Wednesday, May 23, 2007

At Cheadle Hall Camp Site, UCSB Hunger Strikers to Announce Major Campaign Breakthroughs, End of Their Fast

May 23, 2007

Ellen McClure, 2nd-year student: (858) 663-9326
Maia Kazaks, 3rd year student: (805) 284-2342
Andrew Culp, hunger strike technical advisor: (816) 522-0255

WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: 12 p.m.
WHERE: In front of Cheadle Hall, UCSB
WHO: “No More Nukes In Our Name” Hunger Strikers

Only a few days after collectively breaking their fast, the UCSB contingent of the multi-campus “No Nukes In Our Name!” hunger strikers will hold a press conference to announce the multiple breakthrough successes that resulted from this recent bold act of civil resistance. They will also announce some of the next steps in their campaign to demilitarize the University of California.

Among the hunger strikers’ announcements will be that they have secured meetings with members of the UC Board of Regents to discuss UC nuclear weapons lab severance, a June 8th UCSB faculty senate resolution to support some of the goals of the hunger strike, and the repercussions – politically and judicially -- of their direct action at the May 17th UC Regents meeting at UC San Francisco. Thirteen people were arrested at the meeting, including 10 UC students.

“In the three years I’ve been involved in the campaign to sever the UC’s nuclear weapons ties, this is the first time I’ve seen the students put the UC Regents publicly on the defensive regarding their role as weapons lab managers,” said Will Parrish, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus and hunger striker who fasted for 11 days. “Not only that, but support for the campaign has grown immensely, among all sectors of the UC community – students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Though the hunger strike did not achieve its ultimate goal of UC weapons lab severance, we have achieved some major breakthroughs, and we are poised to achieve even bigger ones very soon, as a result of the momentum the hunger strike has created.”

Maia Kazaks, a hunger striker and third-year UCSB Environmental Studies major, said: "These recent steps have been really powerful. But we have to keep educating and keep expanding our foundation of support. This will ultimately lead not only to a nuclear-free university, but a more peaceful world."

Many of the supporters who were critical to the success of the hunger strike, including UCSB faculty members and staff, will be on hand at the press conference. After its conclusion, the hunger strikers and their supporters who camped in front of Cheadle Hall will disassemble their tent community, which is in its 15th day as of this writing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Media Round-Up

* KPFA Evening News, 5/18 (second half of show)
* KPFK World Focus Radio, 5/20 (starts 30 minutes in)
* Indybay (a few clerical errors - I punched this out way too quickly. :))
* Goleta Valley Voice

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Media roundup

If we missed anything leave a comment!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Regents Meeting Photos

For the full set, visit:

For full-rez requests: aculp [at]

Photos from Regents Meeting

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Regents Meeting

The regents’ meeting began at 8 with an announcement. Because so many people had signed up to speak during the public comments period the regents elected to extend the time alloted from 20 minutes to a full half hour. Despite the extra 10 minutes not even close to everyone had the opportunity to have their voice heard. A number of the hunger strikers – for whom this was the ninth day without food – spoke out, as well as many supporters, including Jackie Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation, Professor Charles Schwartz of UC Berkeley and representatives from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The comments were amazing to listen to. They exhibited the students’ depth of understanding of the issue with their detailed critic of RRW. They attacked the regents for continuing to choose to involve the university in the immoral nuclear weapons’ business. They conveyed the broad community support for severance. And, most importantly, they spoke of the passion and commitment of the students. One hunger striker reminded the regents that “We are not starving for fun”. Another described his aching body and then explained that the ache in his heart every time he thought about the University’s role in the creation of nuclear weapons was far greater. As he spoke the students – spontaneously – all held up peace signs.

After the public comments period everyone left the hall and gathered outside on the grass in a giant circle. One by one, going around the circle, everyone spoke. Unlike inside, there was time for everyone. Students expressed their joy of being part of this group that was fighting to steer the university towards a new, conscientious, path. They reminded each other that they – the students – were the real university; and, that they held the power to bring about a better future.

Next came the nitty-gritty, the planning. Everyone bunched up close together and, through consensus, decided how to proceed should the regents ignore the demands of their constituents and choose to continue with their regular business: the nuclear weapons business.

The group filtered back into the meeting around eleven. At first we were told that there weren’t enough seats but eventually everyone was allowed inside. We listened to the tail end of a presentation by the faculty senate which explained that the only way to maintain the quality and character of the university was increased state funding. Many in the audience were dismayed that the regents seemed unaccepting of this news.

Finally, the Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories convened. It was quickly clear that the regents did not intend to even acknowledge the moral quagmire they drag the university into, let alone resolving it by severing ties with the weapons labs. A group of hunger strikers stood up and demanded the regents respond to their demands. Regent Norman Pattiz assured the group that the regents had heard their message and that “[The regents] need to go forward with the business of the university.” Up on the screen was the first slide of a presentation entitled “Report on the National Nuclear Security Administration Vision for the Nuclear Weapons Complex of 2030” – i.e. the plan to revamp the nuclear weapons complex in order to restart production and create new nuclear weapons, the first of which (RRW-1) is already being designed at the Livermore lab.

