While the fate of the University of California’s contract with the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) remains undecided, students opposing the UC’s role in the lab will host “The University’s Role In War and Peace” presentation tonight in the MultiCultural Center Theater at 7.
The free event includes a four-scene original play titled, “I Went to the University of California and All I Got Was This Stupid Thermo-Nuclear Weapon,” and features interpretive dances, as well as a dramatization of a UC Regents meeting.
Will Parish, one of the event’s organizers and a coordinator for the UC Nuclear Free campaign at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, said fellow activists will wear nuclear warhead costumes today in the Arbor as advertisement for tonight’s event. He said the group is also hosting a rally against UC lab management tomorrow in Storke Plaza at noon.
The University has managed LANL since the U.S. government created it in 1943 to design an atomic bomb. Lab scientists fulfilled this goal, making and detonating the world’s first nuclear weapon in 1945. Since then, LANL has gone on to projects such as hydrogen fuel cell research, but continues to oversee nuclear weapons development in the U.S.
In 2003, the U.S. Dept. of Energy decided to put oversight of LANL up for bids for the first time, citing mismanagement by UC. Currently, UC and partner Bechtel National are competing against the University of Texas and its partner Lockheed Martin for the contract, which will be awarded on Dec. 1.
Event organizer and UCSB sociology graduate student Darwin Bondgraham said most students seem unaware of the involvement of UC professors and employees with nuclear weapon designs at LANL.
“By default every nuke [in the U.S.] has been designed by a UC employee,” Bondgraham said.
When he was an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, Parish said, he saw the UC system as a liberal institution, but he changed his views after graduating and becoming involved with anti-nuclear weapon groups.
“I had this perception that the UC is full of integrity,” Parish said. “People go [to the UC] to work out problems in society. In reality the liberalness comes from the students and faculty.”
Parish said he thinks the UC presents a false image of its lab management.
“The UC is like a benevolent absentee landlord,” he said. “It gives this illusion that it provides oversight.”
Parish said he hopes to get students more involved in both university and national political issues through tonight’s event.
“The main problem in moving to demilitarize UC is that so few people are aware of the problem,” Parish said. “We figured this would be a good starting point for a larger education campaign.”
Bondgraham said he wants to help create a student group that specifically addresses issues regarding peace in an atomic age and have the group begin projects by next quarter that promote peace. He said he thinks UC, students and citizens should focus on removing nuclear weapons instead of creating more.
“For me, science isn’t the important part – it’s the politics, the sociology,” Bondgraham said. “Nuclear weapons are a social problem. It’s all about figuring out a new political and social order.”