Demil guide 2005

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A Guide to the Demilitarization of America's Youth and Students(pdf)

By the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, 2005

Cover to 2005 Demil guide

 


Table of Contents

  Universities of Mass Destruction 2-3
  Prioritize Education, Not Military Spending! 4-5
  Nuclear Hot-Spots and How to Get Involved 6
  The Ivory Tower; 99.44% Militarized?: A Brief Look the Military-Academic Complex 7-8
  We Almost Won! The 1988-89 Student Campaign to End Military Weapons Research at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst 10-11
  Case Study: The William Social Choice Fund 12
  JROTC: A Primer 13
  Demilitarizing an Urban Inner City High School: What Does it Take? 14-15
  Interview with Gay Marine and Conscientious Objector 16
  Intelligence in Higher Education Ain't What it Used to Be 18
  From Vieques to the University of Puerto Rico: The Struggle Continues 20
  Informational, Cut-out Flyers on Civil Liberties 21-22
  Surveillance in Schools 23
  Suits and Spooks: How to Research, Expose, and Challenge Military & Corporate Influence on Your Campus 24-25
  The Militarization and Military Recruitment of Youth 26-27
  Offensive Biology: Bioterror Labs on Campus 28-29
  Anthrax on Campus: A Primer on Identifying University Bioweapons Research 30
  "Opt-out" Form 32

 

 
Top

Universities of Mass Destruction

By Tara Dorabji and Will Parrish
Pages 2-3

Editor's Note: While this article focuses on the University of California and its ties to two nuclear laboratories, many other universities around the country have ties to nuclear weapons and energy facilities. Not all schools directly manage nuclear weapons labs, but many have waste facilities, power plants, or nuclear engineering programs that are either affiliated with the school or are located nearby. Check the map on [pg.4] to see if you live or go to school near a nuclear hot spot.

GET INVOLVED

Below are ways you can get involved.

1. Counter Recruit: When Livermore Lab and Los Alamos - or any other nuclear group - comes to your school, attend the career fairs and educate potential employees about nuclear weapons and "stockpile stewardship."

2. Protest Nuclear Weapons: August 6 and 9, 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the US there will be a national day of protest on August 6 at nuclear weapons sites across the country, including major protests at the Nevada Test Site, Livermore Lab and the Y-12 facility at Oak Ridge.

3. Educate About Nuclear Weapons: The Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California is creating curriculum for a student-led, student-taught course on nuclear weapons and education to be taught in Spring 2005.

4. Join Us: For more information on UT Nuclear Free and the Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California connect with us at:

- UT Nuclear Free: utnukefree.org or utwatch.org

-Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California: fiatpax.net and ucnuclearfree.org.

For more information, contact Tara at (925) 443-7148 or by email at: tara@trivalleycares.org, www.trivalleycares.org.

UC Logo

If American public universities are the lifeblood of the US nuclear weapons complex, the heart is undoubtedly the University of California, manager of two of the primary nuclear design labs in the country.

Dating from the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal was designed by a UC employee, either at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico or Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) in California. UC's official stance is that operating the labs is a "public service," which helps to "enlighten, educate, and train students and teachers at all levels" and contributes to our "national security." From behind this rhetorical fig leaf, the ugly reality of university-nuclear collaboration becomes apparent. The day after the atomic bomb exploded on Hiroshima in 1945, Ernest Lawrence, a prominent research scientist for Los Alamos for whom Livermore Lab was named, issued a statement saying, "The atomic bombs will surely shorten the war, and, let us hope, they will effectively end war as a possibility in human affairs."

Fifty-nine years, hundreds of wars, and dozens of US military interventions abroad later, it's clear that Lawrence's forecast was gut-wrenchingly wrong. With the US entering into a dangerous new phase of nuclear weapons development, the questions regarding UC management of the labs have become even more pressing: Is managing a highly-secretive, classified weapons lab really a "public service?" Doesn't the creation of nuclear weapons jeopardize the academic integrity of the entire institution, while making the UC responsible for the labs' tremendous problems?

Schooling Nukes

The issues surrounding UC's management of LLNL and LANL are complex. To the Department of Energy (DOE), the University of California is a fertile field from which to pluck a new generation of weaponeers. For example, Livermore Lab has specifically cited the UC relationship as important to recruiting and retaining top scientists. Through research grants and intern ships, LLNL enlists the ser vices of a steady stream of young UC graduates. While the DOE mines the brain power of UC students and alumni, UC secures a steady stream of research dollars. In 2001, the UC enjoyed 542 research collaborations with LLNL. At all other universities in California combined, LLNL helped fund only 155 research projects and grants. Still, UC gains no direct financial benefits from management; the Department of Energy gives the UC a management fee and any money that the school doesn't use rolls over into the lab's annual budget. The environmental, social, and humanitarian costs to the nation and the world, however, are incalculable.

In 2005, $6.6 billion was requested for nuclear weapons activities by the DOE, of which nearly $3 billion is allocated to LLNL and LANL. Well over 80 percent of LLNL's budget is dedicated to weapons activities.

International Lawbreakers

Across the country, students recruited by LANL and LLNL are funneled into the deceptively named "Stockpile Stewardship Program" (SSP). Under the SSP, scientists are designing new and modified nuclear weapons, while systematically upgrading every nuclear weapon design in the US arsenal.

The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator - a new nuclear weapon under design at LLNL and LANL - is a variable-yield weapon that would, in theory, burrow into the ground to destroy targets. However, the device would still spew up clouds of radioactive dust that would remain radioactive for periods ranging from several days to hundreds of thousands of years.

The continued research and design of new nuclear weapons at the labs is a gross violation of the US' commitment to international law - in particular, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which commits the US, to total and complete disarmament in a timely fashion - and is part of an explicitly offensive US nuclear policy that aims to integrate nuclear weapons into conventional war-fighting scenarios.

Contaminating Communities

The histories of LLNL and LANL are characterized by leaks, spills and accidents that have caused serious contamination to the labs and surrounding communities. The water and soil near both labs are extremely contaminated, resulting from over a half-century of on-site work designing and testing bomb components. The DOE has declared that each lab affects the population in a 50-mile radius around each facility. In Livermore, this area includes over seven million people, spanning from San Francisco to Berkeley to Silicon Valley. In New Mexico, the radius stretches around eight indigenous pueblos.

In California, LLNL is a Superfund site, on Congress' list of the most contaminated areas in the country. LLNL has released over a million curies (a radiological unit) of air-borne radiation, roughly equal to the amount deposited in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Employees at LLNL have become ill or died from on-the-job exposure to radiation, beryllium and myriad other poisonous substances. Over 1,000 claims have been filed by LLNL employees, former employees and employee family members for compensation due to illness or death related to their work.

Nuclear Weapons: A Nonprofit Enterprise?!

Due to UC's nonprofit status it is exempt from certain fees, taxes and fines as manager of the nuclear weapons labs. For example, when a contractor violates DOE safety guidelines, the contractor is fined. However, UC is exempt from these fines. In addition, UC is exempt from certain state taxes. If Los Alamos were managed by a for-profit corporation like Lockheed Martin, the State of New Mexico would gain roughly $50- 60 million in additional tax revenue.

Bidding for Armageddon

As controversy around US nuclear weapons policy and security at the labs mounts, the UC will have to enter into competitive bidding to continue managing Livermore and Los Alamos Labs. The contract for UC's management of LANL expires in September 2005. However, the DOE has extended its contract for LLNL until 2007. By all indications, the UC is poised to bid for LANL, despite major security lapses.

In July 2004, the UC was humiliated - and not for the first time - when multiple computer discs containing classified information were lost from LANL. Classified weapons work was suspended across the complex. Subsequently, Lockheed Martin announced it would not bid to manage LANL, stating that it would be too costly. The University of Texas, Bechtel and UC are among the contenders who have submitted an Expression of Interest in the bid for LANL.

UC's hold on LANL has always been much more tenuous than its hold on Livermore Lab. It is clear that both labs are fraught with ethical, environmental, economic and legal problems. Preparing to bid for either of the labs would cost the UC millions of dollars. The question of "if not UC, then who?" has long clouded the debate surrounding the management of the labs. Would Bechtel or the University of Texas be any better than UC? Should any university be involved in the design of nuclear weapons?

Disarming Education

From California to Texas to Tennessee, students are organizing to get their schools out of the nuclear weapons enterprise. In California, a statewide coalition is working to reframe the debate around the management of the labs. According to coalition members, it's not about who manages Armageddon, but rather about a fundamental shift in the mission of the labs. The goal of the coalition is to bring the mission of the labs into compliance with the Non- Proliferation Treaty.

The Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California is working with University of Texas (UT) Nuclear Free to get both university systems out of the weapons of mass destruction business. Students in each campaign recognize the direct link between their campus and the perilous national and global policies of the US.

Both groups have also joined the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition to help build the growing "Books Not Bombs" movement [see pg.17].

There are many ways that students across the country can get involved in creating campuses for peace at their schools. By acting locally, we can directly affect the global structure that promotes war and fear-based control. Working together while strategically strengthening the youth movement, we continue to build a more sustainable, democratic and peaceful future.

Tara Dorabji is Outreach Director for Tri-Valley CARE and a founding member of the Coalition to Demilitarize the University of California. Tri-Valley CAREs is part of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Abolition 2000 and United for Peace and Justice. Will Parish is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz.

 

Top

Prioritize Education, Not Military Spending!

By Julie Ajinkya
Pages 4-5


THE COSTS OF WAR

  • The bill for the Iraq War so far (as of 7/20/04): $126.1 billion
  • Additional amount to cover operations through 2004: $25 billion

What $151 billion could have paid for in the U.S.:

  • Housing vouchers: 23 million
  • Health care for uninsured Americans for one year: 27 million
  • Years of salary for elementary school teachers: 3 million
  • New fire engines: 678,200

Head Start slots for a year: 20 million

  • $151 billion could also pay for 2 years worth of:
  • Food for half the hungry people in the world and
  • A comprehensive global AIDS treatment and prevention program,
    and
  • Clean water and sanitation throughout the developing world, and
  • Childhood immunizations for all children in the developing world

Estimated long-term cost of war to every U.S. household: $3,415

Reprinted with permission from Institute for Policy Studies

Books Not Bombs!

Fixing this country's schools would cost $127 billion. As of mid-2004, invading Iraq has cost $151 billion[1] and the cost is only rising. If the fact that a war based on lies, profit, and fiasco has cost $24 billion more than it would to educate our country enrages you, I suggest you count to ten. Because not only will Iraq undoubtedly cost more in the coming years with occupation and reconstruction, but the Bush administration continues to CUT education funding, warning the Department of Education to prepare for significant reductions in funding for fiscal year (FY) 2006.

It is clear that the Bush administration's tendency towards militarization makes budget pitfalls inevitable. Our military budget is strewn with outdated programs and proposed developments that don't address our current national security needs. Undoubtedly budgets that overemphasize weapons and force lead to those weapons and force being used in unjust wars and military interventions abroad.

Exactly how much do we spend on military and defense related programs? Technically, the defense budget request for FY2005 is $401.7 billion. But add in $18.5 billion for nuclear weapons under the Department of Energy budget, $42.5 billion in the Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Justice, State, and Treasury budgets, $50.9 billion for the Department of Veterans, $138.7 billion for the interest on defense-related debt, and $50 billion in supplements for the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and there you have a whopping $702.3 billion[2] for all US defense activities. Yes, $702.3 billion.

While the military budget continues to rise, education is in crisis. Head Start - a Federal program for preschool children from low-income families - needs more funding to hire teachers and to enroll the 500,000 children who are eligible but remain unenrolled. The No Child Left Behind Act has failed millions of K-12 children and the program remains under-funded by $9.4 billion dollars. State-level studies, however, show an additional $85 billion would be needed to adequately fund this Act and its promise to prioritize education in this country. Tuition and fees at four-year public universities have gone up by more than 25% in the past two years. Just from Fall 2001 to Fall 2002, freshman at the University of Kansas experienced a 25% fee hike, Ohio State-19%, University of Washington and Washington State-16%, and the list goes on. At a time when tuition is rising to historic heights, the Pell Grant program, government assistance program for low-income students, continues to struggle with a $3.7 billion shortfall in the Bush Administration's FY2005 budget.[3]

What's even more shocking is the disparity between government grants and loans. While grants (financial aid that helps low-income and disadvantaged students go to school without incurring uncontrollable debt) have only received a 47% increase in funding over the past three decades, the availability of loans has increased by 457%! Since most low-income students will be more reluctant at incurring endless debt through loans, why does the government's financial aid packages prioritize students who are already more well-off?

Let's go back to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). Interestingly enough, the Act requires the same standards and test results from the poorest schools in the country as it does the best endowed, regardless of how much funding the former have lost from their state government or the federal government. In order to meet these standards, the schools must administer standardized tests that usually cost quite a bit of money. However, the Department of Defense offers a ready solution: the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), an aptitude test that is administered for free. The test-takers' results are duly reported to Army recruiters who use the data to target potential enlistees.

What's more, the NCLBA also makes schools turn over students' personal contact information to military recruiters, as long as the students haven't chosen to opt-out of the disclosure system. Unless students figure out that they have the right to take their names off of this list, their personal information and test results are reported to recruiters who use this data to help them decide which students will be most tempted by promises of education and job skills. [An opt-out form is available on pg. 31] Could it be in the military's best interests to keep schools under-funded and keep college financial aid to a minimum?

