some arguments against Los Alamos
Our concerns regarding Los Alamos are threefold: ethical/political, financial, and relating to the university environment, particularly in terms of academic freedom.
Since Los Alamos National Laboratory is involved in the production and upgrading of nuclear weapons we feel that if UT manages and operates LANL it would contradict UT's own core purpose "to transform lives for the benefit of society". (from http://www.utexas.edu/welcome/mission.html)
This is especially the case when one realizes that the Bush administration seeks the development of "mini-nukes", intended for battlefield use, as well as other weapons (Oakland Tribune 12/11/03). LANL would play a prominent role in this development. Potential implications include the sparking of a new arms race in response to the US using or just developing new low-yield nukes.
For a university that seeks to cultivate "moral and ethical values" the acquisition of Los Alamos would be an egregious move in the wrong direction.
UT spent about $850,000 in a failed bid for Sandia National Labs in 2002. This money was funneled from the Available University Fund, which is funding gained from a large UT endowment entitled the Permanent University Fund (page 6 from http://www.utsystem.edu/BUD/State_Reports/2002AUF.PDF). This bid did not reach an advanced stage since the DoE renewed Lockheed Martin's contract to manage Sandia.
A bid to manage Los Alamos would cost much, much more. Estimates of the cost for the Los Alamos bid run up to $25 million (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/04/30/tech/main551640.shtml). The UT and UC Systems are both cash strapped. To add insult to injury the source of funding that UT would use for a LANL bid would likely come from the Available University Fund which can be used for funding libraries, which have come under the knife in the last year.
A bid for Los Alamos, an entity of dubious prestige, should not come at the cost of education.
Running a sprawling complex largely dedicated to the research and development of weapons of mass destruction is not condusive to the value of academic freedom. This belief, core to any healthy institution of higher education, is compromised by the needs of national security which seek to classify work and suppress dissent.