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Pledge against SDI has arrived at MIT

We would like to announce that the national pledge drive against the Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars" program ["Scientists mount campaign against Star Wars," Sept. 17], has arrived at MIT in Lobby 10. The text of the pledge is attached to this letter.

Seventy-four pledges were collected last Friday alone toward our goal of 1000 science and engineering students. Congressional aides have told us that opposition to SDI by MIT students, staff and faculty could be especially damaging to the credibility of the Star Wars plan.

We don't know the full extent of SDI research funding at MIT, but three professors to our knowledge are already accepting Star Wars funding and many more may have the opportunity. Professors have told us that the SDI office may distribute grants in research areas not directly related to enlarge the SDI constituency. We must express our objections to the SDI plan now, before MIT becomes too financially dependent on SDI to act on the sentiments of many MIT officials, who privately oppose Star Wars.

We would also like to reiterate our request, in a petition co-organized last spring by MIT Student Pugwash and signed by 791 students, that MIT publish a complete list of projects shifted to SDI and new SDI research grants, both on campus and at Lincoln Laboratory.

For students who wish to more actively oppose Star Wars, a new group called "MIT Students Against the Strategic Defense Initiative" will hold its first meeting today, Tuesday, Oct. 8, in MIT Room 7-335 at 7 pm. SDI opponents from other schools such as Harvard will also be attending.

Only the influence of the military industry could keep such an idea as dangerous as Star Wars afloat, bearing out the threat President Dwight Eisenhower predicted in his famous "military-industrial complex" speech. Eisenhower's answer to the threat: "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense without peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Accordingly, Students Against SDI will educate the MIT community, organize informed resistance to Star Wars at local campuses, and promote national awareness of the profound effect SDI funding will have on our government through the influence of defense contractors and on our nation's educational institutions through "mission-oriented" government research grants.

Chris Linn '87->


Disarmament Study Group->

Rich Cowan G->

Scott Saleska '86->

Sarah Tasker '87->

(Editor's note: This pledge came attached to the preceding letter.)

We, the undersigned students and research staff of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's science and engineering departments, believe that the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program (commonly known as Star Wars) is ill-conceived and dangerous. Antiballistic missile defense which is sufficiently effective and reliable to defend the population of the United States against a Soviet attack is not technically feasible. Efforts to develop a system of more limited capability will only induce a build-up of offensive missles by the Soviet Union, jeopardize existing arms control agreements, stalemate current strategic negotiations and, consequently, accelerate the nuclear arms race and undermine international security.

Participation in SDI by individual MIT researchers would lend the University's name to a program of dubious scientific validity, and give legitimacy to this program at a time when the involvement of prestigious research institutions is being sought to increase Congressional support. Researchers who oppose the SDI program yet choose to participate should therefore recognize that this would contribute to the political acceptance of SDI.

The likelihood that SDI funding at MIT would restrict academic freedom and blur the distinction between classified and unclassified research is greater than for other sources of funding. SDI officials openly concede that any successful unclassified project may become classified. The structure of SDI research programs also makes it likely that MIT will be part of a Research Consortium with other universities and industries who will be doing classified research. Moreover, the potentially sensitive nature of the research may invoke legal restrictions required by the Export Administration Act.

The SDI program and its political acceptance depend crucially on the participation of individual scientists and engineers at all levels of research. As one step towards halting this program, we pledge neither to accept SDI support nor work on projects funded by SDI, and encourage others to join us in this refusal. We hope together to persuade Congress and the public not to support this deeply misguided and dangerous program.