People of color and poor white people are much more inclined to enlist in the military as an opportunity to get a job and/or get an education. The US military seeks to have a volunteer force that reflects the general population. Currently Latinos are underrepresented in the military while Blacks are overrepresented. The military is making an increased effort to attract more Latinos into the military to make up for the shortfall. Recruiting is a complex business and every year the military studies the youth market to project what recruiting will be like this year. One way we see targeted recruiting practices is through Spanish language advertising either in Latino publications, television and radio programming, or Spanish language recruiting materials. The military has also converted several of their websites into Spanish versions- even the military admits this is an obvious campaign targeted at Latinos.

Julie Ajinkya is the National Student Outreach Coordinator for Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. She thanks Theo Rose and James Sugget, two Institute for Policy Studies associates, for their comments and research. www.fpif.org

Disproportionate numbers of people from communities of color and low-income areas join the ranks of the military because they see it as an alternative to higher education in the pursuit of success. Instead of pouring more money into our school systems and creating a society where students don't have to sacrifice their lives for an education, the Administration continues to funnel $702.3 billion into military and defense related programs. What's more mind-boggling is that a good number of these programs are outdated and unnecessary. So instead of comparing price tags between education and the military, we're comparing education with unnecessary and wasteful defense programs.

A joint task force led by Foreign Policy in Focus (www.fpif.org) and the Center for Defense Information (www.cdi.org) recently released a new report called A Unified Security Budget For the United States. The report finds that "the Bush Administration has concentrated its resources overwhelmingly on its military forces, at the expense of other security tools."[4] The key findings identify ten programs within the military budget that could be safely cut or reconfigured to free up to $56 billion in resources for neglected security priorities.

For example, this task force, comprised of numerous military and defense experts, found that $22 billion could be obtained from scaling back our Weapon and Equipment Research and Development. At a time when the US military budget alone equals 8 times that of China's (the world's second largest spender), it makes no sense for our R&D budget to be substantially larger than what it was at the peak of the Cold War. Another shocking revelation: more money - billions of dollars - is sunk into nuclear programs to maintain outdated nuclear warheads than was spent on designing, testing, and manufacturing these warheads during the height of the Cold War. (To learn about the other cuts that can be made to our military budget while still ensuring a safer America, read the full report at: http://www.fpif.org/pdf/defensereport/fulltext.pdf.

Shortfalls in education funding affect crucial state programs such as Title I funding (to improve the teaching/learning of at-risk students), initiatives that improve teacher quality, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (to create learning centers for disadvantaged students and their families) Meanwhile, billions of dollars waste away on unnecessary military and defense programs. The $702.3 billion for military and defense related expenses is a slap in the face to any American who simply wants an education. We'd have the money to end our education crisis, as well as provide for other essential domestic needs, if we stopped putting our national wealth into unnecessary military expenditures. All that's required to see that things don't add up is some simple math…but, hey, when your math teacher has been laid off, maybe it's not so easy to figure out.

 

Brillance of War

[1] "Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War." Institute for Policy Studies. June 24, 2004. www.ips-dc.org/iraq/costsofwar.

[2] Hallinan, Conn. "Robots that kill abroad may wound us at home." Shamokin, PA. May 1, 2004.

[3] Ibid.

[4] "How the US's War on Iraq Will Affect YOUR Tuition Bill." Cities for Peace, Institute for Policy Studies. 2003.

 

Top

Nuclear Hot-Spots and How to Get Involved

Page 6
The U.S. Nuke Hot Spots

Idaho (Texas A&M bidding for management)
Snake River Alliance - snakeriveralliance.org

Hanford
Government Accountability Project - whistleblower.org

Nevada Test Site
Shundahai Network - shundahai.org
Citizen Alert - citizenalert.org

Yucca Mountain
Citizen Alert - citizenalert.org

Sandia
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico - nukewatch.org
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety - nuclearactive.org
Southwest Research and Information Center - sric.org

Lawrence Livermore (Managed by U. of California)
Tri-Valley CAREs - trivalleycares.org
Western States Legal Foundation - wslfweb.org
UC Nuclear Free - ucnuclearfree.org

Los Alamos (Managed by U. of California; up for competitive bidding)
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety - nuclearactive.org
Los Alamos Study Group - lasg.org
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico - nukewatch.org
UT Nuke Free Campaign - utnukefree.org
UC Nuclear Free - ucnuclearfree.org

Rocky Flats
American Friends Service Committee, Denver - afsc.org
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center - (303) 444-6981

Pantex Plant
Panhandle Area Neighbors and Landowners -panal@earthlink.net
Peace Farm - peacefarm@arn.net

Mound Laboratory
Miamisburg Environmental Safety & Health - (513) 748-4757

Savannah River Site
Carolina Peace Resource Center - (803) 252-2221

Oak Ridge (Managed by U. of Tennessee and Battelle Corp.)
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance - (423) 483-8202

Portsmouth
Neighbors in Need - (513) 836-3311
Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Env. Safety & Health (614) 259-4688
Yggdrasil Institute (502) 868-9074
National Nuclear Workers for Justice - nnwj.com

Fernald
Fernald Residents for Environmental Safety & Health (513) 738-8055

Brookhaven
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment - (212) 726-9161

 

Top

The Ivory Tower; 99.44% Militarized?

A Brief Look the Military-Academic Complexi

By Nicholas Turse
Pages 7-8

Since 1961, thanks to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, we've all been at least dimly aware of the "unwarranted influence" of the military-industrial complex in America. Later in that decade, Senator J. William Fulbright spoke out against the militarization of academia, warning that, "in lending itself too much to the purposes of government, a university fails its higher purposes" and called attention to the existence of what he called the military-industrial-academic complex or what historian Stuart W. Leslie has termed the "golden triangle" of "military agencies, the high technology industry, and research universities."

Even in 1958, during the Eisenhower administration, the Department of Defense (DoD) spent an already impressive $91 million in support of "academic research." By 1964, the sum had reached $258 million and by 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, $266 million. By 2003, however, any of these numbers, or even their $615 million total, was dwarfed by the Pentagon's prime contract awards to just two schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Johns Hopkins University which, together, raked in a combined total of $842,437,294.

Joe College Gets Drafted

During World War II, as historian Roger Geiger has noted, educational institutions carrying out weapons development received the largest government research and development contracts. Following the war, military entities like the Office of Naval Research (ONR) sought to establish, strengthen, and cultivate relationships with university researchers. By the time the ONR officially received legislative authorization to begin its work in August 1946, it had already entered into contracts for 602 academic projects employing over 4000 scientists and graduate students. Academia has never looked back.

For example, at the close of World War II, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the nation's largest academic defense contractor. By 1968, a year after Fulbright coined the phrase "military- industrial-academic complex," MIT already ranked 54th among all US defense contractors. In 1969, its prime military contracts topped $100 million for the first time. By 2003, that number had grown to $514,230,083, enough to make MIT the 48th largest defense contractor in the US.

But MIT is far from alone. Today, the intertwining of military projects and academia is dizzying. According to a 2002 report by the Association of American Universities (AAAU), almost 350 colleges and universities conduct Pentagon-funded research. Universities receive more than 60% of defense basic research funding; and the DoD is the third largest federal funder of university research (after the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation).

The AAU further notes that the Department of Defense accounts for 60% of federal funding for university- based electrical engineering research, 55% for computer sciences, 41% for metallurgy/materials engineering, and 33% for oceanography. With the DoD's budget for research and development skyrocketing, so to speak, to $66 billion for 2004 - an increase of $7.6 billion over 2003 - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Pentagon can often dictate what research is undertaken and what isn't.

Higher education's dependence on federal dollars empowers the DoD to bend universities ever more easily to its will. For example, until August 2002, Harvard Law School "managed to bar recruiters for the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the military because qualified students who wish to serve are rejected if they are openly gay, lesbian or bisexual." However, thanks to a reinterpretation of federal law, the Pentagon found itself able to threaten Harvard with the loss of all its federal university funding, some $300 billion, if its law school denied access to military recruiters. Unable to fathom life ripped from the federal teat, Harvard caved.

But the DoD isn't only about the stick. As noted above, it spends most of its time directing research by bestowing plenty of carrots. While many schools vie for these dollars, two schools are consistently tops in DoD Contract Awards for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) money and have, in the past, duked it out for the top spot. In 2002, Johns Hopkins University ($363,342,491) bested MIT ($354,932,746). In 2003, it wasn't even a contest. Last year MIT raked in a whopping $512,112,618 in RDT&E dollars to Johns Hopkins' positively puny $300,303,097.

MIT's numbers were sufficient to rank it as 11th on the DoD's 2003 RDT&E Top 100 list. But even that ranking doesn't fully convey the school's place within the militaryacademic complex. At 23 on the RDT&E Top 100 list is the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit company originally created by several hundred MIT employees in 1958 to create new technologies for the DoD. Today, MITRE provides engineering and technical services to the federal government through three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) - one of which happens to serve the DoD. Moreover, MITRE, itself, is thoroughly wrapped up in the military-academic complex. It provides support to a "broad base of customers within the DoD and intelligence community," while "organizing and managing the first-of-its-kind Northeast Regional Research Center (NRRC) for the Advanced Research and Development Activity," which includes no fewer than fourteen major universities. Talk about webs within cogs within wheels!

With all this work for the DoD, MITRE rakes in a cool $186,389,105 in RDT&E awards. And if the funding dollars of MIT's offspring were added to MIT's total, the resulting $698,501,723 would move MIT into the charmed circle of top 10 defense contractors, including the likes of defense industry giants General Dynamics and Lockheed- Martin.

Academia's Unnoticed Identity Crisis

Even without MITRE's money added in, MIT's Pentagon-financed research dollars make it look more like a military-industrial giant than an educational institution. But MIT is only a small part of the story - no more than 1/350th of it. Today, the Pentagon, with its enormous budget and arm-twisting ability, can increasingly bend civilian higher education to its will. However, there is little popular awareness of this influence. Instead, the militarization of academia reaches new levels - unnoticed and unabated.

The military research underway on college campuses across America has very real and dangerous implications for the future. It will enable or enhance imperial adventures for decades to come; it will lead to new lethal technologies to be wielded against peoples across the globe; it will feed a superpower arms race of one, only increasing the already vast military asymmetry between the United States and everyone else; and it will make ever-more heavily armed, technologically- equipped, and "up-armored" US war-fighters ever less attractive adversaries and American and allied civilians much more appealing soft targets for America's enemies. None of this, however, enters the realm of debate. Instead, the Pentagon rolls along, doling out money to colleges large and small, expanding and strengthening the military-academic complex, and remaking civilian institutions to suit military desires as if this were but the natural way of the world.

Nicholas Turse is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

i A full length version of this article first appeared at: Tomdispatch.com.


Institutions in Service of the Warfare State

Ranked in order of total DoD funding for FY 2000
(excludes additional funds from Federally Funded Research and Development Centers)

1. Johns Hopkins University $371,852,000
2. Pennsylvania State University, University Park $103,398,000
3. University of Texas Austin $73,248,000
4. University of Southern California $73,248,000
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $54,303,000
6. University of Minnesota $41,993,000
7. Stanford $37,637,000
8. University of Washington $35,150,000
9. Carnegie Mellon $30,978,000
10. UC San Diego $30,991,000
11. University of Michigan $28,248,000
12. Utah State University $26,222,000
13. UC Los Angeles $25,282,000
14. Georgia Institute of Technology $25,085,000
15. University of New Mexico $24,878,000
16. Georgetown University $24,584,000
17. UC Berkeley $23,556,000
18. University of Illinois U.C. $21,535,000
19. California Institute of Technology $19,930,000
20. UC Santa Barbara $19,799,000
21. Louisiana State University $19,630,000
22. Cornell University $19,368,000
23. Woods Hole O.I. $19,962,000
24. Northwestern $15,400,000
25. Mississippi State $15,290,000
26. University of Florida $14,752,000
27. University of Arizona $14,668,000
28. University of Colorado $14,517,000
29. Princeton $13,659,000
30. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University $13,652,000
31. University of Maryland, College Park $13,186,000
32. Purdue University $12,731,000
33. University of Pennsylvania $12,731,000
34. Duke $11,944,000
35. Boston University $11,610,000
36. Harvard $11,591,000
37. North Carolina State $11,552,000
38. Ohio State $11,130,000
39. University of Texas, San Antonio $10,608,000
40. Vanderbilt $9,833,000

 

 

Top

We Almost Won!

The 1988-89 Student Campaign to End Military Weapons Research at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst

By Randy Viscio
Pages 10-11

In 1988, 6 students calling themselves People for a Socially Responsible University (PSRU) began investigating military research contracts at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. What they didn't know was that they were about to begin a process that would eventually lead to the largest protests the University had experienced since the Vietnam Era. By the time it was over, there were 500 students and community members arrested, 6 building occupations, a hunger strike, a jury trial and, later, the resignation of the Chancellor. More importantly, this small group of students managed to expose (however briefly) the insidious partnership between their University and the military-industrial complex.

People power vs. Military PowerThe students began by splitting up the tasks that would allow them to attain information about UMASS' partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD). They filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for all DoD and Department of Energy (DoE) research conducted at UMASS. They approached UMASS Office of Research and Development to attain copies of the University's contracts.

Here, they hit their first of many roadblocks set up by the UMASS Administration. At first, administrators balked at allowing them to see the contracts, then, under the threat of a lawsuit, allowed them to get copies of the contracts- but not before they attached high fees for the copying. As the FOIA requests began coming back, they enlisted the help of willing science faculty to help them interpret the research projects identified in the contracts.

