Students discussed links between the University of California system and the arms industry at a presentation held on Thursday, April 17 by the Student Department of Energy Laboratory Oversight Committee (DOELOC), a year-old Associated Students entity which educates students about the UCâ€™s management of the nationâ€™s two largest nuclear weapons labs.
The event, titled â€œWhy Is Your University Making Nuclear Weapons?â€ drew a crowd of about 30 students and featured presentations and film clips exploring the relationship between the UC, transnational corporations, and nuclear weapons, concluding with a question and answer session.
â€œEvery nuclear weapon in the U.S. has been made under the management of the UC System, including the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,â€ said first-year student Kaitlyn Ezell, who delivered a brief a history of the UCâ€™s decades-long management of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National laboratories. â€œBeing under the name of the UC gives the labs a false credibility,â€ she said.
One section discussed the effects of nuclear testing, waste disposal, uranium mining and other forms of â€œenvironmental racismâ€ perpetuated by the nuclear weapons industry on indigenous communities. Communities like the Shoshone and Navajo nations have consequently experienced cancers among other health complications, as well as land contamination that may last for thousands of years to come.
Adrian Drummond-Cole, a UCSB alum, discussed the millions of dollars in military research funding plugged into the sciences through the Department of Energy and grants, about $5 million from 1998 to 2006. He also mentioned the arms industryâ€™s recruitment of UCSB students and presence at career fairs.
Other topics included a breakdown of the US nuclear weapons complex, the influence of the labs on US nuclear policy, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, resistance to the UCâ€™s lab management, and connections between members of the UC Board of Regents and the weapons industry. Presenters let the audience know that all of their research is publicly available on the internet.
â€œDOELOC basically takes pieces of information, connects them, and puts together a picture,â€ said student and active member, Dave Hassan.
DOELOC explicitly opposes nuclear weapons, and several members have participated in recent actions demanding that the University of California sever ties with the labs. Such moves have included the temporary installation of a mock nuclear waste dump in the Arbor, direct actions at UC Regents meetings, and a nine-day, state-wide hunger strike which included a UC professor.
â€œThe UC Regents have their own DOELOC, and students felt they werenâ€™t doing a good job overseeing, especially because of their self interests,â€ said Natalie Engber, a fourth-year Sociology and Womenâ€™s Studies major. â€œWe created our own student lab committee to do this kind of research and educate students about these relations and what they can do about it.â€
In April 2007, the vocal support and presence of over 50 students, community members, and a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima encouraged the AS Legislative Council to institute DOELOC, which seeks to enable students to actively examine the UCâ€™s management of Livermore and Los Alamos labs, its adherence to law, and spread awareness about the labs to the student community.
Since its inception, DOELOC has actively researched ties between the UC and the nuclear weapons industry and meets weekly. The group hopes to eventually make a trip to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to personally conduct an inspection.
â€œItâ€™s really important that we as students hold the UC accountable,â€ said first-year student Mallory Watje.
Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to attend DOELOCâ€™s next meeting, tonight, April 23, in front of the Gaucho Deli, or check out doeloc.org.