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Thursday, May 10, 2007  
Hunger strikers protest UC nuke work

By: Matt Krupnick
Published In: Contra Costa Times

About 40 University of California students and alumni are refusing to eat until the institution stops designing nuclear weapons.

The group began its hunger strike this week after the U.S. Department of Energy announced it had awarded management of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to a group that includes the university. UC had managed the lab on its own since 1952.

At least eight protesters are fasting at UC Berkeley, one of four campuses involved. The others are at UC campuses in San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, said Jedidjah de Vries, a spokesman for the nuclear watchdog group Tri-Valley CAREs.

The strikers will ask the UC Board of Regents next week to sever ties with weapons design, said de Vries, who is not fasting. The federal government's renewed quest for better nuclear weapons has strengthened protesters' resolve, he said.

"It is now incredibly clear this is something (the university) should not be involved in," de Vries said. "This is not appropriate for a university."

A university spokesman urged the protesters to eat.

"While we welcome diverse opinions and dialogue on University of California campuses, we believe a hunger strike is a dangerous way to approach this important debate," UC spokesman Chris Harrington said in a written statement.

At the Berkeley campus, the group has found fewer willing participants because final exams began this week. Protesters are gathering daily near California Hall, which includes Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's office, de Vries said.

If UC regents decline to submit to protesters' demands at next week's meeting, it will be up to each individual whether to continue the hunger strike, de Vries said.

Matt Krupnick covers higher education. Reach him at 925-943-8246 or

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