What they found, though not uncommon for a public university, was, nonetheless, disturbing. The University was home to the most highly funded research in basic biological "defense" on Anthrax and Dengue Fever. The University's faculty and students were conducting research on the "Autonomous Land Vehicle" which is synonymous for "machines whose killing ability is directed by remote control." There was research being done in conjunction with other universities, such as Carnegie Mellon, on "tripod" or spider-like robotics that were (and are) targeted by the military to be our armed force of the future.

Once the UMASS students' research was done, they arranged for a reporter from the local independent newspaper to do an article on their findings. This was an important step in the process. When the article came out it raised eyebrows at the school and in the community. The seeds of knowledge were planted and a succinct outline of the military weapons issue was created.

Between the time when the article was published and the first building occupation, the PSRU group held meetings and conducted guerilla theatre on the campus. The organization held a mock marriage between the DoD and the University (with the Grim Reaper serving as the Justice of Peace) and ran teach-ins. Still, support was peripheral and a few students in the group decided to try something different to bring attention to the issue.

On the afternoon of April 19, 1989, FOIA requests and DoD contracts in hand, a few members of PSRU gathered with about 20 other students from the Central American Solidarity Association (CASA) at the entrance to the UMASS Administration Building. There were many curious people, like me, on the edges. I attended the rally primarily to support opposition to our foreign policy in Central America.

However, when one of the PSRU members stood up on a wall and identified the connections between the UMASS Board of Regents (corporate CEO's of Raytheon, IBM, Honeywell, etc.), the DoD and the University Administration, I was engaged. For the first time it was clear that a group of students had done their homework. They had evidence. They had facts. They had made a logical "request": that the University end its love affair with the DoD by ending the military research and looking for more socially responsible ways to fund the University. They called it "Economic Conversion." The consequences of not doing this would be higher tuitions, unaffordable programs, reduction in admissions, reduction in student- body diversity and the replacement of liberal arts education with a quasi-military high technology education. And sadly enough, almost 16 years later I can tell you…that is exactly what happened!

But on this day we were optimistic and we set about trying to stop this huge, monolithic juggernaut of a University controlled by the purse strings of High Tech Corporations, greedy businessmen and military contractors from flushing the possibilities of a better University down the toilet.

We marched from the Administration building to the Student Union where some guerilla theater was performed. Then we marched on to the Graduate Research Center where another PSRU member made an impassioned speech and then ran into the Laboratory building where much military research was being conducted. Many of us followed and found ourselves occupying the Microwave Sensing Laboratory. It was amazing. An argument ensued between a PSRU member and the graduate students in the lab. The student researchers weren't even aware that they were conducting research for the military. When we showed them the DoD contracts listing their professor's name and the type of research being done, they hastily retreated from the lab.

By 6pm, out of nearly 30 people who entered the lab, only six of us remained. We were determined to make a statement. The University police tried numerous tactics to get us to leave. They threatened suspension, expulsion, arrest, they said we could stay the night and then rescinded the offer. What we wanted was a meeting with the Chancellor. They said the Chancellor would meet us in the morning. Not good enough. We stayed there in the lab while the University cops mocked us, made fun of us, threatened us, and made us use a trash can to urinate in. Finally, they had enough of us.

One by one we were removed. Several of us were dragged out. I was the last to go. By the next afternoon, about a hundred students turned out for a PSRU meeting to discuss the next step. The Chancellor refused to meet with the group.

Without much dissention we agreed to occupy another building. On April 24, 1989 we held a rally and nearly one hundred students took over the University's Memorial Hall.

We made our demands and asked for a meeting with the Chancellor to discuss them. He again refused. The University cops called in the state police and they surrounded the building- attack dogs, helicopters, and all. We had an ongoing battle with them to get food and water into the building. A few skirmishes broke out. Eventually, 60 people inside the building and 40 outside were arrested and hauled off to the UMASS stadium for processing. One student who refused to give his name was put in jail. The rest of us were issued tickets to appear in court. The next meeting of the group attracted almost two hundred students.

The Chancellor agreed to hold an "open forum" in the Student Union to discuss the issue of military research. Really, this was a ploy by the Chancellor to discuss the issue with everyone EXCEPT the students who had done the research and had the most information. The forum was ridiculous. About 500 students got in the door and probably 200 more were outside. The Chancellor made the usual comments about how the university could not put up with civil disobedience even though they lauded the students for being so idealistic, etc. He took questions only from students who were not involved with the PSRU group and played the whole thing off like it was some kind of joke.

There were more organizational meetings with about 200 students committed to direct action.

The University's response to the call for Economic Conversion continued to be meaningless so we kept up the pressure. On May 3, 1989 a PSRU rally at the student union attracted about 500 students. We marched on the Graduate Research Center and took over the offices of the Dean of Graduate Research and again called for Economic Conversion. Again, the University Chancellor refused to meet with the group and, instead, began calling the parents of students who were involved.

The Director of Public Safety again attempted various tactics to get students to leave the Research Center. He had the university police maintain sleep deprivation tactics throughout the night and went back and forth between saying the students were about to be arrested and that they would not be arrested.

Finally, at noon the next day, May 4, 1989, after a crowd of about 1,000 students had gathered outside the building, the State Police arrived with a large bus and arrested the 100 students occupying the building. As these arrests were happening a rogue band of students went and began a sit-in at the Chancellor's office. At this point, the University did something it had never done before…it stated that the University was under a kind of "State of Emergency" and that any student occupying a building would be subject to immediate arrest and expulsion. The students left the Chancellor's office feeling that they had made their point.

Support began to pour in from surrounding schools and communities. The group received letters of support from national and international organizations. Numerous faculty members from all programs issued petitions of support and called on the University to meet with the members of PSRU. Still, the Chancellor declined.

Several things happened simultaneously the week of May 13, 1989 that finally brought the meeting that we were looking for. First, a group of seven students decided to go on a hunger strike until the University agreed to meet. Second, many documents taken by students who occupied the Graduate Research Center were published in local and school newspapers. These documents were a series of letters between the Dean of Graduate Research and various military officials. The letters helped further expose the seemingly too cozy relationship. Third, a group of community members took over the Chancellor's office in support of the student protests because the University could not "expel" them. Fourth, a Teach- In was held that pitted members of the University Science Faculty conducting military research in a debate against faculty members and students supportive of Economic Conversion. As the Teach-In progressed it became clear that many of the science faculty at the University did not even know that their contracts originated with the DoD.

With two buildings occupied, seven students on hunger strike and growing knowledge about the issue, the Chancellor finally agreed to meet. The Chancellor agreed to form a committee made up of students, faculty and community members that would consider the concept of Economic Conversion. But the Chancellor knew that graduation was a few weeks away and that students would be leaving for the summer. This being the case, he waited until after graduation to form the committee. He installed none other than the Dean of Graduate Research, who had the power to remove whatever he wanted from the final report as the Chair of the committee. At the same time, he gave the committee no binding power. The end result?

Epilogue: Within a year after the protests to end military research at the University and begin a process of Economic Conversion to socially responsible research and funding, the University built a huge High-Tech center, raised student tuitions and canceled numerous humanities and arts courses. This has been the trend not only at UMASS but all around the country. Today, UMASS is a great place to go if you want to make weapons and pay high tuition with the hope of getting into a high-paying high-tech job with a defense contractor like Lockheed Martin or Raytheon.

The Chancellor resigned and went to Washington DC. Students at UMASS went on a 20,000-person campus wide strike (organized by PSRU organizers) because of tuition increases. But eventually PSRU members went their own way as life (and the stress of doing this kind of organizing) got in the way of what they had started. Only one of the original organizers, Jonathan Leavitt, continued to organize around other anti-corporate issues.

Randy Viscio is an alumnus of the Student Environmental Action Coalition. He can be reached at rviscio at aol dot com.

Lessons Learned

  1. Do your homework by filing FOIA requests and securing copies of University Contracts.

     

  2. Get friendly science and economic faculty or others to assist you in interpreting the documents. Publish your findings.

     

  3. Know your University: If they will talk and work with you that's great. If you know they won't, don't waste
    time attempting more than cordial dialogue. Know who is on your Board of Regents (or similar body) and identify them. They are most likely aligned with big corporations that benefit from the cheap labor of students.

     

  4. Educate the student body through news publications, teach-ins, debates, guerilla theatre and rallies.

     
  5. Timing is Everything: Initiate any direct actions early in the school year to ensure that you can maintain pressure throughout the year.

     

  6. Secure MEANINGFUL concessions: Committees or decisions that have no "binding" power are relatively meaningless.

     

  7. Use the threat or reality of lawsuits to gain concessions.

     

  8. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul and pass your knowledge onto others. This is an ongoing process that will last longer than the time you are in school.

     

  9. Discuss how you will deal with all the dynamics that will come into play when larger numbers of students decide to get involved, particularly if you have successful direct actions. Stay the course on your issue and don't get pulled off the subject by people who want to go in other directions. Don't be afraid to ask people who are detracting for your issue to leave the group but also have an open mind.

     

  10. Be willing to get arrested for your beliefs. Five or six students getting arrested can (and usually will) lead to large-scale involvement in your cause by those who would otherwise sit on the sidelines.

     

  11. Develop a good balance of moral and economic arguments with the understanding that most people will respond to economic arguments over moral ones: remember, we live in a capitalist economy and we are brought up on a healthy dose of "money over morals."

     

  12. Stay away from "killing is wrong" arguments. Most people don't agree.

     

  13. Describe for people the kinds of weapons that are being developed and how those weapons kill people. They will make their own decision about whether or not that is something they want at their University.

     

  14. Describe for people how funding from the military is not the only option and offer alternatives. At a minimum, argue that the University has the resources to seek other options and that you would be more than happy to be involved in that process if the University is serious about change.

     

  15. There are plenty of arguments you can make about the amount of money being spent on war and weaponry as opposed to rising tuition.

     

  16. Argue that students are unknowingly conducting research for the military. Most students and even some faculty have no clue that their research is funded by the military. Make them think about it.

 

Top

The Williams Social Choice Fund

Excerpted from Investing in Social Change: A Student Handbook on Community Investment by Colleges and Universities

Produced By Equity Trust, Inc.
Page 12
Social Choice or Diploma Mill?

It took an intense two-year campaign, initiated by students and eventually joined by faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, but, in October 2001, Williams College finally announced the creation of a socially responsible investment fund, ten percent of which is committed to community investments.

The initiative to bring socially responsible investing to Williams began in the fall of 1999 when a handful of students began researching the companies in the college‘s stock portfolio and became concerned at what they saw. One of those students recalls:

"When we got the College to release its portfolio of stock holdings, we saw that Williams had substantial investments in Phillip Morris, GE, and other companies with notoriously bad social and environmental behavior. We felt that by holding such stock, the college was supporting the activities of those corporations, which in some cases meant advertising cigarettes to kids, producing military weapons, and polluting the nearby Hudson and Housatonic Rivers with PCBs. Discovering the contents of the portfolio made it clear to us that Williams' investments were perhaps the most substantial and direct way in which the college was involved in many of the social and environmental problems that we were concerned about."

In addition to questioning the college‘s complicity in unsavory components of the global economy, the students began raising questions about what responsibility Williams, as a very wealthy institution, had to the depressed local community of Northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts and other communities like it. Thus, the students made community investment a central component of their campaign in spite of significant resistance to it on the part of the college.

After a process of self-education and some outreach, the students initiated conversations with the administration and trustees. These meetings, however, made it clear that the college was not amenable to a wholesale change in its investment policy. So the small group of students that had formed around this issue came up with the more modest proposal of creating a separate fund that would be invested in a socially responsible manner (partly in screened mutual funds and partly in community investments) and that would provide socially and environmentally concerned alumni with the opportunity to have their gifts invested in a way that was consistent with their principles. Students presented this proposal to the college in Spring 2000, but administrators made it clear that they were not willing to have a separately managed fund within the endowment.

Confronted with this definitive no, the students eventually decided that, instead of repeatedly asking the college to do something it didn‘t want to do, they would try a different tack. With only a few weeks left in the school year, students, with the help of Equity Trust, decided to create their own independent fund outside of the college and collect donations for it from students, faculty, parents, and alumni who supported the idea of a social investment fund. The 2000 Fund would accept contributions and invest them in Equity Trust‘s community development loan fund. Equity Trust agreed to hold and invest the 2000 Fund donations and send the returns from these investments to Williams, while keeping the fund‘s principal until the college agreed to create its own socially responsible fund.

To advertise the 2000 Fund, students wrote mass-emails to students and alumni, tabled in public spaces, wrote columns in the college paper, got an article written about the fund in the local newspaper, and generally asked people to make donations and write a letter or email of support to the college. Many of the donations were small - often just the pocket change of students - but a few parents and alumni made significant gifts to the fund. In the end, however, it was not the size of the fund (a mere $1,600), but the breadth of the support (over 130 donors and many more supportive letters and emails) and the sense that the fund was interfering with the college‘s source of revenue that made the strategy effective.

While certain elements of the college administration were angry with this move, they eventually agreed to negotiate with the students. The independent fund had given the students a kind of leverage that they had not had before. It was no longer the students saying, "we want you to do this,", it was the students now saying, "we‘re doing this, how are you going to respond." Faced with a new alternative fund that threatened to draw away support from the college‘s usual fundraising - and a group of students committed to keeping it there for however long it might take - the college decided to come back to the negotiating table.

