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December 08, 1982 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-12-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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OPINION

age 4 Wednesday, December 8, 1982 The Michigan Daily

Whync
By Roger Kerson
"TheUniversity will not enter into or
enew any agreement or contract or accept
:ny grant, the clearly foreseeable and
jobable nature of which, the direct ap-
jication of which, or any specific purpose
<,f which is to destroy human life or in-
apackate human beings."
NThe passage quoted above is part of the
(niversity of Michigan's policy on classified
'search, approved by the Regents in 1972. An
rlier version of the policy was passed in 1968,
a result of a 1967 investigation by The
ichigan Daily which revealed the Univer-
ty's direct participation in the Vietnam war.
The University has had a policy against
apons research for more than 14 years, but
ring that time, a variety of studies have been
"nducted here which have direct military ap-
Iications. Most recently, an investigation last
ear by Bret Eynon for the Michigan Student
e4ssembly revealed that University scientists
Were at work on the following weapons-related
?rojects:
* A study of missile guidance devices inten-
ded, according to project documents, "to im-
prove performance and capability of active RF
missile seekers transmitters, expendable
decoy jammers, and other military systems."
Prof. George Haddad, chairman of the elec-

it to change

classified researci

trical and computer engineering department,
was principal investigator for this study;
" Experimental tests of fuel air explosives,
conducted by Prof. James Nicholls of the
aerospace engineering department;
. Studies of "radar absorbing material,"
which can be used to coat missile fins and plane
wings so that aircraft can reach their targets
without detection. This is the basis of
technology for the "stealth" bomber. These
studies are being conducted by Prof. Thomas
Senior, also of the electrical and computer
engineering department;
* Research on maneuvering for "high speed
attack submarines," carried out by Prof.
Michael Parsons of the naval architecture and
marine engineering department.
Although all of these projects have clear
military applications, only one of them-the
research on submarine maneuvering-was
ever reviewed for compliance with University
policy against weapons research. The others
are not classified, and the present policy ap-
plies only to classified research. As Eynon
pointed out in his report to MSA, the loophole is
indefensible: "If secret research which kills is
bad, is open research which kills good?"
In April 1982, the Faculty Senate Assembly
passed an advisory resolution which stated that
the present policy against weapons research
"is a fundamental ethical principle to which
the University should adhere in all research,
not just in classified research" (the senate's
action is subject to approval by the Regents or

the administration). After some debate as to
how an extension of the policy would be ap-
plied, the senate asked the Research Policies
Committee to devise a plan for implementing
the proposal.
THE RPC has been working on such a plan
since the beginning of this semester. In the
midst of these discussions, some faculty mem-
bers on the committee raised the concern that
the policy on classified research is too restric-
tive as stated and might be difficult to enforce
if it were applied to all research. One of the
professors who expressed this opinion was
Thomas Senior, who currently holds more than
$200,000 in research grants from the Pentagon.
Most of Senior's projects are unclassified and
several of them are directly related to weapons
development.
At the Nov. 18 RPC meeting, the committee
agreed to propose an alternative wording for
consideration by the faculty:
"The University will not enter into or
renew any agreement or contract or accept
any grant, the primary purpose of which is
to destroy human life or incapacitate
human beings.''
On Nov. 29, Prof. Robert Moyers, current
chairman of the RPC, circulated an open letter
to faculty and students which implied that the
entire committee had endorsed the proposed
changes by consensus. In fact, several commit-

tee members have objected to the letter; they
believed that they were merely offering a
proposal for consideration, not endorsing any
changes one way or the other.
There is no compelling reason to change the
current wording of the policy, and there are
several compelling reasons not to do so:
1. THE MEMBERS of the RPC who are
proposing the change suggest that they are
simplifying the policy, because it is too vague
as written. Actually, their recommendation
would seriously complicate the matter,
because the new language would apply only to
non-classified research. The University would
then have two different policies for two dif-
ferent sorts of research, instead of one clear,
consistent, University-wide standard.
2. THE PROPOSED changes would
seriously weaken the policy against research
which might lead to the destruction of human
life. By eliminating the qualifying clauses,
"clearly foreseeable result" and "direct ap-
plication," the new wording removes respon-
sibility from the researcher to examine the im-
plication of his or her work.
The new wording is also weaker in that it
refers only to "primary purpose" of the
research and not to "any specific purpose."
Thus, a project would be allowed even if it had
specific weapons applications, so long as it had
a non-military application which could be ter-
med "primary."
3. THE FEARS which have keen expressed
by some faculty members that the extension of

zpolicy
the present policy to all research would
severely restrict research at the University aie
completely unfounded. During the ten years
that the policy has been applied to classified
research, more than 80 projects have been
reviewed for compliance with the guidelines.
Only one project has been rejected. Where is
the evidence that a larger proportion of projec-
ts would be rejected if the policy were applied
to all University research?
In fact, since classified Department of
Defense projects are more likely to involve
weapons applications, common sense would
indicate that a much smaller proportion of
projects-if any-would be rejected if the
present policy were applied to all research.
The RPC is scheduled to vote on the proposed
new policy for unclassified research tomorrow.
The committee has invited comments on the
proposal and it is important that members of
the University community air their views on
this critical issue.
If the University intends to respect the
guidelines against weapons research as a
"fundamental ethical principle," then the
proposed change doesn't make any sense.
When confronted with the fact that several
projects clearly violate University rules, the
appropriate response is not to change the rules,
but to eliminate the projects.
Kerson is a research coordinator for the
Michigan Student Assembly.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

