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.”