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Students examine Institute role in SDI research

By Donald Yee

The MIT Disarmament Study Group (DSG) has collected over 400 signatures from students who pledged not to participate in Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) research, according to Chris Linn '87, DSG student chairman.

Members of MIT Student Pugwash and the DSG collected the student signatures at a booth in Lobby 10. Some students and faculty are currently circulating petitions in labs around the Institute in the pledge drive for faculty, which began approximately one week ago.

"Our goal is to get pledges from around 1000 graduate and undergraduate students, over half the physics faculty and a large number of engineering faculty, particularly those in the electrical engineering department," Linn said.

The nationwide pledge drive was started by graduate physics students at Cornell University this summer, he said. The students wanted to demonstrate that some people are not willing to accept<>

SDI research funds and to show that there is opposition to the program, Linn explained.

The drive at MIT was actually sponsored by the MIT Students Against SDI, although a large number of the people involved in the drive are members of the DSG.

"The problem is that [SDI] is misguided," said Professor of Physics Aron Bernstein, faculty chairman of the DSG. "The only counter to a defense is an increased offense. The program intended to protect us could lead to a Russian buildup. That's not a very wise move."

Bernstein explained that "the DSG exists to promote discussion, education and understanding of the nuclear arms issue on<>

campus.... As a group, we don't take a position, but as individuals we do. I signed that pledge. I helped to circulate that petition."

Linn agreed: "Our main orientation is as an educational group. I do not try to hide the fact that I am opposed to SDI, but we [the DSG] aim not to be partisan. We encourage the expression of all points of view at our meetings."