Area citizens protest SDIScientists and students from MIT, Harvard and Tufts said "No to `Star Wars' " at a demonstration Saturday aimed at changing the course of President Reagan's summit with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev in Geneva today.
Cabinet officials have recently counselled Reagan against sacrificing the "Star Wars" defensive research program at the summit.
Charlie Schueler, aide to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass), read a letter from the Senator to the protesters at the rally:
"There is little in his record to indicate that Ronald Reagan will seek any meaningful reduction in nuclear arsenals in next week's meeting with Mr. Gorbachev.... The eloquent pledge by scientists not to participate in Star Wars projects ... should awaken this administration to the notion that the people of this country will not accept weapons in outer space," the letter stated.
Boston City Council member David Scondras said that MIT students should stand up for themselves and refuse to get involved in "Star Wars" research. "Don't accept a job doing research if it makes you sick.... Don't participate, and it won't happen."
"Trade Unions will be unanimously against `Star Wars' ," according to Edward Childs, a representative from the 5500-member Local 26 Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union.
" `Star Wars' is an attack on all poor and working people," Childs said. "We will do anything to oppose you, Mr. Reagan."
The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is destabilizing to the Reagan-Gorbachev summit because it will cause an escalation of the arms race, according to Gary Goldstein, associate professor of physics at Tufts.
To counter the 90 percent effectiveness of "Star Wars," the Soviet Union need only increase their missile stockholds, Goldstein explained.
"It is not enough for college presidents to denounce and then allow SDI research on their campuses," he concluded.
Speakers consider SDI's impact
Undergraduate Association President Bryan Moser '87 called on the Institute to clarify its stance on SDI because of potential political manipulation of MIT.
Rich Cowan G outlined MIT's historical ties with the military, which have been strong since World War II. Cowan said over 40 percent of the MIT Physics department signed a petition refusing to accept an SDI project. Only one of those who did not sign the petition said he declined to sign because he truly believed in the program, Cowan said.
The MIT Lincoln Lab budget currently equals the budget for the rest of MIT, Cowan said. "MIT breeds complacency," he added.
Cowan strongly encouraged MIT to take a stand on SDI. President Paul E. Gray '54 said in his June commmencement speech that MIT would not be used as a political instrument to gain endorsement of SDI. Cowan said that MIT cannot simultaneously allow SDI research and not be used for the purpose of endorsement.
"The only consistent decision MIT can make is not to perform `Star Wars' research," Cowan said.
"The culture of science [at MIT] is a very fragile system," said Sheldon Krinsky, professor of Urban Policy. "SDI makes a mockery of the peer review process in science."
MIT should prohibit research which for security reasons could not go into public journals, Krinsky proposed. "Can there still be SDI-free zones?" he asked.
Professor of Computer Science Joseph Weizenbaum said, "We are being tested.... Should we follow Germany, or should we say `no' to the military?... Human problems transcend technological solutions."
Press conference on SDI
Three professors also held a press conference earlier Saturday. The scientists decried the program on technical, political and economic grounds.
Edward Purcell, a Harvard physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1952, said SDI was put forth without any serious investigation. The offense retains an enormous advantage because it costs ten times as much to destroy a missile as to build a new one, he continued.
Purcell read a statement from his colleague Sheldon Glashow, also a Nobel Laureate in Physics, who wrote, "I would give Star Wars a `D' because it is a danger to peace, a disinclination to arms control, deleterious to American science and it is destabilizing, dumb and damned expensive."
Weizenbaum said he knew of very few computer professors who say SDI can be made to work. Scientists must do more than just say it will not work, he said. Scientists must also apply social guidelines because of a "special responsibility to teach by our own example," he said.
The Soviets are scared of SDI now because of its offensive power, Weizenbaum continued.
Tufts resolved against SDI
The Tufts faculty adopted a resolution last month stating that participation in "Star Wars" is inappropriate for the university.
Over 2000 faculty at universities across the country have signed a pledge to refuse SDI research projects, Goldstein said.
Weizenbaum added that MIT would be able to set a good example for other universities to follow by signing a similar resolution.