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SDI Boycott Violates Academic Freedom

The controversy generated by the Strategic Defense Initiative has quite naturally spilled over to university campuses. SDI-sponsored research at universities has become a vehicle for expression of concern about military research at universities generally, as well as about the merits and dangers of the SDI program itself. People question whether either the university qua university or individual faculty members should accept SDI funding. Despite my own deep concern about the goals of SDI, I would

Jack Ruina
The controversy generated by the Strategic Defense Initiative has quite naturally spilled over to university campuses. SDI-sponsored research at universities has become a vehicle for expression of concern about military research at universities generally, as well as about the merits and dangers of the SDI program itself. People question whether either the university qua university or individual faculty members should accept SDI funding.

Despite my own deep concern about the goals of SDI, I would urge extreme caution in restraining university research, and in pressuring colleagues on what research to do and what sponsorship to accept, as a way of conveying political messages.

Even though most people are not pressing—as they might have in the 1960s—for the university itself to take a political position, they are asking their colleagues to do so. This peer pressure, even though informal, affects the intellectual climate adversely. After all, peer review is a significant...

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