The hunger strikers made it clear that so long as the regents chose “to go forward with the business of the university” when that business was creating new nuclear weapons and refused to even discuss the matter, the hunger strikers and their supporters were going to continue to demand accountability and moral responsibility from their university.

The regents brushed off the protest by saying it was not through proper channels. They seemed to think they were not responsible for nuclear weapons in any way. Someone shouted out to the regents “what would you do?” Pattiz told the hunger strikers “I hope you will go and have some lunch.” A chant of “Give Peace a Chance” was taken up by the crowd. Intermittently people would shout out things such as: “You don’t need to be a subsidiary to Bechtel.” “Listen to your students.” “The University’s business is the nuke business” “Don’t build new nukes.” Most of the chanters were still sitting peacefully in their seats, hoping the regents would at least discuss their role in nuclear complex and consider the demand for severance. Instead the regents eventually left and called in the police to clear the room. After the police announcement all, but thirteen, of the hunger strikers and their supporters left the room. The thirteen that remained locked arms and waited to be arrested.

Outside the room the energy continued with chants of “Whose university? Our university!” and “UC Nuclear Free!” as well as informal teach ins and in depth discussions of the issue. Liaisons kept in close touch with the police and a representative of the regents to keep track of the arrestees. The regents eventually resumed their meeting, but now without any public to witness it. The students moved outside the building, making themselves, and especially the hunger strikers, available to the media. A car was quickly dispatched to pick up the arrestees who were being cited and released at a nearby jail.

The hunger strikers and their supporters took some time to talk amongst themselves on the lawn behind the building. The mood was jubilant because they knew they had just exercised their power as students. But, it was also serious because the threat of nuclear weapons remains, the university continues to be part of that threat and there is still much organizing and work to be done. As everyone dispersed to return to their communities and campuses one hunger striker remarked, “I was really ready to go into the meeting, and I’ll be ready for the next one in July.”

For the record: The discussion item the regents were about to go into when students and supporters disrupted the meeting was entitled:

Report On The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Vision for the Nuclear Weapons Complex of 2030

The official description of the item runs as follows (emphasis added):

Mr. Glenn Mara, Principal Associate Director for Weapons Programs, Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide a summary of this key NNSA initiative in which both LANL and LLNL are integrally involved.

Thank You

Thank you to the hunger striker's for their commitment.
Thank you to the supporters for making it possible.
Thank you for all your letters, warm wishes and prayers for making it all worth it.

Headline from Democracy Now...

"Univ. of California Students Protest School's Ties to Nuclear Weapons Industry
A group of University of California students on a hunger strike are planning to protest today outside the University of California Board of Regents meeting. The students started their hunger strike over a week ago to protest the university's close ties to the nation's nuclear weapons industry. The University recently won a contract to manage the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear laboratories. "

I'm posting this in the library of UCSF's Mission Bay Campus. This morning more than 100 students and supporters spoke before the UC Regents during public comment. Conspicuously absent were more than half of the Regents, their chairs empty. Much of the DOE Lab Oversight Committee's members were also absent.

The students spoke in favor of lab severance with several hunger strikers taking a turn to address the board. Professor Charles Schwartz of UC Berkeley endorsed the student's action, as did several representatives of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Jackie Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation.

Solidarity Action from New Mexico

Submitted by marcus patrick blaise page of Trinity Nuclear Abolitionists (the Veg-O vehicle moving company of Albuquerque NM).

Three weeks ago, hearing about the impending hunger strike, I was inspired to do something to help out the people in the state where I live. I began by quitting eating the day after May Day, sticking only to liquids (all sorts of liquids, including a few bottles of salad dressing per week). Step Two was to glean some of the words from your blog to make a short letter for two audiences. The letter is for both to the general public here in New Mexico and the employees at LANL who would most immediately be affected if the Regents would finally do the right thing (pull out of LANL management). Step three was my drive up the hill today to the management office in Los Alamos this afternoon.

I visited the Los Alamos Nuclear Security company office at about 1:30pm to ask how the 5 employees of LANS would feel about the UC quitting LANS & LANL. The very friendly and helpful LANS employee asked me how realistic of an option is the Regent's decision to quit LANL. I said, “It's a long-shot,” but worth the effort of asking and fasting. Completely unaware of the hunger strike, she was confident that even if we get what we want, their jobs would continue. We both agreed that the relationship between UC & LANL is “a feather in the cap” for both entities. She also indicated that even though her former employer (directly the UC
itself prior to the change in contract) now shares the money for the contract with three other entities, the entire pot of money grew, so the UC didn't lose much, if anything. She wished me luck in these idealistic endeavors, informing me that she'd been there when she was younger too.

I then proceeded to inquire with the UCSD Engineering Institute one floor down regarding the relationship between LANS & the existence of their program. They were less helpful, less friendly, and actually prevented me from exploring the building further. (UCSB is specifically named on the building along with UCSD, and i'm still curious for direct experience of their office there.) I'm glad that three employees became aware of this group action in California before the security guard escorted me out of the building, making sure to let me know that i had “done nothing wrong” and where I could hang out (without incurring security violations).

