Members of the Coalition to De-Militarize the University of California asserted that the Regents are accountable if the U.S. launches a nuclear attack on Iraq.
Speakers highlighted the UC Nuclear Free Statement of Unity calling for the Regents to get out of the nuclear weapons business, a statement that has been endorsed by over 25 student and community groups in California and New Mexico. A scheduled UC Regents meeting was cancelled early Wednesday, March 20th denying concerned students and community members the opportunity to directly address the Regents regarding their management of labs that research and develop weapons of mass destruction.
One agenda item on the cancelled meeting involved the Regents reporting to the Department of Energy regarding recent security problems, employee fraud, and key resignations at the labs. Following students’ comments, representatives from local news agencies questioned students about their demands and community members shared their thoughts on the significant tax dollars allocated toward weapons research by academic institutions, the environmental impact of the labs on their surrounding communities, and the strikes against Iraq that had begun just the night before.
As a final act, students delivered a letter and list of demands to the Regents’ secretary. In the letter, students requested that the Regents designate time for public comments on weapons research issues during the May 14-15, 2003 Regents meeting at UCLA.
Student Comment Excerpts
…The Militarization of American Society – Why must America go to war? To answer this question we have to look at our institutions, our culture, and our society. We have to look at how our economy functions; War is necessary. We have to look at our culture; our popular films, and mass media; War is an obsession. We have to look at how our politicians deal with problems; War is their answer:
Since 1991 the United States has intervened militarily in dozens of nations. Each time war has been the answer. The US currently sells more weapons than nearly all other nations combined. Our government spends more on its military than the next twenty largest foreign militaries combined. The percentage of US exports that are weapons are 5% of total exports.
Crowning this obsession with violence, this profanity, is our nation’s commitment to nuclear weapons. We have spent over $5 trillion on nuclear weapons. This year we will spend $6.38 billion on nuclear weapons. Our nation has made a renewed commitment to the research, design, and production of weapons of mass destruction…
My name is Valerie Kao. I am a UC Berkeley student and I am against the war!! I am here to express student and faculty sentiments about UC management of the United States nuclear weapons facilities. I want to express that the University of California, my university, is an unfit manager for Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. The most recent news with regards to Los Alamos has exposed credit card fraud and missing equipment, among other scandals. But mismanagement reaches far beyond these headlines. The real issues here are disarmament and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons development. How many of the Regents are aware that laboratory directors, usually people chosen by the Regents, have regularly served as spokespersons for the modernization of nuclear weapons? That some actively sought to obstruct US negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty? Time and again, since it became US law in 1970, the labs and the UC administration have been implicated in violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
…Seeing that the University of California is funded in part by the students and taxpayers, it is unfair to have the blood of innocents on those students and faculty who did not make the decision to manage nuclear weapons labs…It is time for the Uc Regents to e held accountable for their actions. The students of the University of California demand our voices be heard. The UC system is world renowned as an institution of higher learning. The students do not want to indirectly support nuclear weapons development not do we want to procure the stigma as a weapons developer….
…In regards to nuclear weapons, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which became US law in 1970, is the legal keystone in the effort to avoid nuclear holocaust. It requires that all member states pursue in good faith the abolition of their nuclear arsenals….The United States and the University of California stand in clear violation of the NPT….We are waging a war supposedly to disarm Saddam of WMD, while simultaneously threatening to the use of nuclear weapons to accomplish this goal…In this past Monday’s war speech given by President Bush, he stated that: “When evil men plot chemical, biological, and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could rbring destruction of a kind never before seen on this Earth.” Mr. President, we cold not agree with you more, and we are working to change the US policy of proliferation in order that you do not go down in history as this “evil man” of whom you speak…
* The full student comments are available on demand. Contact Tara Dorabji with Tri-Valley CAREs at (925) 443-7148 or Michael Coffey with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation at (805) 965-3443.