In Spring 2001, the students launched another organizing effort. First, they put together a panel on socially responsible investing with experts in the field. Following this, they started a campaign to get petition signatures and pledges of financial support to the 2000 Fund or an equivalent fund. Over three hundred people signed pledges, which were then presented to the trustees along with the fund proposal at a meeting with students. By the time the meeting came, the students had found an important ally in the college treasurer and had gotten the college‘ s new president to support their effort, at least in principle. At the meeting itself, the finance committee of the trustees seemed to consider the proposal more seriously than they had in the past. However, in the end, the organizers left - and some graduated - without an answer.

Over the course of that summer, students continued to work with the college treasurer who helped them amend the proposal in a way that addressed some of the lingering concerns of the trustees without undermining the students‘ goals. The treasurer was then able to get the proposal on the agenda of the board‘s Fall meeting in October 2001. Finally, at that Fall meeting, after two years of outreach, organizing, fundraising and multiple rounds of negotiation, the Finance Committee of the Trustees approved the idea and agreed to create the Social Choice Fund at Williams.

The bulk of the Social Choice Fund is invested in a socially screened mutual fund that excludes corporations responsible for environmental degradation, human rights abuses, weapons manufacturing, discriminatory employment practices, unsafe working conditions, exploitative treatment of indigenous peoples, animal cruelty, or the production of harmful products such as tobacco. When the fund grows to a certain size, ten percent will be invested with Community Development Financial Institutions to provide loans to projects responding to the needs of low-income communities. For these community investments, priority will be given to projects in the Berkshire region where Williams is located.

Reflecting on the College‘s decision, Becky Sanborn, one of the student leaders, says, "Williams College and countless other academic institutions across the country already contribute greatly to society by educating future leaders and responsible citizens. The creation of the Social Choice Fund is an important step for Williams as it works to become a responsible citizen itself."

For more information, visit www.equitytrust.org.

 

Top

JROTC

What the Hell is It? And, What Does it Want?

By Kevin Ramirez
Page 13

What is JROTC?

Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps is a military program, which offers military courses at high schools. It is used as a recruitment tool to get young people into the military. JROTC is a high school version of the college ROTC program. The high school version of ROTC, unlike what the name suggests, doesn't train students to be officers. Students completing JROTC begin as E4's, the lowest rank in the military.

Who does JROTC target? Why?

JROTC mainly targets schools in areas with a potential for military recruitment, mainly in poor areas - "particularly in inner cities and the focus of the expansion was to be on - I hesitate to use the term at-risk kids, but kids who would otherwise be called at-risk" (Tom Wilson, deputy assistant secretary of the Army outlining Colin Powel's JROTC plan).

Young people in the hood are targeted because their lives are not valued by the US Government. The military needs people to "fight and win wars" (Vice President Dick Cheney). If kids from the hood could be used for this purpose then it helps those who wage war.

How many high schools have a JROTC program?

Each division of the military has its own JROTC. Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines. Between 1992 and 1997, the number of JROTC programs more than doubled, from 1,600 to 3,500 nationwide.

What is the JROTC mission?

"To motivate young people to be better citizens" = To recruit and indoctrinate.

JROTC is "one of the best recruitment programs we could have." (Defense Secretary William Cohen, 1999). 40% of the military's yearly recruits comes from JROTC. That's a lotta people.

"I'll admit, the armed forces might get a youngster more inclined to enlist as a result of Junior ROTC." (Colin Powell).

Brutality, injuries, gangs, shooting incidents: all have been documented in connection with JROTC units across the country. At a time when we're fighting to get guns out of our schools, many JROTC programs have "marksmanship programs" - teaching students to assemble, load, aim, and shoot guns within our public schools.

How the hell does JROTC get in a high school in the first place?

Two major ways are:

1) A school (the higher ups in the school - principal, guidance counselor, tightassed teachers, and the school board. It could also be some parents, church folk, community peeps fed up with the violence, disciplinelessness or shumthin in the school) fills out an application for establishing a JROTC. The idea bounces around the school administration - key school players. It then goes to the school board for a vote.

2) The Pentagon targets a school district where they think they can get recruits. Since they have mad loot, they have interceptor officers stationed in different parts of the country who kick it to the principal, school board, dean, counselor, teachers, parents, students, whoever. The idea bounces around the school administration - key school players. It then goes to school board for a vote.

How does JROTC end up staying once it gets in?

Support from viewers like you. Each year JROTC needs to have either 100 students enrolled or 10% of the student body population.

JROTC needs the support of teachers, students, administrators, parents and community folk. Supporting something like JROTC doesn't mean waving a big ol' JROTC flag. Most of the time it means not saying anything against JROTC - JROTC, like the military, thrives on submission; silent support.

How do they sucker people into feeling like they need a JROTC in their school?

"Respect," "discipline," "an alternative to the violence on the streets" are all bait used to lure folks to feeling like they need a JROTC in their schools. It often works with parents and teachers and some students who may be sick of the violence. But when was the last time you heard that the military was teaching people about peace? To repeat the brutally honest quote (and the truth hurts): "The military is not a job training program. The purpose of the military is to fight and win wars." (Dick Cheney)

"JROTC is a great program that boosts high school completion rates, reduces drug use, raises self-esteem, and gets these kids (who the hell is he calling "these"?) firmly on the right track." (George Bush Sr. Aug. 24, 1992)

Who's paying for JROTC?

You are. So is your mama and anyone else in your family above 18 if they work. Between 50%-75% of the money to run JROTC comes from your school. The other half comes from the Pentagon, that is, tax dollars that people in your family and community are paying.

How much does JROTC cost?

A JROTC unit on average costs roughly $76,000. Running a unit can easily cost double and sometimes triple this.

School districts nationwide spent an estimated $222 million in local taxes on JROTC instructor costs alone during the 1998-1999 school year, while the Department of Defense contributed an additional $167.8 million.

"Pentagon funding is expected to rise more than 50%, from $215 million last year to $326 million by 2004." (TIME, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002)

How else could money for JROTC be used?

With $75,000 you can get an SAT course going in a school, with an SAT instructor, SAT texts and prep courses. You can get a job placement center going, hooking kids up with part-time gigs and full-time gigs in the summer. You can get a production studio, where kids could learn how to produce, make beats, instrumentals, loop, etc. and record their own music. You can get a hot magazine going. You can get a video production/filmmaking class going. You can have kids take field trips.

Get involved with the ROOTS campaign to get rid of JROTC. Contact ROOTS (212)228-0450 or roots@rootsnet.org

 

Top

Demilitarizing an Urban Inner City High School

What Does it Take?

By Arlene Inouye
Pages 14-15
Demilitarizing an Inner City High School

The efforts of ordinary youth and adults can make a BIG difference in changing the militarism of our schools. How? Let me give some examples from my experience at Theodore Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles, the school where I teach.

Roosevelt, the second largest high school in the nation, has 5,200 year-round students. It is located in a poor working class neighborhood of 98% Latin American descent, the majority from Mexico. Roosevelt is known for its traditions, especially its long-standing football rivalry with another East Los Angeles school. The military has also been a tradition at Roosevelt where the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corp (JROTC) has had a presence on campus since around 1926. Prior to 2003, the school was known as being the number one campus for Marine recruitment, but the efforts of ordinary youth and adults have changed that.

How is militarism manifested at Roosevelt? Let us count the ways…

1) On-Campus Military Recruiters

Until 2003, military recruiters in uniform from the Army, Navy, Marines, and air force had free access to the campus. They talked to students between classes, during lunch, and even made classroom presentations. There is a great disparity regarding the presence of recruiters at different schools in the district - from a few times a year at some schools to nearly everyday at others. Comparing poor, minority schools to rich, whiter schools shows the "poverty draft"- the intense recruiting the military does in working class Latino and African American communities in the inner city. For every college counselor at Roosevelt, there were FIVE military recruiters. Their purpose is to sell the military by promising college financial aid and other incentives. And unfortunately for many who grow up with video games, heroic images of war, and a family tradition of military service, it's an easy sell. 37 percent of first time enlistees are students 17 and 18 years of age.

Counter-recruitment Actions

In 2003, the Leadership Council of Roosevelt limited the number of times the military recruiters can be on campus to about 4 times a year. The Council also no longer allows military presentations during class time due to concerns regarding student achievement and testing. With the approval of the administration, and using the equal access law, a group of students, teachers, school staff, and community organizations presented "Options for Youth." Students in the MEChA club as well as school staff passed out brochures and flyers such as "What you should know before you enlist" and talked and listened to whoever was willing. We also had spoken word artists read letters from the soldiers and discuss alternatives.

2) No Child Left Out of the Military

A provision of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, Bush's education bill, requires that school districts release private student directory information (names, addresses, and telephone numbers) or risk losing federal funds. The only way to prevent the military recruiters from getting personal information is for the student or parent to sign an "opt-out" statement requesting that personal information be withheld from the military.

NOTE: on page 32 you will find an "opt-out" form in both Spanish and English. If you would like recruiters to leave you alone, clip out the form and have your parent or guardian fill it out and return the completed form to the school administration. The 62,800 juniors and seniors in the Los Angeles Union School District (LAUSD) who received the mailed "opt-out" forms by the District, had an abysmal 2% return rate. An informal poll at Roosevelt indicated that most students (and adult staff) knew nothing about it.

Arlene Inouye is co-chair of the Human Rights Committee of United Teachers Los Angeles and coordinator of the Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools (CAMS).

Counter-recruitment Actions

The Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools (CAMS), comprised of family members and school staff, has a Student Education Campaign that includes information about opt-out and military recruiting. Students taking the lead in this campaign, along with adult supporters, strategize about how to inform their specific communities. There will be a youth rally, with literature and other resources made available. In addition, we have spoken to the Board of Education and presented a series of suggestions for proactive communication and outreach strategies. We hope the results will be evident this year, and are working to repeal the Act.

3) Junior Reserves Officer Training Corp (JROTC) Classes

The purpose of JROTC is to "facilitate recruiter access to cadets in JROTC program and to the entire student body." In LAUSD, there are 30 high schools that offer JROTC as a physical education elective at a cost of over $3 million. The 6,000 students enrolled in the JROTC classes come from predominately poor and working class communities of Latinos and African-Americans. At Roosevelt and across the city, students are often involuntarily placed into JROTC because of a lack of physical education electives. Even when students ask to be changed, they remain in JROTC for months. Why? Is it because there are not enough physical education classes to which to transfer them in these overcrowded schools? Why is JROTC expanding nationally, across the district, and at Roosevelt, while other classes have been slashed or received reduced funding?

Counter-recruitment Action

We have signed petitions to axe JROTC programs, presented concerns to the Board of Education, documented cases on students involuntarily placed into the class and cases in which students have been misinformed about the program. We have distributed literature and facts about the program (see www.militaryfreeschools.org)

4) Military culture

The military has infiltrated our schools in so many subtle ways, including the visible display of military mottos and trophies in the school, the distribution of free items to students (key straps, calendars, pens, mugs, sweat bands, etc.), and MTV-style commercials endlessly advertising the military on Channel One, a television "station" that many schools are required to play in exchange for loaning TVs and VCRs to poor schools.

 

8 Actions for Students

Fight Back!

  1. Talk to peers about war, US militarism, and their consequences and costs. Read, Chris Hedges' War is a Force that Gives us Meaning, and Addicted to War, by Joel Andreas.

  • Ask your teachers for diverse perspectives on war, for debate and discussion. Suggest that teachers invite veterans, and others with personal first hand accounts (i.e. Veterans Speakers Project).
  • Engage in critical thinking regarding what you see and hear from the media.
  • Learn about the Opt Out provision of the No Child Left Behind Act. Distribute opt out forms at school, in the community, and public places. Find out about national campaigns for coordinated actions.
  • Talk to your parents, relatives, neighbors, and community about militarism. You can also speak to parent groups, churches, and other organizations. Never underestimate the power of youth.
  • If your school has a JROTC program, find out if students are being involuntarily placed in it, circulate petitions and ask for alternative programs such as additional physical education alternatives and service learning projects.
  • Organize around military recruiters on campus. You have a legal right to provide an alternative perspective. Pass out flyers, set up a table and request equal opportunities. You can download brochures from: www.comdsd.org, www.afsc.org, www.objectors.com, among other websites. Join student clubs on your campus such as MEChA, Peace Clubs, Students of Color, or form your own club.
  • Organize and determine your priorities, and if possible link with other student groups and organizations in your communities.
  • You, the students, are the ones who can make the most impact. You can reach out to your peers in ways that no one else can. Show us the power and wisdom of youth. Show us that you are smarter than those who want to use your lives to support war and a militaristic way of life.

     

    Top

    Marine Resists War Machine

    Sentenced to 6 Months in Military Prison

    Page 16
    Marine Resists War Machine

    Stephen Funk, 21 at the time of this interview, self-identifies as gay and "mixed race...I'm Filipino and Chinese; my dad's Irish and Native American. Stephen refused to deploy when his Marine Reserve Corps unit was mobilized for active duty in Iraq, making him the first conscientious objector imprisoned for refusing to fight the Iraq War. Instead, he engaged in anti-war work. After 47 days, he turned himself in. The Marine Corps promised it would quickly process his claim as a conscientious objector. Instead, the Corps court-martialed Stephen, convicting him of unauthorized absence (a higher charge of desertion didn't stick), and sentenced him to six months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge. In March 2004, Stephen was released from his six-month sentence in military prison at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and returned home.

    What effect did military recruiters have on your decisions, what tactics did they use to appeal to you?