L

Vol. XCIII, No. 74

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

oVD0 l
o'1

4 DD 7

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

}

No gift fro
t TUDENTS DIDN'T get any early
Christmas present from their
ofessors at Monday's LSA faculty,
ieeting - but that doesn't mean they
jft empty-handed.
Once again, the effort to give studen-
its the gift of a voice on the college's
,gmost influential committee was rebuf-
fed by the faculty. To no one's sur-
prise, the faculty present defeated the
potion by a large margin. But this
gme around, the matter was at least
,brought up before the governing
faulty for a vote. And this time,
students found they have a core of sup-
port for their position among their
,.,professors.
-Since the '60s, students have been
-pushing for a position on the commit-
tee that has a say on nearly all of the
important decisions affecting LSA.
The past several LSA Student Gover-
,nnent presidents have all placed a
high priority on furthering efforts to
get students the voice they both need
and deserve.
So far, those efforts have proven
futile.
At this week's meeting, faculty
members brought up the typical objec-
tions. Students lack experience, some
tfaculty members argued; students.
ihaven't been at the University long
enough to know what it needs, and they
won't be here long enough to have a
,stake in its future. The committee,
some argued, is too important to be

m the faculty
part of an experiment in student
participation.
These faculty members argue, in ef-
feet, that students are wise enough to
pay the University millions of dollars
in tuition - that they are mature
enough to give the University a reason
to exist - but that they are unable to
havd a position - even a non-voting
position -on the committee which has
the greatest influence over their
education. Brimming with jealous
paternalism, these faculty members
argue that education is too important
to be left to students. In fact, the con-
verse is true: Education is too impor-
tant to be left to closed meetings of
professors.
The only reasoning that made any
sense for voting down the proposal was
that it was not specific enough. The
proposal did not say whether the
student would be a voting or non-voting
member of the committee, nor did it
not specify how long the student's ap-
pointment would run.
But the students and faculty mem-
bers backing the proposal shouldn't be
discouraged. They should view Mon-
day's defeat as a stepping stone; they
should build on the progress they have
made. The student and faculty leaders
who have pushed for a new voice on the
LSA Executive Committee should
remember that if what they were after
were easy to get, Santa would have
given it to them already.

_ v

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Pity for writer on

al

Al

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.: sr .

('- -

To the Daily:
John Jacobs' Opinion Page ar-
ticle, "The need for intervention
in El Salvador" (Daily, Dec. 3),
is a joke. I would take it as such,
were it not for the American and
Salvadoran lives that are at
stake.
For one thing, the title of the
history major's article is poorly
chosen. A "need" implies
something that cannot be done
without, something extreme.
And his opening sentence,
"Recently it's been suggested
from a number of quarters that
the United States should not be
supporting the current regime in
El Salvador." To that I
reply-recently suggested,
nothing. The Salvadoran people
have demanded that the United
States get out from day one of this
country's uninvited and un-
welcome visit.
Mr. Jacobs' article is beyond
criticism and rational discussion.
What is sad is not the number of

...what about his history courses?

He needs not to be condemned,
but pitied, and helped in every
way possible. In a world less
filled with lunacy, Jacobs would
be seen for what he is-a defen-

To the Daily:
John Jacobs' call to arms,
"The need for intervention in El
Salvador" (Daily, Dec. 3), is very
droll, but it does raise an impor-
tant question: What is wrong with
the University's history courses?
Here we have a young man-a
sophomore, to be exact-who
calls himself a history concen-
trator at a major university. Yet
he clings to the quaint notion,
held by ninth grade history
teachers, that the main purpose
of studying the past is to furnish
apologies for one's preconcep-
tions.
Shame on us for criticizing El
SAlvador's harried but earnest

generals, Jacobs bellows. We had
our lynchings and riots, now let
someone else have fun. Let a
nation develop a "democratic
tradition"-equal opportunity to
be slaughtered and the right to
vote for the mannequin of your
choice.
"We must learn from history,"
he solemnly reminds us. Gran-
ted, that is "trite," but it's not
nearly so vapid as the other
cliches that he blithly sprikles
throughout his long-winded,
shallow essay.
According to Jacobs, "We must
distinguish between 'autocratic'
and 'totalitarian' regimes" (the
former like us, the latter don't);

"the media ignore the atrocities
of the left" (don't they know that
power lines and schoolbuses are
being sabotaged at this very
moment?). If we don't intervene,
the Salvadorans will go Red,
"whether they want it or not"
(here we must assume that
Jacobs slipped, intending to say6
"whether we want it or not").
This kind of shoddy reasoning
by a history major is appalling.;
Since when do history professors
assign Reader's Digest and,
Reagan's press releases to their
students?
-Tom McLaughlin
December 4

Salvado,
der of genocide with a severe lack
of understanding.
I hope the Daily will be more
selective in its choice of articles
in the future. This one insults the

good name of the human race,
defies intelligence, and ignores
logic at every word.
-Wayne Shaw

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