Hunger striking UCSB students went to the UC Regents meeting in San Francisco on Thursday to protest the UC system’s involvement in nuclear weapons labs.
“We remain committed to withholding solid food until the regents retract their management of the weapons labs,” said Ellen McClure, a second-year UCSB student and hunger striker. “We are greatly inspired by, and appreciative of, all of the support we are receiving,” she said. One student had been hospitalized over the weekend, and later released.
Hunger strike organizer Andrew Culp acknowledges that getting their demands met immediately is “a long shot.”
“We’re interested in hearing what (the regents) have to say,” he said.
As of yesterday morning, Culp and 80 other protesters from UCSB, UCLA, UCSC, UC Berkeley and students and community members from the San Francisco area held a rally outside the UCSF Mission Bay Building. Dissatisfied with the limited public comment period and wary that they might not get their opinions heard, some of the strikers, Culp said, were “willing to put themselves in an arrest situation.”
At press time, 12 people had been detained for disrupting the Department of Energy presentation, “Transforming Complex 2030,” part of the plan to revamp plutonium bomb core pit manufacturing at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Several of the detainees are UCSB students, including fourth-year students Cricket Clarke, Adrian Drummond-Cole and Carleigh O’Donnell.
The UC system last year won a $15million contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. Shortly after the announcement in March that the Livermore facility would start developing a new hydrogen bomb, the UC system and its private partners won another bid to continue its management of the laboratory.
“I’ve been with the UC for 35 years, since I was a student in 1972, and have great love for this institution. It hurts me that it’s involved with designing instruments of genocide,” said Tom Newman, UC San Francisco professor of epidemiology and a hunger striker. “Designing a new hydrogen bomb undermines if not completely violates Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
The students participating in the hunger strike are also protesting Los Alamos’ plans to make plutonium bomb cores, the manufacture of which was halted in 1999.
“If UC were to withdraw its management of the labs, based on the fact that these facilities are pursuing illegal and immoral missions, then the legitimacy of this would crumble,” said Darwin BondGraham, a sociology graduate student who gave an informational lecture at a “teach-in” in front of Cheadle Hall Tuesday evening. “This would help the Congress to realize that a radically different path is necessary, one that focuses on disarmament, not new hydrogen bombs and plutonium pit production.”