    I was in a really low, vulnerable time in my life, and I think recruiters know how to target people like that because they are more susceptible to joining. My recruiter encouraged me to come in and talk about what type of things I can learn from being in the military, and it still wasn't working. He invited me to go along on these trips that they had and because I was feeling a sense like I didn't belong, didn't have a direction, those were the things that he talked about the most. You get a sense of belonging, you're part of the team. I went to these places and they were trying to make me feel part of the team. Also, the recruiter tells people what [others] will say when you tell them you've joined the military. I didn't talk to my family about it because I was depressed, and I didn't tell them until two weeks before. But in a way my recruiter really encouraged me not to talk about it very much with people... "they are gonna discourage you from doing it, they'll say, well that's not really you, that's not what you're really like." He was trying to make it seem like it was my decision to begin with, that I made a good decision, and that I should stay with that feeling.

    What was it like, being gay in the military?

    When people asked me in boot camp if I was gay, I didn't say "no," you know. I was just like, "well, I'm not gonna say." Even if I didn't say it, everybody thought I was gay, and I didn't try to act straight or anything. And even though [they're] really not supposed to, drill sergeants referenced it. One time there was a guy, the platoon leader, who was a recruit like everybody else. He was supposed to get everybody out of the chow hall - that's like the cafeteria - and I had gotten there last, so I was still hungry. I wasn't gonna leave, I was being defiant. So the drill sergeant says to this guy, "Oh look, [you] can't even scare the limp-wristed recruit from San Francisco into getting out." There was other stuff, there was stuff against Asians. And the two Asian recruits in our platoon, were the "laundry recruits" - you know like the Chinese laundry [stereotype]. So first [the drill sergeant's] like, "Let me see where my Chinese recruits are at, let me try to figure out who is gonna be laundry recruits." No one raised their hands, and then he said, "OK, Asian." There were two of us, so we were the laundry recruits. And it was weird, there's so much of that stuff that you start forgetting it, because it just seems so normal [that you forget that it hurts]. Boot camp is a normalization of violence and hate. Everyone goes through a process of dehumanization, where they hate themselves and they hate everybody, so [the soldiers] won't feel so bad when they have to kill [others], or they won't feel so bad when they have to hate "the enemy."

    At what point in boot camp did you realize that you didn't want to be there, that you started thinking about doing something about it?

    One time, when we were shooting rifles, I shot "expert" and I'd never shot a gun before. And the person scoring me said on my card that I had an attitude. And I don't know what he means … so I asked him. That was weird in itself because you never challenge authority, but I asked him, I said, "What do you mean, I have an attitude? I shot well, didn't I?" And he goes, "In a real life situation you wouldn't score as well." I say, "You're right, I think killing is wrong, I don't want to kill. I don't want to be a part of that, I would not shoot." It was like I had actually vocalized what I had been thinking. And at that point, it's sort of like a "coming out of the closet" moment. It's a realization [that] you just said it, you can't take it back. After that I was like "Wow!" It was a relief, but it was also hard because I had to actually deal with the fact that I was a hypocrite. I'll just admit it. , if you can.

    Would you comment on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?"

    I think ["Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] is an awful policy, because it perpetuates anti-gay sentiment, it helps people hate gay people. [But] I don't really advocate gay people serving in the military, because I don't believe in the military mission as it is now. I think that if they just lifted ["Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] right now, the way things are, I think it would [still] be really bad for gay people in the military. Unless they unteach homophobia, and unteach the hatred toward gay people that they do teach in boot camp, unless they have something like that implemented as well, I don't think it's safe.

    What advice would you give to other young folks, especially queer youth, who might be interested in joining the military or are currently serving?

    As far as queer people, especially, this is what I would say to people that are gay or a minority or female or oppressed in other ways: Think about really what you are, what the military does, and how you are helping to perpetuate a bad situation for your people here at home, and who is benefiting from it. Who is benefiting from it are usually the people that are directly oppressing you. And that is why I would encourage people to think about it. I would also encourage people not to join if they are in a depression, if they are joining because they want to escape something. [I would encourage people not to join if] they are joining because they want money for school, [because] you don't get very much money. [The military is] a culture of non-thinking, it's a culture that's violent, it's a culture of aggression, it's a situation that promotes alcoholism, and things like rape often occur because of that.

    What was it like to decide to go against the U.S. military?

    It's obviously made it harder for me, but I'm glad I did. It wasn't something that I wanted to think about for the rest of my life, knowing I was part of the invasion of Iraq. I was extremely oppressed by being in the military, being gay, and I was oppressed because I didn't go along with the program, and I was punished for that. And I think it is easier when you've experienced it, it gives you more momentum, something like that. Yeah, I'm glad I did it.

     

    Top

    Intelligence in higher education ain't what it used to be

    By Zafar S. Shah
    Page 18

    "First, the government treats us like terrorists, and then to make matters even worse, the university asks us to pay for our own surveillance."

    George Liu, UMass-Amherst student

    Everyone's under scrutiny

    In the mid-90s, an idea was stirring in Congress. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing showed that terrorists could use student visas to enter the country. To counter such abuse of visas, some thought the government could create an electronic tracking system to track student visa holders. In 1996 a pilot system was developed, but higher education officials deemed it unwarranted and too intrusive. With support in Washington waning, the pilot didn't go anywhere. Until September 11, 2001.

    Word on the street was that if a dude looked foreign, he could be Al qaeda. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed in Congress. They knew the real threat wasn't Mid-East students. It was mid-term elections. Within a few weeks of the attacks, House and Senate leaders showed their due patriotism (i.e. blanket support for the Bush Administration) in approving the USA PATRIOT Act, a constitutionally unsound bill that created the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) - a $36 million dollar web-based database that would store up-to-date info on all international students in the US. Available in real-time to just about any federal agency, SEVIS' data set includes a student's name, country of origin, current address, academic major, student status, financial information, information on "misconduct," and any other information deemed "relevant" to an agency.

    Think the Department of Education wanted to collect all this info? Guess again. It's the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Immigration Services, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other gun-toting agencies that would like to know whether you've gotten a new apartment, changed majors, or decided to drop a course. And who's digging up dirt on you and handing it over spit-shined to the feds? Your own university. In fact, legally bound to the terms of SEVIS, university administrators and staff have no control over what or how student information is used by federal agencies, nor do they have the right to tell you when or why your records are being accessed.

    In SEVIS, federal agencies are given an unprecedented degree of access to private student information. It turns the Family Education Records Protection Act on its head and exacerbates international students' already vulnerable legal status. For these students, simple academic choices can carry grave consequences with respect to visa status and lawful presence within US borders. Such was the case in December 2002 when six students at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado were arrested on no other charge than for failure to hold a full-time course-load. By the logic of homeland security, not only are these students "illegal," they may very well be plotting the next big terror attack.

    Advocates of SEVIS substantiate this criminalization of students with the fact that one of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers entered the US on a student visa. However, that's where the correlation between terrorism and higher education ends. Of over 30 million visas issued annually, student visas comprise only two percent. The US awards over 60 percent of student visas to nationals of Asian, Latin American, and European countries not associated by the Department of Homeland Security with support of terrorism. Moreover, the one September 11 hijacker who used a student visa as his entryway never attended a university. Similarly, the two hijackers who received student visas after already legally entering the US never attended two- or four-year universities. Is it any wonder that since its inception, SEVIS has not contributed to a single conviction of a university student on charges related to terrorism?

    Meanwhile, by delaying the processing of student information and in many instances misreporting submitted data, SEVIS has actually weakened domestic security. Sadly, the system has succeeded only in jeopardizing the security of international students themselves. "Several schools have seen their student records mixed up with those of other institutions," Government Executive magazine reported in July 2003. "In other instances, pieces of data are jumbled."

    Unfortunately, this test-run has very real costs. Technical problems have left more than one student in a legal lurch. Last year a Washington University student was suspended and jailed when her SEVIS file became inaccessible. The scenario was worse for Michigan State University doctoral candidate Walied Fayed. After filling out the wrong type of immigration form, he was summarily deported, leaving his wife and two-year-old daughter behind.

    If that nightmare became your reality, you would likely expect a university official to intervene in your support. But that doesn't happen when you're dealing with SEVIS. Under federal compliance, your university has its hands tied. And adding insult to injury, to pay for the system, each university passes an estimated annual cost of $300,000 on to you the student.

    Far from "foreign," international students are classmates, TAs, and members of student organizations. Like all students, they constitute a tremendous asset for higher education and society at large. They diversify campuses in terms of both culture and politics, contribute invaluable efforts to American graduate research, and pour over $12 billion dollars into the US economy annually. That's a lot to lose under the pretext of security.

    While this situation calls for action, uniting progressive/ leftist campus groups and the targeted community remains a critical obstacle. International students are scared to act because of their precarious legal and student status. Yet, many international students are out there leading the way. In December 2003, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, international graduate students organized with the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) to resist SEVIS-associated fees leveled only on international students. In Spring 2004 during a 48- hour hunger strike, over 200 international students refused to cooperate with the $65 "pay-to-spy" fee. In solidarity, some students with citizenship also refused to pay a similar amount of their own student fees, and as many as ten academic departments wrote letters in support of the protest. But because failure to pay student fees leaves students in "bad standing" with the university - and therefore, non-compliance with SEVIS - the international students in this campaign could pay the greater cost. At least one now faces deportation.

    Whether you are an international student or not, the stakes are high. SEVIS is both a preview and a component of a larger tracking system that will monitor all visitors to the US. While SEVIS has found little success in handling data from 600,000 students, the US VISIT system will attempt to process personal information, including fingerprints, from the over 30 million annual visitors to the US. It's anybody's guess how many innocent people will be detained, investigated, and deported based on glitches in the most draconian experiment in Big Brotherhood our nation has ever witnessed. This is not a battle for tomorrow. It's here today. It's called SEVIS.



    A recent graduate of the University of Texas, Zafar S. Shah is an organizer for the RadDesi Summer, a Texas-based social justice activism workshop for South Asian youth.

     

    Top

    From Vieques to the University of Puerto Rico

    The Struggle Continues (la luche sigue!)

    By Héctor Rosario, Ph.D.
    Page 20

    "When the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPR) announced it was building a new, $150,000 Air Force ROTC facility on campus, dozens of activists from the Frente Universitario por la Desmilitarización y la Educación began what would become a six-month campin at the construction site. Calling on the university to invest in students not soldiers, 30 students also took over the Army ROTC building for 24 hours in January, redecorating it with antiwar murals. Victory came in March, when the university agreed to devote the new building to academic use and to refuse ROTC additional space on campus."

    - Mother Jones

    Victory in Vieques

    It's before dawn and already almost thirty students are assembling to begin the takeover of an Army ROTC building at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. It's been planned for weeks, with both legal and professional advice. The morale is high and the determination to oust the military program from their campus is resolute. Harvard and Yale expelled their programs in the sixties, but they don't have the additional problem of being located in one of the few remaining colonies of the world. But there they are, following on the footsteps of their predecessors at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, who also attempted to oust the program, with the difference that now their successors have resolved to complete the task left unfinished in the sixties.

    As soon as the ROTC officers open the heavy wooden doors of the beautiful structure the Army occupies but belongs to the UPR, the students swarm the building: four do a sit-in inside the administrative office, half-a-dozen paint anti-war and anti-ROTC murals on two of the outside walls, while the rest hold the doors to keep control of the main lobby. The officers are upset but feel powerless in front of a group of highly organized and disciplined nonviolent demonstrators. The ROTC personnel are puzzled as to what to do in such circumstances. They wish for a more favorable scenario where they can employ their violent skills. What a great disappointment.

    Security officers come quickly to the scene but soon realize, as expected, that the symbolic takeover is a new tactic of the same group of students that has kept a civil disobedience encampment for the past four months at the foundations of an Air Force ROTC structure being rebuilt. Certainly, the construction there stopped and it will not be allowed to continue until there is a commitment by the university administration to return the building to the broader college community. But back to the Army ROTC protest, here they are again, quite a few students accompanied by professors.

    The day goes on and tensions rise. The cadets are angry and aggressive but the students claim this as their building, a building that was meant for the education of a country not for the military training of its citizens that will eventually participate in the massacres of children and the destruction of infrastructures in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other "pre-emptive" war. Not in our name. Not with our resources. Not anymore!

    At night, we hold a vigil and have an open house for the university community. We watch documentaries about Iraq and the School of the Americas, while another group fraternizes with music. It's time to rejoice but not much. We recall that while we taste a small victory, Iraqis are resisting the occupation and many of them are dying. Yes, many soldiers fighting in US uniform, including over 3,000 from Puerto Rico, are also dying. Even though they made that dreadful choice and must be held accountable for it, we still have to bear the pains of the families disrupted by death, mutilation, and disease.

    Morning comes and it's time to pack and go…for now. We declare a temporary victory: we took over the building, reclaimed it as cultural patrimony, and left peacefully. We will now face the consequences of our actions, whatever those may be. The administration seems clueless and feeble in front of our ingenuity and resolve. What they don't understand is that the successful demilitarization campaign of Puerto Rico did not end with Vieques. There's still work to be done.

    Civil disobedience and direct action protests will continue until the demilitarization of the University of Puerto Rico is attained. The encampment that students have maintained at the former Air Force ROTC structure stands proudly today as a symbol of dignity and perseverance. At the site, a small concrete lot, the students meet, eat, sleep, and coordinate their next move. All throughout, the students have braved everything from hostile administration officials and security officers to inclement weather and lack of basic needs like water and electricity. But again, there's still work to be done.

    We urge anti-war activists across the United States to help us disseminate our message. We must fight the insanity of war from every angle. This requires ending all ROTC programs and their recruitment activities on our college campuses.

