It’s very easy for students at the University to feel
isolated from the political drama of our day: Blood spilt in the
sandy reaches of the world can seem a little distant. However, the
Iraq war, subsequent occupation and the rising tide of militarism
in America have direct effects on the lives of students, and we
need to start paying attention. Aside from the tragedy of citizens
our own age, many of whom are reservists trying to pay for college,
dying in a foreign land for dubious reasons, students here bear the
costs of war.

As a result of the expense of the war, federal social funding
has been drastically cut and when combined with the recession and
under-funding of federal education mandates, the states are in a
budget crisis. Michigan faces a $900 million shortfall this year,
and has had to cut $104.5 million from higher education. This
causes program cuts (like the Sexual Assault Prevention Awareness
Center), reduces the number of faculty and of course, raises
tuition. Additionally, researchers are forced to seek funding from
corporations or the military industrial complex itself, which
biases research and restricts intellectual freedom. The University,
for instance, was recently engaged in a bidding contest for an army
biowarfare research center. It increasingly seems that if
researchers want grants, they must tie themselves to corporate
profit or help construct weapons of war.

Further, as tuition rises and manufacturing jobs disappear,
underprivileged students are forced into the military system to pay
for higher education. Enticed by promises of college and money many
young people — particularly those from minority communities
with few remaining avenues of opportunity — enlist or join
the reserves. In Detroit it’s called “air-forcing
out.” Instead of all students having guaranteed access to a
college education, as in every other Western democracy, many in the
United States can only access higher education by bonding
themselves to the dangerous exploitation of the military
system.

Even if one can afford to attend a university, students are now
subjects of government harassment as part of the “war on
terrorism”— Drake University and the University of
Texas were both recently targeted regarding students’
political activities. Membership and attendance lists of political
activities were sought by both federal prosecutors and the military
itself. Perhaps most frightening are government investigations of
student information through new secret “intelligence”
courts, which no one has the legal right to know about. The courts
that oversee these warrants are required to give their approval
without knowing who is being investigated or why. As result of the
Patriot Act, there is no appeal and no oversight to prevent abuse
of this system, as happened during the 1970s’ COINTELPRO, and
there is no reason to believe it is not being abused.

Students bear the costs of war — in the quality of their
education, in their tuition dollars and their civil rights. It is
both in our self-interest to oppose militarism and also our moral
obligation. It is time once again to take up the charge given us
both by the privileges of liberty and position many of us enjoy,
but more importantly by the simple imperative to act for
justice.

Anti-War Action! will be holding a forum about these issues
today at 8 p.m., in Angell Hall Auditorium B, entitled “Books
Not Bombs!” We encourage all interested in these pressing
issues to attend.

Anti-War Action! is a student group.This viewpoint represents
the organization’s official position.

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