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UAlbany is Supporting a Pipeline to War

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We need to start talking about the University at Albany’s involvement in the endless US military industrial complex.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cyber Security had converted a vacant basketball court in Page Hall into a new two story drone lab.

According to the University’s website, Professor Brandon Behlendorf suggested the construction of a drone lab after he stumbled across the vacant room and thought to himself “wouldn’t this be a great place to fly drones?” During his time working at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), Behlendorf extensively researched geospatial modeling of crime as well as whether drone strikes deter terrorism.

Last month Albany Police Department announced that, with a $100,000 loan from the department of Homeland Security, they will be purchasing two drones to assist in safer surveillance methods. The ACLU has noted that “safer surveillance methods”, also known as predictive policing, have sometimes been linked to racial bias.

Furthermore, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) such as those being tested by the University have been used extensively by the United States military. Between 2004 and 2015, 413 separate drone strikes occured killing anywhere between 416-959 civilians including 168-204 children in Pakistan alone. As well as 329 drone strikes killing 174-225 civilians including 44-50 children in Yemen since our involvement in the region began in 2015.

Between the new drone lab; the hiring of ex CIA official, CEHC coordinator and 33 year CIA veteran James E. Steiner; as well as other intelligence agencies employed by the University, near weekly military recruiters posted around campus; and internships with organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy , it is time to have a serious conversation about the University’s role within the military industrial complex and U.S. imperialism as a whole.

This relationship is not a new feat. Gil Klinger, one of the current Vice Presidents of Raytheon (the 3rd largest weapons contractor in the world) received a BA in History and Political Science from the University. Maryanne Lavan, The Senior Vice President of Lockheed Martin (the world’s largest weapons contractor), credits UAlbany’s School of Business with “providing an education that has served her well throughout her career”

Clearly, the University’s relationship with the American military industrial complex, and by extension policies of U.S. imperialism, is nothing new. However, with the creation of the new drone lab and the expansion of the CEHC, it seems as if it will only continue to grow in size. If that is indeed the case, students should be asking questions and the school must answer them.

As students living within the imperial core, it is paramount that we use all means at our disposal to reject the “University to War” pipeline. We can no longer allow the University to train the next generation of weapons contractors and intelligence agents nor develop and test tools designed for the control and mass killing of civilians both domestically and abroad.
Edward Said once said “Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate.” The American Empire requires the American youth to carry on the idea that they are fighting for good so we continue to feed into the war machine. If we ever want to live in a peaceful and equitable world, we must say no.

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