    Frente Universitario por la Desmilitarización y la Educación (FUDE)
    fude_rum at hotmail dot com (787) 969-0494



    Héctor Rosario, 30, is known for his activism in favor of the demilitarization of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. He has a PhD in mathematics education from Columbia University. Contact Rosario at hrosario@math.uprm.edu

     

    Top

    Post 9-11 Repression

    The Effects on Students

    Adapted from studentsforfreedom.org
    Page 21

    Under the USA PATRIOT Act and Other Post-911 Policies the Government Can Now:

    1. Label Us "Terrorists" if We Belong to a Student Activist Group

    The USA PATRIOT Act broadly expands the official definition of terrorism, so that student groups that engage in certain types of civil disobedience could very well find themselves labeled as terrorists (Sections 411, 802). The Sheriff of Hennepin County, Minnesota declared that the student groups "Anti Racist Action", "Students Against War", and "Arise!" were potential terrorist threats.

    2. Seize Our Student Records

    The USA PATRIOT Act gives law enforcement access to student educational records without probable cause of crime. (Section 507) According to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), about 200 colleges and universities have turned over student information to the FBI, INS, and other law enforcement officials.

    3. Collect information about what books we take out of our school library, what we study, and what we purchase from our school bookstore.

    The USA PATRIOT Act gives law enforcement broad access to any types of records - sales, library, financial, medical, etc. - without probable cause of a crime. It also prohibits the holders of this information, like University librarians, from disclosing that they have produced such records, under the threat of jail time (Section 215, 505). A University of Illinois survey of U.S. public libraries found that at least 545 libraries had been asked for records by law enforcement in the year after September 11, 2001.

    4. Search Our College Dorm Rooms, Apartments or Homes and Not Even Tell Us.

    The USA PATRIOT Act allows the law enforcement to conduct secret "sneak and peek" searches of a dorm, apartment or home. Investigators can enter a place of residence, take pictures and seize items without informing the occupant that a warrant was issued for an indefinite period of time. (Section 213) The government refuses to disclose how many times it has used this power.

    5. Monitor Student E-mail and Internet Activity

    The USA PATRIOT Act permits the government to monitor Internet traffic and e-mail communications on any Internet service provider without probable cause of crime by obtaining detailed "routing" information like a web address. While this provision is supposedly aimed at lawbreakers, it sweeps broadly because e-mails and Internet traffic information of innocent students cannot be separated from the activity of targeted individuals (Section 216). The government refuses to disclose how many times it has used this power.

    6. Spy on Student Political Meetings or Religious Ceremonies

    The USA PATRIOT Act permits a vast array of information gathering on student political meetings and religious ceremonies to be collected-often by campus cops on behalf of the FBI-and shared with the CIA (and other non- law enforcement officials) without proper judicial oversight or other safeguards. This law effectively puts the CIA back in the business of spying on students, including US citizens (Sections 203 and 901).

     

    Top

    18 ways to Stand Up for Freedom

    Adapted from studentsforfreedom.org
    Page 22

    1. Start a petition to address an important student concern relating to the Patriot Act.

  • Host a peaceful rally to oppose the Patriot Act at your school or near government offices in your community.
  • Have an educational tabling session at your school to inform fellow students about issues relating to the Patriot Act and its effect on students.
  • Pass a resolution through your school student council or administration stating that the school will not abide by Patriot Act policy that erodes civil liberties, freedom of speech, and the right to free assembly.
  • Clarify dorm search procedures and information privacy policies with your school and write an editorial explaining these policies in the school newspaper.
  • Hold a teach-in to inform students and faculty about Patriot Act issues.
  • Create an informational Patriot Act pamphlet that informs students at your school of the effects of the Patriot act on student privacy and freedom, or use the poster on the previous page.
  • Hold the first meeting of a coalition of students at your school committed to opposing the Patriot Act.
  • Organize a group of students to e-mail or call you local, state, or federal representatives (or the U.S. President) about a Patriot Act issue that is relevant in your area. (www.aclu.org for more info and government directories)
  • Start a student petition to address an important Patriot Act concern at your school or in your community. Once you have reached your goal of signatures, present the petition to the school administration or city council.
  • Write an article or editorial to your school newspaper explaining the negative implications of the Patriot Act.
  • Call in to a local or school radio station to notify listeners of upcoming anti-PATRIOT Act events and the importance of civil liberties issues to students.
  • Organize a debate at your school to analyze how the Patriot Act affects the lives of students and what actions your school should take to ensure that student rights are protected.
  • Organize a scheduled walk-out of classes in protest of your schools compliance with the Patriot Act.
  • Organize a discussion group to focus on civil liberties and Patriot Act issues at a popular school hangout.
  • Ask your social studies, government, or civic teacher(s) to incorporate civil liberties and the Patriot Act into a lesson or to make a general announcement in class.
  • Organize a campaign to check out all the books from your school library that were once censored and banned from libraries. Ask the librarians whether your actions are being monitored. (http://digital.library.upenn.edu/books/banned-books.html for more information)
  • Visit your local police and/or campus police and personally hand the desk officer a letter signed by young people that conveys an understanding of rights and thanks them for remembering to respect those rights in performing their jobs.
  •  

     

    Top

    Watching Them, Watching Us, Watching Them, Watching Us.

    By Forrest Wilder
    Page 23

    Surveillance in Schools

    Surveillance

    Many of us attend - or attended - schools that feel like prisons. Between the metal detectors, cops in the hallways, zero tolerance policies, and endless learning drills, it's no wonder that we sometimes want to organize a jailbreak. Now, at universities and middle and high schools around the country, we have a more subtle but no less sinister, disciplinarian to contend with: surveillance cameras.

    In the name of security, school officials have been installing thousands of inconspicuous cameras in hallways, commons areas, libraries, cafeterias, public streets, even classrooms. At the same time, many of these same officials have refused to disclose the number, location, or details of operation of these cameras. For example, at the University of Texas-Austin, administrators went so far as to file a lawsuit against the student newspaper because its editorial staff had requested information on campus surveillance. When the university lost the suit, they hired lobbyists who convinced lawmakers in the state legislature to pass a bill which allowed UT to keep information on cameras secret. Similarly, Harvard currently refuses to disclose any information on its cameras.

    Despite assurances to the contrary, cameras have cropped up in locker rooms, staff lounges, even kindergarten bathrooms! In 2003 the New York Times reported, "cameras at a school in Livingston, Tenn., recorded 10- to 14-year-old boys and girls undressing in adjacent changing areas in preparation for basketball, and stored the images on a computer accessible through the Internet, according to a federal lawsuit filed by parents."

    While few people will stand for this level of privacy violation, far too many parents, teachers, and students have come to accept - or have downright embraced - surveillance cameras. In Biloxi, Alabama, where the school district has installed cameras in all of its 500 classrooms as well as hallways and other commons areas, one teacher told the Times, "There's an acceptance because we're all used to being watched by cameras anyway, whenever we go to the grocery store or to pump gas or visit an ATM."

    However, what this teacher describes - a fatalistic attitude towards new, intrusive technology - is exactly the problem. Why should we give up our right to privacy just because a technology now exists to eliminate it? In the current atmosphere of collective security hysteria no place has been left immune. As government, corporations, and private homeowners jump on the security-at-any-cost bandwagon, even small schools in small town America are investing in surveillance systems.

    At the same time, surveillance technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated and affordable. Cameras are disguised to look like streetlights, smoke alarms, sprinklers, etc. Relatively cheap security cameras have zoom, tilt, and recording functions. Digital cameras can dump hours of high-resolution footage onto computers for perusal at a later date; alternately, the images can be fed in real-time to the principal's office. Some systems can even upload instantaneously to the Internet.

    Proponents of surveillance insist that monitoring and recording behavior deters mischief and helps solve crimes once they've been committed. While it's true that reviewing surveillance footage has led to the arrest of some perpetrators, there is no evidence that cameras statistically lead to a drop in crime. In fact after studying student behavior in a public high school over three years, researchers at the University of Alberta concluded that students did not behave "better" with cameras observing them. They did determine however that "citizenship becomes passive, prescriptive and disembodied as students follow rules and adhere to authority."

    In high schools, surveillance treats students the same as prisoners and criminals. Instead of trusting youth and treating them like soon-to-be-adults, school officials assume that students, as a class, are a criminal element and must be spied upon. Part of growing up is screwing up, making mistakes and learning from them. Beneath the constant, unblinking gaze of surveillance cameras, no such thing is tolerated. Freedom withers in the face of security.

    In universities, cameras pose a threat to academic freedom and constitute a direct rollback on open government and civil liberties. On many campuses, it's a well-known fact that campus police, as well as local police departments and the FBI, monitor student groups and sometimes spy on meetings. Cameras may not be set up explicitly to monitor political activity but the PATRIOT Act - its provisions and the atmosphere it creates - has cleared the way for such potential abuse. In any case, there's no reason why we should give officials the benefit of the doubt, especially when so many of them are pursuing the path of secrecy when it comes to discussing surveillance with the public.

    What's really at stake in this new age of surveillance is not the proper way to fight wrongdoing, but the right of young people to be autonomous, self-determining people free from the constant gaze of the camera.

    Resistance is NOT futile!

    In London, it is estimated that the average citizen is captured on security cameras 300 times a day. The U.S. is headed in the same direction, but thankfully many people are not taking the trend lying down.

    At Pennsylvania State University, students, faculty, and members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have actively resisted the implementation of surveillance cameras on a street adjoining their campus. Students organized a rally with speakers from Student Government, civil liberties groups, and other concerned citizens to protest the cameras. They made signs that read, "No Big Brother" and "Stop the Cameras." A petition circulated and 2,000 signatures were eventually gathered. 150 students showed up to a City Council meeting when the issue was brought up for discussion. Students convinced the 240- member Penn State Faculty Council to unanimously vote to limit the places and circumstances in which cameras could be deployed.

    Although the cameras were eventually installed, concessions were won: the cameras will be equipped with a feature that disables them from recording through glass; video footage will be destroyed after 14 days; and a committee, which includes a student, was established to ensure that the camera implementation is open to public scrutiny. Students have not given up the fight however. Plans have been made to bring up a referendum on whether the city council is allowed to pay for and maintain surveillance equipment.

    Students at the University of Texas, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, plan on lobbying the Texas Legislature to strike the provision passed in 2003 that allows their university to keep information on surveillance cameras a secret. Meanwhile, UT Watch (utwatch.org) has begun mapping the locations of cameras on campus and publishing their locations online.

    A group called the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) performs guerilla theatre on the streets of New York to manifest their opposition to the proliferation of surveillance cameras. Under the watchful eye of cameras on busses, outside corporate headquarters, in the park, and on campuses, they act out clever, if not odd, plays that highlight the terror and freedom-squashing aspects of a surveillance culture. Their performances draw quite a crowd, not to mention press coverage and fodder for their website (www.notbored.org/the-scp.html). One of the members of the SCP gives guided walking tours of NYC's many, many cameras. The important thing to note is that the SCP is not so much a group as an idea. Similar actions have taken place all over the world: in Sweden, Italy, and even Arizona! What about your hometown?



    Forrest Wilder is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where he co-founded UT Watch (utwatch.org), a university watchdog group that tracks the militarization of UT. He is an editor of this publication.

     

    Top

    Suits 'N' Spooks

    How to Research, Expose, and Challenge Military and Corporate Influence on Your Campus

    By John Peck
    Pages 24-25
    Corporate Campus

    Many students get loads of free advice when they set off for their academic adventure - study hard, meet new people, keep your room clean. Actually, these tired clichés constitute a solid game plan for the campus activist interested in uncovering corporate- military influence on our campuses. Despite their reputation as institutions of higher learning and progressive idealism, colleges and universities are now being invaded by the dark side of the force - namely the military-industrial complex. Laboratory facilities, classroom technologies, even university officials themselves, have succumbed to the corrupting influence of the profit motive. In a period of runaway tuition and taxpayer backlash, it is tempting to have a "take the money and run" attitude towards government contracts and corporate handouts. As a result many schools are now held hostage by someone else's bottomline.

    What's the Big Deal?

    Beyond the obvious "we need their money, there's no other choice" justification, there are several other arguments that corporate apologists routinely trundle out to placate critics. First, is the argument that there's a fundamental difference between basic science and applied research, and that any pursuit of the former is apolitical and value neutral. This is total bunk. A current example is the National Institute of Health's (NIH) "Violence Initiative" that provides millions in federal funding to identify the genetic "cause" of violence among inner city youth so as to develop improved drugs to treat this "disease." It is even harder to see the Pentagon as a disinterested patron of university science. Knowing all about the performance characteristics of metallic alloys and the explosive capacities of chemical agents has tangible life-and-death consequences.



    Universities and colleges exist to satisfy the educational needs of students and provide knowledge for the common good - not to subsidize corporate profit or facilitate state terrorism.



    A second argument one often hears is that corporate/military funding improves instructional opportunities at the university. In other words, teaching stands to benefit from nuclear fusion laboratories, three-dimensional atom probe microscopes, and distance education (DE) classrooms. Given dwindling public resources, bloated allocations for hyper-specialized engineering and biotechnology programs translates into less support for ethnic studies and environmental sciences. University of Wisconsin at Madison reflects a national trend as half of its budget is earmarked for research and barely a third goes towards instruction.

    Third is that so-called public/private partnerships are socially and economically beneficial, trickling goodies down to every last taxpayer. Of course, this is based on the false notion that ANY activity which increases gross national product (GNP) is "good" (like trafficking cocaine, dumping toxics, peddling weapons, and running sweatshops). Most people know better, though. This is especially true for family farmers who have witnessed the hijacking of research agendas and extension services by corporate agribusiness in order to make it dependent upon costly inputs: hybrid seeds, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, machinery, irrigation, irradiation, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), advanced meat recovery and global positioning systems (GPS).

