Members of Students for a Democratic Society organized a sit-in at the Career Center to protest Lockheed Martin Corp. recruiters on River Campus. Lockheed Martin is a defense contractor that has been contracted to produce weapons for the Iraq War.

SDS initiated the protest, entitled ‘UR Making Peace Not War.” The co-coordinator of this event, graduate student Ryan Acuff, explained that the purpose of this protest was to oppose the University’s alleged support for Lockheed Martin and the Iraq War.

‘[What we] planned to achieve by this is to raise the awareness on campus that one of the defense contractors is interviewing on campus that is directly contributing to the war and that the University sponsors,” he said.

Acuff estimated that about 35 to 40 people arrived to protest throughout the afternoon, and at some points as many as 20 people participated at a time.

‘It is important for students to at least know about these issues, to be educated about where the University stands both economically and morally in relation to these defense contractors and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” member of SDS and junior Rachel Odhner said. ‘Part of today’s events was the circulation of a petition which calls for the University of Rochester to do a comprehensive review of its connections to the wars and acts of military aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan and to make the resulting information transparent to all of the campus community.”

According to Acuff, UR has connections with the Iraq War and its related defense industries, such as the U.S. Air Force Office, ITT Industries Space Systems, Geospatial Systems and Lockheed Martin, which are listed on the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’s Web site as past research partners.

‘This is one of the reasons we are circulating a petition for the University to an engage in a comprehensive review of its connections to the war effort (through the military, Department of Defense, war profiteers/defense contractors, etc.),” Acuff said. ‘We at SDS would also like to learn more. I think there should be an open discussion between the administration and SDS, and ultimately with all members of the U of R, but all in the climate of transparency.”

Part of the reason for SDS’s protest was to get more students involved and to raise awareness about the military and the University’s involvement in its operations.
Inspired by Barack Obama’s recent win, SDS expressed its hope for these needed changes.

The group also endorses Obama’s call for grassroots action. Members of the group say they are inspired to take a stand against war and to begin the movement toward peace.

One member called for the end of the War on Terror because it is a war without clear objectives. According to the gathered students of SDS, they were not allowed to meet the Lockheed Martin representatives. They instead gathered in the Career Center lobby area without interrupting the interview process or any other activity.

Some of the students said that they were frustrated at not having the chance to meet the Lockheed Martin representatives. They thought that meeting the representatives would help them be more educated about Lockheed Martin. They also thought it would be a great opportunity to ask them questions about how the corporation feels about its place in giving information to other people.

Senior Gregory Balonek reacted to the protesters’ reasoning.

‘There was a protest?” Balonek said. ‘I don’t think you can define about 10 people sitting in a corner a protest. I thought the protest was very invisible at the Career Center.”

Lockheed Martin visits UR just as many other companies that recruit students for job and internship positions do every year.

Assistant Dean and Career Center Director Burt Nadler described Lockheed Martin, as with all recruiters that come to River Campus, as guests of the center who are entitled to interview in a professional and confrontation-free atmosphere.

‘Recruiters are in our office to complete their efforts without distractions or disruptions,” Nadler said. ‘Persons who recruit are human resource professionals, line managers or currently serve in roles being recruited for. They are not senior managers who are, by status, title or roles, appropriate to discuss moral issues.”

‘Our relationship with all employers, whether this particular firm, Peace Corps, Teach for America, M’T, etc., is very strong, mutually beneficial, professional and based on honesty and equal access for students who seek consideration as well as information,” Nadler concluded.

Islam is a member of the class of 2012.

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