Don't Open a Department of Defense Training Center at Yale

Yale University should not partner with the Department of Defense to open a training center that uses New Haven's immigrant community as test subjects. With no input from the community it represents, the administration has commited itself to training special forces in intelligence gathering techniques. This goes against the values of the global community it professes to uphold. Moreover, it defeats the purpose of a liberal arts education: the free and public exchange of ideas and knowledge. 

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Update: 2/18/13, 12:54 a.m.

An earlier version of this overview incorrectly stated that the center would train soldiers in enhanced interrogation techniques. We corrected this error on 2/17/13. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused, and realize that the difference in language is significant. The language of the petition has not changed. 

The petition replicates the language of the Yale Herald and the quotes it has collected from the center organizers (see links in petition).

Don’t Bring War to Campus: Preserving the Global Community at Yale

On January 25 and January 28, 2013, The Yale Herald and Yale Daily News reported that the Department of Defense plans to establish at Yale University, as early as April 2013, a center that would train U.S. Special Forces in a variety of skills, including interviewing tactics designed for lie detection, and would advise them in the purchases they make from scientists. The Yale Herald reported that the center’s main goal would be “to improve the quality of military intelligence.” The same article reported that Dr. Charles Morgan, professor of psychiatry and head of the project, “will draw many of his subjects from New Haven’s immigrant communities – this includes Moroccans, Colombians, Nepalese, Ecuadorians, and others.”

Yale already receives funding for a variety of programs on campus related to the military, but in this instance, it would be inviting an entire apparatus and offering university workers, facilities, scholars, as well as intellectual products, specifically for military training operations. The establishment of a Department of Defense training facility on campus would be incompatible with the values of respect and inclusivity we are constantly striving to uphold in our classrooms, on our campus, and in our communities, not to mention with the humanistic ideals of the university. We conceive of the university as a space where people, of all national affiliations-- including American, whose lives have been affected by war and military conflict, can feel welcome, regardless of the country’s relationship to the Department of Defense. The presence of specially trained operatives on our campus for the purpose of learning intelligence gathering techniques targeting particular ethnic and racial groups would be a direct affront to the very spirit of “global community” our administration professes to uphold.

In an effort to preserve this spirit of global community and to ensure that the campus does not become, as much as possible, a military training ground, we invite Yale affiliates and the larger community to sign this petition against the mobilization of university personnel and resources for the Department of Defense. We ask that the administration immediately reject the proposal for the USSOCOM Center for Excellence in Operational Neuroscience, as well as for any military centers at Yale.

We realize that potential grievances with this proposed project will vary depending on one’s personal and communal commitments, therefore we invite those who feel so compelled to contribute to the language of the petition via the comments section, in addition to their signatures. The composite document will be delivered to Yale’s admini
We open up the discussion with the following issues in hopes of generating a collective reflection online and on campus (and perhaps beyond):

- Transparency and ethics
- Accountability
- Place of military training on campus
- Impact on immigrant community
- Impact on university climate
- Mobilization of academic scholarship for military goals
- Lack of consultation in decision to bring project to Yale
- Ultimate usage of interviewing techniques  
- Repercussions for interviewees

The following contributed to initiating this petition:
Megan Asaka, Nathalie Batraville, Sofia Betancourt, Andrew Dowe, Max Fraser, Kristin Graves, Fadila Habchi, Rebecca Hayes Jacobs, Jamicia Lackey,  Najwa Mayer, Michelle Morgan, Jaime Myers-McPhail

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