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March 05, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-05

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0

S

OPINION

Page 4r

Friday, March 5, 1982

The Michigan Daily

i

Questioning

'U,

military

research

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By Bret Eynon
and Henry Rice
On the evening of February 11, a
group of 17 University graduate and
undergraduate students appeared at
the North Campus office of Dr. George
Gamota, director of the University's
Institute of Science and Technology.
&amota, former head of research and
development at the Pentagon, has
spearheaded the University's effort to
develop robotics and other high
technology on campus.
When the students asked to see
Gamota they were told that he was "on
vacation"-despite the fact that he had
been speaking to an Ann Arbor Cham-
ber of Commerce breakfast that very
norning. After speaking briefly with
Gamota's assistant, the students read
the following statement and set of
questions, and asked for a reply within
a week.
"This is an important moment in the
history of the University of Michigan.
This week the University has enter-
tained a group of Air Force officers, in
hopes of winning millions of dollars for
the new Center for Robotics and In-
tegrated Manufacturing. We are here
fQday to question this effort, to voice

our concern, and to call for broad
debate on this issue throughout the
University community.
"The context for our concern over
this issue is familiar to all of us. The
world today stands closer to nuclear
catastrophe than ever before. The
swollen Pentagon budget has starved
our material economy. Michigan is in a
deep depression, from which it is not
likely to emerge for years to come.
"The situation of the University of
Michigan reflects all'of these problems.
Students at the University are
struggling in the face of rising tuition
and brutal cutbacks in financial aid.
Faculty who cannot command research
grants are being denied tenure.
Rumors fly that the University stands
ready to liquidate the School of
Education, ostensibly because it is "not
central"to the University's purpose.
"Scientists are not immune from
these pressures. Faced with dwindling
support from other sources, they are
forced to turn to the Pentagon for funds.
The brainpower of our state is in-
creasingly applied to the development
of new, more intricate, more
unimaginable weapons of war. The
values implicit in University life, and
the ethics of scientific responsibility,
are left behind in the rush to create new
military technology.
"The effort to fund robotics research

request Air Force funding (for
robotics) made? When will there be an
opportunity to debate this decision?
Will all discussion take place after the
fact?
" The University of Michigan is an in-
stitution committed to the preservation
and advancement of human
civilization. What is the University
doing to help prevent nuclear war? Why
does. it not support peace studies? Is the
development of sophisticated robot
weaponry the University's best answer
to the dilemma facing humankind?"
Three weeks have passed since
these questions were delivered, and no
reply has been forthcoming. Mean-
while, the tension grows. Earlier this
week it was discovered that the
proportion of University research spon-
sored by the Pentagon is indeed
soaring-it jumped 100 percent from
1980 to 1981-as concerned students had
charged. Two days ago 300 students
staged a "Die-in" on State Street to
dramatize their opposition to military
"preparedness.
One does not have to agree with such
protest to recognize the importance of
the questions being asked. The effects
of increased cooperation between the
University and the Pentagon concerns
all members of the University com-
munity.

For LSA students and faculty who
wonder why their college is scheduled
for "retrenchment" while the
Engineering school plans expanded
research facilities on North Campus
military research is a concern. ;
For scientists and engineers eager to
use their knowledge- for the advan'
cement of humankind, military resears
ch is a concern.
For everyone in the University comr
munity suffering from federal cuts its
student financial aid and reduced sups
port for higher education-while tho a
Pentagon pours billions of dollars into
new weaponry-military research is a
concern.
Several campus groups have been in'
vestigating the relationship between
the University and the Pentagon, anq
its implications for all of us. A portioi
of these findings will be published here
in the coming weeks. The central theme
will be militarism and military research
at Michigan, but excursions will be
taken into the related areas of high
technology, modern warfare, and, of
course, "smaller, but better."
Bret Eynon is a community
historian and Michigan Asembly in-j
vestigator. Henry Rice is an LSA'
sophomore.

Students protest defense-sponsored research

with Air Force money is a blatant
example of this trend. If the University
is successful in coaxing the Air Force,
up to 70 percent of the funds for the
robotics center will come from the Pen-
tagon. The direction of the Center will
then inevitable serve military interests.
Yet no one has questioned the im-
plications of this effort. Once again, the
technological imperative is in the
driver's seat.
"We would like to suggest some
questions which need to be answered:
Why is the Air Force interested in
robotics? What use will the Air Force

make of robotics technology developed
by University scientists? Will robots
make bombs? Fly planes? Launch
missiles?
" The University of Michigan has
guidelines which prohibit research, any
purpose-of which is the destruction of
human life. Will Air Force-funded
robotics research violate these
guidelines? How will the University
safeguard against such a possibility?
" The University calls itself a
democratic institution dedicated to fur-
thering democratic values in its studen-
ts and staff. How was the decision to

.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

Vol. XCII, No. 120

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

I KNEW IT FROMTIA1E.
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By Robert L.ence
KIND OF
STHISI
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p,;

r T 1

r ILIR pre
Pu1icizin
1T IS COMMONLY known that the
budget-cutting process at this
university is far from democratic.
ThersUniversity administration
decides what units are not performing7
fp to .par, and then puts them up for
review. Faculty and student opinion is
welcomed-and, on occasion, heeded-
but few question the fact that the final
decision is the administration's.
Our administrators are here to make
lure this educational institution runs
smoothly and efficiently. They guide
the University's future as a central
government would. But, just as the
functions of a central government are
:public and democratic, so should the
functions of our administration be as
open, and as pluralistic, as possible.
r.
Officials at the Institute for Labor
;and Industrial Relations issued a press
-release Monday defending their
,position at this university. ILIR recen-
tly was targeted by the administration
for a review which could result in a
massive budget reduction for the in-
stitute, or possibly, its wholesale
elimination. The press release ex-
:plained the importance of ILIR and the
growing significance of the institute's
'programs. The report, in essence, at-
tempted to explain the institute's
reason for existence.
Whether ILIR should or should not
be eliminated is not up for debate here.
Rather, the institute's right-and
ability-to make known its position is
what's important.
Open hearings at Regents' meetings
are fine, but they provide little
publicity for a University unit facing
extinction. That a part of the Univer-
sity must devote time to defending its