It's now been two weeks of my liquid diet and I'm very appreciative of all the efforts you all are making in this important personal and political movement for nuclear abolition. Thanx for the inspiration!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

UC Regents Meeting is Tomorrow!

Please come if you possibly can to our rally at 10 a.m.! Details follow...

No More Nukes In Our Name! – Rally to Support the UC Student Hunger Strikers and Solidarity Fasters!
** Thursday ** May 17 ** 10:00 AM **
UC San Francisco Mission Bay

Join the UC student hunger strikers and the hunger strikers’ support network as we take our demand for University of California nuclear weapons lab withdrawal directly to the UC Regents! The UC’s nuclear weapons lab management affects all people. We are calling on all people who support peace, nuclear disarmament, social justice, and a livable future to join in on this mobilization!

The rally will feature art, music, and speeches by the hunger strikers. The support of activists throughout the Bay Area is critical to making this action a success! Please bring your energy, your insights, and your enthusiasm for creating a better world.

Hunger Striker Demand

We call on the University of California Board of Regents to withdraw fully and immediately from their contracts to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on the grounds that the Reliable Replacement Warhead program and LANL’s ongoing preparations to conduct plutonium pit manufacturing both clearly violate Article VI of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Schedule for the Day

The whole world will be watching (Regents meetings are heavily-attended by local and national press) as we take creative measures to get our demands met. We will take part in the public comment period at 8 a.m. The rally is at 10 a.m. outside of the Regents meeting facility. And we invite you to stay for the Regents’ session to discuss their management of the nuclear weapons labs at 11:45!

Meeting Location

The meeting takes place at UC San Francisco. Here is the address:

1675 Owens Street, San Francisco
UCSF-Mission Bay Community Center

Here is a Google Maps link.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Letter to Berkeley chancellor

Dear Mr. Chancellor Birgeneau,

We are a group of Berkeley students and alumni who are fasting this week on campus in solidarity with the UC “No More Nukes in Our Name” hunger-strikers in UC Santa Barbara. As citizens of the World, we are asking that the UC stop designing, engineering, and manufacturing nuclear bombs. Our aim is to call on the Regents to pass a resolution at their meeting on May 17th to sever ties to the nuclear complex.

We hope that you share our distress about the next generation of nuclear weapons. While we are grateful for what Berkeley has given us for our individual endeavors, we are deeply concerned about what the future may hold for the survival of the human species on this planet. As you know, UC employees designed every nuclear warhead in the US arsenal. These include the B61-11 "bunker busters" currently deployed in the Persian Gulf, with which the US government is threatening Iran. Now, LLNL is designing a new hydrogen bomb (officially, the first new US nuclear weapon since the end of the Cold War) and LANL will start manufacturing nuclear warhead components in 2008.

There has never been a more critical time for the UC Regents to take a principled stand against the US’ nuclear weapons programs. They can withdraw their management of the Los Alamos and Livermore labs, which are the keystone institutions in the US nuclear weapons complex. They could cast the UC's enormous political and intellectual weight on the side of international law and morality, and seize this opportunity to work toward nuclear disarmament. To do otherwise is to continue to provide a false veneer of “academic legitimacy” to the creation and maintenance of weapons that poison communities and endanger the entire World’s magnificent biodiversity.

This clear US government statement that it will continue to rely on nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future sends the wrong message to nations intent on acquiring nuclear weapons. If the United States declares that nuclear weapons are important for its national security, why shouldn't other nations acquire them for their own security? If that happens, everyone's insecurity will be increased. In its heightened level of awareness, the global community is no longer willing to accept unsubstantiated talk and double standards, but demands that authority walk the talk and teach through example rather than words.

UC students have a long history of organizing and taking action on this issue. The multi-campus Coalition to Demilitarize the UC has worked on several fronts to sever the UC's nuclear ties, including writing letters, generating petitions and speaking at Regents meetings. Student governments at multiple campuses, including UC Berkeley, have passed resolutions opposing the UC's ties to the weapon labs, and more are considering similar resolutions.

In light of the immense urgency of the World’s nuclear situation, and the sacrifice we are making these 9 days, we ask you to please write a letter to the Regents endorsing full and complete severance from the nuclear labs. We hope that you will add your strong and engaged voice.

If you are unwilling or unable to do this, we request that you use your leadership abilities to convene a campus-wide dialogue about the aim of education, and the purpose of the national laboratories. In this dialogue, we hope the community will consider and explore whether or not those purposes are compatible.

We will be sitting on campus every day between now and the Regents meeting on May 17th. We would love to discuss these ideas further with you and we’d like to hear your response to our request, so please contact us if you can.

Jason Ahmadi, Amanda Cocking, Chelsea Collonge, Natalie Gaouke, Matt Gillam, Lexa Grayner, Jerlina Love, Michael Schuck, Francisco Ramos Stierle, Marisa Schneidman

The good things in life

Thanks to Sam Marks at UCSB for pointing out this fascinating, must-see video is now on YouTube – a Los Alamos National Laboratory explaining “Why Nuclear Weapons Are Important.”