    Lastly, there is the old constructive engagement idea, whereby educational institutions are thought to have an enlightening influence over corporate practice and/or military policy. We're told to learn to play the game better and not divorce ourselves from the real world of greed and conflict. Following this rationale, it would have made perfect sense for universities back in the 1850s to buy into slavery and conduct research on a kinder gentler form of human bondage. Of course, those familiar with the anti-apartheid struggle or the anti-sweatshop movement realize that this is just an excuse for prolonged profiteering. Are cluster bombs falling on Iraq today any better thanks to investment and investigation by our colleges?

    What most cheerleaders for corporate/military research on campus won't tell you is hidden in the fine print of contracts. Professors, researchers, graduate students, and project assistants must now navigate a whole array of gag rules and publication embargoes to protect proprietary information and national security. Peer review has been tossed out the window as licensed software programs, chemical processes, testing protocols, and genetic sequences are rendered immune to independent scientific verification. Faculty are hired (and fired) based upon whether they can entice corporate dollars and produce marketable results. Some even buy their way out of teaching, so they can focus full-time on for-profit tinkering and outside consulting. Passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980 allowed universities to patent (and profit) from such work, while the 1981 Recovery Tax Law enabled corporations to count gifts to schools as federal tax deductions. Given the fortune to be made, it's not that surprising to hear the director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) at a recent patenting seminar instruct his audience that UW-Madison "was no longer interested in the scientific value of their work, merely its commercial value." What was once a noble quest for truth and reason has become a crude mercenary project.

    Even more insidious is how this siphons off taxpayer subsidies as corporations use universities to do their research without paying the full cost. The Pentagon also uses mandated programs such as the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and the National Security Education Program (NSEP) to leverage extra funding and force young people into military service in order to get an education. On many campuses, military research is now at higher levels than during the worst years of the Vietnam War, with lucrative new programs for space-based defense, biowarfare, and counterterrorism being tossed out like candy. What Can One Do...?

    Rule #1: Study Hard

    Uncovering and challenging corporate/military influence on campus is actually rather simple. For instance, university officials must often file a "Statement of Economic Interests" with some sort of ethics board before they take office. Researchers receiving federal money have a similar "Financial Disclosure" form. Current investment holdings and campus research contracts are considered an open record at public schools, and are thus available for citizen review. At a private school this discovery process can be more challenging, but finding a sympathetic office secretary or graduate student to "leak" the necessary information is not impossible. Tipping off an investigative journalist about suspicious activities can also get campus insiders talking.

    Invest in your kid

    Careful reading of press releases, news stories, and departmental brag publications (archived on your school's website) may uncover other interesting tidbits. One sleuthing routine is to use Lexis/Nexis at your library, typing in the name of your school (or more specifically, a regent or professor) with a corporation to see in what context they both appear. In the case of military research, you can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for work unit summaries to the Defense Technical Information Center (www.dtic.mil). Be prepared to decipher lots of technogibberish!

    In order to get information on a particular corporation, there are other internet resources at your fingertips. If the corporation is publicly traded, then it must file reports - such as the 10-K and shareholder proxy statement, DEF14A - with the Securities and Exchange Commission (www.sec.gov) These are good places to find out just who the major stockholders are, which lawsuits are pending, and what shareholder resolutions are being considered. If your school has over $100 million in holdings, it must also file a 13F with the SEC, outlining these investments. You can get an annual report by owning one share of stock, asking the company for it (for your "term paper"), from corporate recruiters, or on the Internet. Corporate recruiters on your campus and your own career advising office can also provide such materials.

    Rule #2: Make New Friends

    It isn't that hard to stumble across outrageous examples of corporate/military influence on campus. The real trick is finding a good way to disseminate information and mobilize opposition. Likely allies would include labor unions, family farmers, people of color groups, religious organizations, peace and social justice networks, and even conservative groups that will oppose corporate welfare. Be sure to get your exposé out in a variety of forms, not just the usual press release or public forum. Why not try a series of "unwanted" posters or even trading cards with your favorite corporate factoids about university regents and administrators? Or better yet, as a summer project, compile and publish a Dis-Orientation Manual to distribute the first week of school, countering the university's propaganda and cataloguing all the corruption on your campus? For some samples of these items, contact the Madison Infoshop, 1019 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703 tel. #608-262-9036 www.madisoninfoshop.org.

    Rule #3: Keep Your Room Clean

    Universities and colleges exist to satisfy the educational needs of students and provide knowledge for the common good - not to subsidize corporate profit or facilitate state terrorism. School officials and professors are public servants, not mindless drones on the auction block. These facts are conveniently forgotten by most people in power, so part of your public duty is to remind them of their place and purpose. Like a civic-minded King Midas, you should be able to touch any aspect of your campus and make it not only socially responsible but also democratically accountable.

    As you come to grips with your school's status quo, ask yourself a few simple questions: 1) Who is framing the agenda? 2) Who is making the decisions? 3) Who is benefiting from the outcome? If people you know are NOT part of the answer, then your campus is suffering from an acute bout of creeping corporatization and needs a revolutionary overhaul! Don't accept reformist diversionary tactics like another ad hoc committee to do another fact-finding study ad nauseum. As concerned students, educators, and sovereign citizens, we deserve more: an elected board of regents, an independent ombudsperson position, a citizen review board for investment/procurement policies, and a nostrings attached common funding pool for public interest research. In the late 19th century a wise New York Supreme Court Justice wrote that "the life of a corporation is worth less than that of the humblest citizen," and this is the same principle we should adopt in our ongoing campus struggles for social change.



    John Peck is active in the Madison Infoshop (www.madisoninfoshop.org).

    An updated, abridged version of a chapter that originally appeared in Campus Inc. (Prometheus Books 2000).

     

    Top

    Militaring the Youth

    The Militarization and Military Recruitment of Youth

    By Oskar Castro
    Page 26-27

    War is often seen as a necessary evil, but how many people question the true motivations for war unless they happen to somehow fall victim to it? The United States military is the largest in the world and more money fuels this nation's military than fuels all of the world's militaries… combined! US soldiers are stationed all around the globe. Some are engaged in warfare while others are preparing for it. To most people in the US much of what our military has done in the recent past, as well as what it is doing in the present is a mystery. War, and at the very least the preparation for war, has become a way of life that, until recently, very few in the mainstream have dared to question.

    Dick Cheney once said that the military is not a jobs program, but rather an entity designed to prepare for and wage war. How many young people ever consider what dying in a war means?

    Here are a few examples of the ways in which the military is trying to win the hearts and minds of youth:

    Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp

    Berthing soldiers

    Initially started as a military readiness program for the nation in 1916, JROTC is one of the most challenging invasions of our civil society by the military. JROTC programs are proliferating rapidly within inner city, rural and mountain school districts, particularly in schools that have youth of color as their majority population and/or where the marginalization is due to class and economic factors. Roughly 3,200 public schools, including both elementary and high schools, have a JROTC program. Some 330,000 cadets participate nationwide.

    JROTC proponents say that the program instills citizenship and leadership while promoting self-discipline and academic excellence. However, there are no studies that support these claims that support these claims. The military's own studies do reveal that between 45% and 55% of students who graduate from high school with two or more years of JROTC experience wind up in the military. The military says that the program is not a recruitment tool, but according to former secretary of defense, William Cohen, it is one of the best recruitment tools the military has.

    In JROTC classrooms, young people are being taught military history in place of traditional US history and, in many schools, they are training with weapons. Another concern is that JROTC can be expensive, especially for impoverished schools with few educational and extra-curricular resources.


    FYI


    Over 200 women have been raped since March 2003 in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. One VA survey done in 1996 reported 90% of recent women veterans experienced sexual harassment, one third reported being raped. Sexual abuse is rampant in the armed forces, as is racism, and homophobia. There are over 30,000 non-citizens in the US armed forces. There have even been reports in the press about military recruiters crossing the Mexican border to recruit in schools in Tijuana, as well as recruiters going across the Canadian borders to recruit Native American youth from Canada.

    -Kevin Ramirez, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors

    Military Testing

    About 14,000 high schools nationwide give a test to students sponsored by the US military called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). All persons enlisting in the US military are required to take ASVAB. It determines whether a potential recruit is qualified for the military and for certain military jobs. Military recruiters also claim that it will help a person choose a civilian career, but that is not what it was designed for.

    ASVAB is a three-hour test that consists of 10 sections designed to look for talent and natural skills in subject areas that are considered important for different military jobs. How is it used for recruitment purposes in high schools?

    The military uses ASVAB to do targeted recruitment of young people. Recruiters give special attention to students in the 11th or 12th grade who meet minimum standards - what they refer to as "prequalified leads." They use test information (scores, name, address, etc.) to identify and reach young people they hope to sign up. Recruiters aggressively approach these young people by letters, phone calls, and visits to home and school. Students may receive calls from recruiters even if they say they are not interested in joining the military. They do not take "no" for an answer. One often-used tactic is to leave a message for a student telling him/her of an appointment with a recruiter, even if the student didn't ask for one.

    Hollywood & Pop Culture

    Pop culture trends have also been adapted to fit the arsenals of the military recruiters. A six million dollar video game was recently released by the military called, America's Army. It is an avowed recruitment tool targeting young people ages 13-26. It is distributed free at Army recruitment offices and can also be acquired online for free. Young people who play the game online are tracked and military recruiters target those who advance in "virtual" rank and prowess.

    Currently, the Army has a number of brightly painted Humvees, with noble images of soldiers adorning their frames and intensely powerful sound systems blaring hip-hop and contemporary R&B music. These vehicles are touring the nation showing up on high school and college campuses, at street festivals, and in conjunction with concerts. Young men and women flock to the Hummers like moths to a flame when they appear. The soldiers look like them, talk like them, like their music and seem successful. Many who never thought of themselves as "military material" reconsider when they see how much "fun" it might be to be a soldier.

    The truth is that most people do not join the military to fight wars. 33% of men and 33% of women join the military to help fund their education. 34% of men and 31% of women join for job training. These men and women may have some sense of duty to their nation, but their motives are usually based on a perceived necessity or, in some cases, desperation. These people are often recruited with false or misleading promises such as:

    YOU CAN GET ANY JOB YOU WANT. GUARANTEED!

    YOU CAN TRY THE MILITARY OUT FOR A FEW MONTHS AND IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT YOU CAN QUIT.

    YOU ARE GUARANTEED TO GET $50,000 FOR COLLEGE.

    YOU WILL NEVER SEE A DAY OF COMBAT.

    The reality is that no job is ever guaranteed in the military, and you can't just quit the military. You have to take the least desirable or hard-to-fill jobs and QUALIFY in order to get the full $50,000 for college, which only about 20% of soldiers ever get. With war on every horizon combined with the prospect that the US will continue to employ pre-emptive strike strategies, no soldier is immune from the possibility of combat.

    The military is everywhere. It is in our movie theaters. It is in our computers. It is on our television sets. It is in our newspapers. People are concerned that we are headed toward a day when the nation's youth are no longer recruited, but rather conscripted. Perhaps that day may come, but until then we must focus our energy on making sure that all people in the United States of America are not blindly seduced by military recruiters.

    Army's New Recruiting Techniques

    One of the Army Cinema vans. The Army's 17 vans visit a total of 2000 schools per year, propagandizing 380,000 "recruitable" students.

    To learn more, visit www.youth4peace.org or call the American Friends Service Committee's National Youth & Militarism Program at 215-241-7176.



    Oskar Castro coordinates the American Friends Service Committee National Youth and Militarism Program. He can be reached at OCastro at afsc dot org

     

    Top

    Offensive Biology

    Is bio-"defense" a bust?

    By Nick Schwellenbach
    Pages 28-29
    Bio-bust

    A biodefense lab may soon be coming to a campus or community near you, if one hasn't already. These labs are the most noticeable evidence of the government's rapidly expanding biotechnology complex. Although the labs do some indispensable work in the medical realm, their rapid expansion is also tied directly to "fighting terrorism." The rationale behind the expansion of biodefense labs is that terrorists or "rogue states" could use biological or chemical weapons against the US. To be prepared for and effectively deal with such an attack, researchers at biodefense labs must research and experiment with potential biological agents in order to devise antidotes and develop counter-terror measures.

    In actuality much of the work being done at these so-called "hot" labs threatens international treaties, public health and, at current levels of funding, is wasteful. Enveloped in a shroud of secrecy and missing proper oversight, public debate on whether or not the labs are fulfilling their mission is squelched. The truth is that what's being justified as making us safer and more secure may be achieving the opposite.

    According to Ari Schuler, an analyst at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, there has been $14.5 billion spent on civilian biodefense programs since 2001. The fiscal year 2005 budget is 18 times that of 2001. Adjusted for inflation, annual federal spending on biodefense is greater than money spent on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb.

    As of July 2004, 11,119 workers and 317 labs have been approved to work on germ experiments. And these numbers continue to grow. Much of the federal spending blitz is directed towards building a plethora of new labs for biodefense.

    Known by their designation "BSL", short for BioSafety Level, biological agent laboratories range from one to four, four being the highest designation given to labs that handle the world's deadliest diseases. Two massive new BSL-4 labs are being built at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and at Boston University. In all, there are at least 24 major planned BSL-3 and BSL-4 facilities. Nearly 50 already exist.

    Richard H. Ebright, a biochemist at Rutgers University, believes the legitimate needs of biodefense "can be met entirely with the construction of a single large facility in a secure environment," rather than with many large and small facilities across the nation.