ss release:,..'
unit review
work through press releases, is
significant in itself. When a unit resor-
ts to such measures, the ad-
ministrationhshould stand warned on
how few forums there are for the ex-
pression of staff and student input.
The review process has evolved over
the past year into an extremely closed,
secret system. University politics run
rampant over retrenchment plan-
ning-units are spared or- axed for
reasons that never make it outside of
the Fleming Administration Building,
and the students and the majority of
the University's staff remain com-
pletely ignorant of the situation.
Because the review and budget-
cutting process has become so
prevalent at the University it is im-
perative, in turn, that it become more
public. If ILIR wants to "take its case
to the people," it should be encouraged
to do so. The way in which our univer-
sity is made "smaller, but better" is a
public concern, and must be a public
process.
ILIR's press release should raise
quite a few questions on the University
campus. What, for instance, is the ac-
tual depth and effect of student and
faculty participation in University-
wide decisions? To what extent is the
fate of a targeted unit sealed well
before its review comes before the
University's Regents? And are the
various administrative processes at
the University-review, budget-
cutting, tenure, and so on-as fair and
as democratic as they should be?
When these questions are answered
to the satisfaction of the University
community, then we may actually
become "smaller, but better."

r
...4

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

.

Witt correct on ignoring neo-Nazis

To the Daily:
Let's hear it for Howard Witt!
As much as I hate to admit it, his
article, "Let's ignore theneo-
Nazis" (Daily, March 2) is ar-
ticulate, well presented, and
timely. I find it a bit ironic that
the Daily should run a front page
story on the Security Services Ac-
tion Group the same day Witt's
story is run on the opinion page.
I realize that "Local Nazis plan
rally for later this month" is
somewhat newsworthy, but I cer-
tainly don't care if theycome to
Ann Arbor and I don't feel it
warrants front page coverage..
Although in the past Witt's ar-
ticles have not been exemplary, I
think the editorial staff of the
Daily might have paid attention
to him this time. His portrayal of
"television vultures circling
overhead" and how "the papers
No news for.
To the Daily:
After reading Howard Witt's
description of the neo-Nazi S.S.
Action Group, we were in firm
agreement with Witt that these
people are "backward dregs
from the effluent of society."
Although anti-Semitism and
racism are clearly serious issues,
it is evident that this band of fif-
teen "pitiful morons" represents
a viewpoint poorly supported by
people at both the local and

hunger for the story" are good
likenesses of a news media more
concerned about the bottom line
and a point of view than the
truth, good taste, coverage, and
education.
There are many organizations
on campus and in Ann Arbor that
are much more meritorious and
deserving of our attention and
time, from PIRGIM, The College
Republicans, and the Tenants
Union, to the local Explorers,
YMCA, Red Cross, and B'Nai
B'Rith Hillel Foundation. Each
certainly has more than 15 mem-
bers who are actively working for
social, economic, or political
change, yet they never appear in
the paper. And why? Because
they don't sell papers like the
Nazis who don't even need to
show up for their rally to get the
Nazi dregs
national levels. Therefore, they
are empirically undeserving of
front page coverage.
It is a typically poor practice of
the Daily to place sensationalism
ahead of competent journalism.
We strongly oppose this practice
and hope that it is promptly
abandoned.
-Robert Weinfeld
Michael Katz
Jay Kalter
March 3

attention they badly crave.
Witt is right in saying we have
an effective weapon at our -
disposal. We can ignore them.
But, that is not to say that we
should remain in ignorance of
them. I can only echo and ap-
plaud Witt's feelings when he
says we should "expend our anti-
defamation efforts by educating
the bigoted and helping the op-
pressed," for certainly there is no
other way to unite this campus
and the people it touches into a
strong organized body dedicated
to stopping bigotry and-
prejudice.
The time is now to put a halt to
an escalation in anti-Semitism

and racism, especially on this
campus. We must get involved iM
campus organization and effec-
tiely combat this racist plague
that has reared its head once.
again. We must work to educate
the people of this campus and of
Ann Arbor about just what these
neo-Nazis really stand for and
how wrong that stance really is.
And above all, we must get in-
volved now so that we won't be
caught sitting around when a real
threat to our freedoms and priv-
ileges really comes around. ,
Witt is right. Let's ignore
them.
-Karl Edelmann
lVarch 2

In ward look at racism

To the Daily:.
In these times of rising conser-
vativism, it is imperative that we
as Americans leaders of
tomorrow, evaluate our feelings
about racism, justice, and the
American status quo.
Because Klan uprisings and the
number of race related distur-
bances have increased
dramatically, one cannot help but
wonder in what direction the
country is moving. Are we
moving forward, backward, or
are we at a standstill?
As students at a prominent
mainstream institution, we must

ask ourselves more probing
questions about our values,, a-
titudes, and judgments and the
direct and indirect effects they
have on others. Traditionally,
middle-class Americans have
made policies and set so"al
standards without conscience er
sensitivity to those whom th e
policiesmight adversely aff.
We must look inward r
solutions to racism in Americ,
and all ask ourselves, "How' o
we wear our race?"
-Keith Green
March 2

Wasserman

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