    An experienced anthrax researcher at Louisiana State University concurs with Ebright's assessment of the biodefense boom. Martin E. Hugh-Jones says, on the whole, "I think we've spent an awful lot of money, and I'm not sure we're much better off."

    The primary motive for universities seeking a biodefense research is monetary. Since the dry-up in corporate funding for biotechnology, federal funding is picking up the slack and shaping university research. The Austin-American Statesman, noted that "grants for [biotechnology] research and development from industry dropped by nearly 14% last year to about $26 million. But thanks to a 12% increase in federal research funding last year, the total amount of money spent on research at [the University of Texas] continued to rise." The same article concluded, "In university laboratories across the country, such things as declining private funding and changing national priorities are driving a fundamental shift in research and development."

    The flood of federal funding for biodefense research is skewing researchers in biological fields away from research which may benefit society more, such as cures for cancer or HIV. The nature of classified biodefense research leads to the construction of barriers that inhibit the free exchange of knowledge in the university, threatening academic freedom.

    And while the US is pouring billions into hot labs manipulating obscure diseases and making bio-weapons, the ball has been dropped on a mundane problem-having enough flu shots-a common predictable disease that costs the lives of 20,000 Americans a year. This begs the question: What kind of bio-"defense" does the US really have?

    Unleashing terror?

    The biggest problem with bio-"defense" labs is that they are contradictory in nature. In short, biodefense labs may actually be heightening the risk for people to be harmed by biological weapons. With more labs and more people working with deadly agents the chances for biological accidents and public exposure are multiplied. Not to mention the fact that the labs themselves become ideal targets for a terrorist attack.

    Ebright agrees, saying that "With the expansion of the biodefense effort - especially to institutions and individuals without experience with lethal biological agents - accidents are more likely."

    Likewise the potential for terrorism may be increased with the proliferation of these labs. First of all, the number of persons with the skills necessary to create, cultivate and weaponize lethal agents will drastically increase. In fact, this danger has already become a reality. For example, the weapons-grade anthrax used in the anthrax mailings after 9/11 was almost definitely from a domestic source, probably from the US military laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Absent from most analyses of bioterrorism is the recognition that national biological programs are the source for many agents, and provide the training to weaponize and deliver agents - the real trick with successfully executing biological warfare. The possibility of similar incidents occurring in the future is now increasing.

    The fact that many of these new labs are being located in densely populated areas, such as the BSL-4 being built in Boston, makes the potential consequences of an accident even greater. Alan Zelicoff, a biodefense consultant at ARES Corp., a risk analysis firm, bluntly says, "These facilities probably ought not be located in a heavily-populated area. How do you contain smoke? [referring to the accidental release of aerosolized agents]"

    Furthermore, the mechanisms meant to insure public safety are hardly functioning, if at all, at many universities. Dozens of Institutional Biosafety Committees meant to protect the public and environment from biotechnology experiments are often derelict in their duties - keeping inadequate records and almost never meeting. Under federal guidelines, minutes of IBC meetings "shall be made available to the public upon request." But the Sunshine Project, a biodefense watchdog group, has run into numerous difficulties in achieving disclosure from several - naming Princeton University, the University of Delaware, the University of Vermont and the University of Texas-Southwestern IBCs as the worst. According to Edward Hammond, Sunshine Project director, "these universities' biosafety committees have nothing but contempt for public disclosure. They black out their meeting minutes or write down virtually nothing, so as to frustrate public access."

    With the kinds of agents and work going on at biodefense facilities the public should be wary. This last March Southern Research Institute of Frederick, Maryland accidentally shipped vials of live anthrax to a California facility. Another incident occurred last year when a loose monkey escaped from a University of California at Davis facility that prepares animals for biodefense experiments. Also, last year a Texas Technological University scientist lost plague samples prompting a bioterrorism scare.

    Texas Tech is an example of a university with a strong relationship to the US biodefense program. The US Army Soldier Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) funds 75% of Texas Tech's gentle-sounding Institute for Environmental and Human Health's research contracts. Some of this research may be violating the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits offensive biological weapons development. SBCCOM projects include making toxic cocktails by mixing different biological agents together. This particular program does not appear to respond to any existing threat and can be construed as furthering research and development of US offensive bio-weapons.

    Other US programs chipping away at the BWC include an agricultural biowarfare program, developed in part at the University of Montana, geared toward forcibly eradicating coca fields in Colombia as part of the "War on Drugs" in that country. If used in Colombia or anywhere else, this genetically-engineered fungal agent threatens to cause serious environmental damage and health problems in the local populations subjected to it.

    Another is a Pentagon "non-lethal" chemical/biological weapons program that the Sunshine Project has uncovered through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. (Biological/chemical "non-lethal" weapons range from calmatives, such as those used in the Moscow theater hostage disaster, where over 100 people died due to this agent's use, to ethnically- targeted malodorants - foul-smelling chemicals.) Follow-up FOIA requests by the Sunshine Project have been excessively delayed and received less disclosure from the Department of Defense. And after urging the Chemical Weapons Convention to investigate these "non-lethal" programs, the US State Department blocked Sunshine Project accreditation to attend future CWC meetings.

    Such attempts to stamp out public knowledge and the criticism that often stems from it are pure hubris. The biodefense boom is a waste of money that not only breaks international law and threatens humanity abroad, but also multiplies the possibility that the American public may be exposed to lethal diseases. While "hot" labs proliferate like suburban tract homes, crucial public debate and accountability are missing. One can only hope we have these debates before it's too late.

    Nick Schwellenbach is a former member of University of Texas Watch (www.utwatch.org), a student-based watchdog organization. He is currently a fellow at the Washington, DC-based Project On Government Oversight (www.pogo.org).

    Future of Biology

     

    Top

    Anthrax on Campus

    A Primer on Identifying University Bioweapons Research

    By Edward Hammond
    Page 30
    Future of Biology

    Discovering research on biological weapons agents taking place on a college campus isn't as hard as you think. Schools don't typically publicize bioweapons research; but most federal grants - classified projects being the major exception - leave a paper trail that can be traced by any member of the public. You just have to look for it in the right places. After finding that paper trail, interpreting it may require consulting people with specific knowledge about biology and biotechnology. Fortunately, these people can be found at any university. Find one who is not affiliated with bioweapons research whose opinion you trust.

    Once you have the information, it can be put to use by prompting public discussions. Not all projects with biological weapons agents are inherently "bad", but each one deserves a public airing. Public disclosure and debate is the key to preventing biodefense from crossing the line into offensive territory or presenting safety dangers to students and the surrounding community. Pamphlets, tables, campus radio, student newspapers, etc. can ask and get answers to such questions as: Is this something students (and others) want on their campus? Is it an appropriate use of university resources? Does it pose safety or security risks? Are the objectives of the research acceptable? How does the research relate to the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits all research with biological agents that does not have a clear, justifiable peaceful purpose?

    Here's how to find out what's going on:

    1) Find research abstracts by consulting the National Institutes of Health grants database at http://crisp.cit.nih.gov. The CRISP database is relatively easy to use, although it may take a few searches to get exactly what you want. On the search form, type the name of a school in the "Institution" field, and ask for grants since 2001. A list will be returned, with abstracts for each. Hints: Use the wildcard (%) symbol if your school's name is hard to isolate (e.g. "%Berkeley%" for the University of California at Berkeley). If CRISP returns too many hits, try limiting the search to grants matching the keyword "bioterrorism," or to grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). Identify those relating to biological weapons agents, looking up scientific names of species, if necessary.

    2) The US Department of Agriculture also has a grants database, called CRIS. It is a bit more complicated than NIH's CRISP; but can be mastered with some experimentation. Online at: http://cris.csrees.usda.gov/. The USDA database is useful for identifying research on bioweapons agents that affect animals and crops, such as foot and mouth disease (FMD) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

    3) Most universities have an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). IBCs are required if universities are receiving many types of federal biodefense funding. The IBC is in charge of safety and must review all genetic engineering-related research on campus, including most biodefense projects. Under federal rules, IBC meeting minutes must be made available to the public. Ask your school for its IBC minutes over the past year or more. If you don't immediately get copies of the minutes, if the minutes are of poor quality, or if your university blacks out significant parts (for any reason), contact Mr. Allan Shipp at the National Institutes of Health (shippa at od dot nih dot gov) and tell him that your university won't give you proper minutes. Copy the e-mail to the Sunshine Project (tsp at sunshine-project dot org). Also, politely ask to attend an IBC meeting. Schools are not required to let you in - they are "encouraged" to do so; but it would be bad form to prohibit students from attending. Contact NIH and the Sunshine Project if you are told "no."

    4) Contracts are almost always public documents, particularly at public universities and when the government funds the research. Ask your university for copies of any contracts for research involving biological weapons agents, or "select agents" as the government calls them. Use an open records act request if necessary, and ask a sympathetic non-student to file the request on your behalf if you would like anonymity. For example, "Pursuant to the [name of state open records law] I request all contracts for research involving a select agent, from 1 January 2002 through the present." This method can be useful for finding research funded by other government agencies, for example, the Department of Defense. If you are denied this information, contact the Sunshine Project.

    5) There are other methods to be tried. Use your creativity. For example, at many universities, the governing board (e.g. the Board of Regents) must approve all major research contracts. Check out the board's meeting records to see what kinds of bioresearch contracts they are approving. If you know the name(s) of professors researching biological weapons agents, perform a search in PubMed, the most comprehensive free online database (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi) to get a sense of the research. Also, if universities possess biological weapons agents ("select agents"), they must register with the Centers for Disease Control. Ask your university if it is registered to handle select agents and, if so, what agents are on campus (and why!). If the school refuses to answer these questions, contact the Sunshine Project.

    It's your right to know - use it!



    Edward Hammond is Director of the US Office of the Sunshine Project. Hammond has worked on biotechnology-related policy since 1993. He can be reached at hammond at sunshine-project dot org

     

    Top
     

    Act to Protect Your Privacy from Military Recruiters

    Page 32

     

    Proteja Ud. Sus Datos Personales de los Reclutadores Militares

    Los reclutadores militares pueden molestarle a Ud. porque la administración de su escuela les ha dado su nombre, dirección y número de teléfono. Para evitarlo, hay que asegurar tan pronto posible que la escuela no comparta sus datos personales. ES SU DERECHO LEGAL. LOS DISTRITOS TIENEN QUE CUMPLIR. Algunos distritos tienen su propia forma o se puede escribir una carta o se puede usar ésta. Hace falta una forma para cada alumno. Se recomienda que la forma esté firmada o por los padres o por un guardián legal.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fecha/ Date: _____________________

    Dear administrator of _______________________________________:
    (Nombre de la escuela/Name of high school)

    We are exercising our right under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001*, and hereby request that the name, address, and telephone listing of:

    ______________________________________________________,
    (Nombre del estudiante/Print name of student)

    who is a current student at your school, not be released to military recruiters without prior written parental consent. We do, however, consent to the disclosure of such information to colleges and universities other than military schools.

    _________________________________________________________
    Nombre del padre, madre o guardián/Print name of parent or legal guardian above

    _________________________________________________________
    Firma del padre, madre o guardián/Signature of parent or guardian

    _________________________________________________________
    Firma del estudiante/Signature of student

    *Note to school administrators: Once this request is given to you, it is a serious violation of federal law to disregard it and release the name, address and phone number of this student to any military recruiter without prior written consent. Section 9528(a) of Public Law 107-110 states:

    (2) CONSENT- A secondary school student or the parent of the student may request that the student's name, address, and telephone listing described in paragraph (1) [i.e., the paragraph requiring schools receiving federal aid to release information to military recruiters] not be released without prior written parental consent, and the local educational agency or private school shall notify parents of the option to make a request and shall comply with any request. This flier was produced by the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, www.sdcpj.org. For more information on military recruiting and student lists, contact the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities, 760-634-3604, projyano@aol.com.

    Act to Protect Your Privacy from Military Recruiters

    You may be harassed at home by military recruiters because your name, address and phone number will be given to them by your school - unless you tell your school to not give out the information. To exercise your legal right to have this information kept private, you should notify your school office as soon as possible. Some school districts may provide their own forms for this, but they must obey your request no matter how you submit it. You can write your own letter or use the one below. Use a letter or form for each individual student and keep a copy. It is not required by law, but we recommend having a parent or guardian also sign:

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Date: ___________________

    Dear administrator of _______________________________________:
    (Name of high school)

    We are exercising our right under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001*, and hereby request that the name, address, and telephone listing of:

    ______________________________________________________,
    (Print name of student)

    who is a current student at your school, not be released to military recruiters without prior written parental consent. We do, however, consent to the disclosure of such information to colleges and universities other than military schools.

    _________________________________________________________
    Print name of parent or legal guardian above

    _________________________________________________________
    Signature of parent or guardian

    _________________________________________________________
    Signature of student

    *Note to school administrators: Once this request is given to you, it is a serious violation of federal law to disregard it and release the name, address and phone number of this student to any military recruiter without prior written consent. Section 9528(a) of Public Law 107-110 states:

    (2) CONSENT- A secondary school student or the parent of the student may request that the student's name, address, and telephone listing described in paragraph (1) [i.e., the paragraph requiring schools receiving federal aid to release information to military recruiters] not be released without prior written parental consent, and the local educational agency or private school shall notify parents of the option to make a request and shall comply with any request. This flier was produced by the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, www.sdcpj.org. For more information on military recruiting and student lists, contact the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities, 760-634-3604, projyano@ aol.com.