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Letter to UNB President Eddy Campbell on concerns with military collaboration

Dr. Eddy Campbell,
President of University of New Brunswick
Sir Howard Douglas Hall, Rm 111
University of New Brunswick
3 Bailey Drive
P.O. Box 4400
Fredericton, NB
E3B 5A3

Dear Dr. Campbell

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your recent appointment
as President of the University of New Brunswick. As members of the UNB and broader
Fredericton community, we would like an opportunity to discuss with you an issue that
has concerned us for some time: The nature of UNB’s collaboration with the Canadian
military and the implications this may have on academic freedom and integrity.

On April 6th, 2007 the Fredericton Peace Coalition wrote an open letter to then UNB
President John McLaughlin raising our concerns about UNB/Military collaboration
(attached). Despite the letter being published in the Daily Gleaner and the
Brunswickan, as well as a subsequent re-issuing of the letter, we received no reply.
We would like to develop a more constructive relationship with your administration and
would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss this issue.

Funding affects academics. Funding from the Canadian military, through the Department
of National Defence (DND), is no different. Our initial concern in 2007 was sparked by
an Advanced Learning Technologies Symposium organized to discuss “potential areas for
UNB/Military collaboration” with a special emphasis on encouraging closer ties between
CFB Gagetown and university departments and faculties. This meeting was closed to
members of the UNB community and the general public.

We also have an ongoing concern regarding the independence of the Gregg Centre for the
Study of War and Society. Where academics receive DND funding (either directly or
indirectly) to study the Canadian Military we effectively have a situation of the
military studying itself: a situation rife for the creation of propaganda guised as
academic research. As we stated in our letter to Dr. McLaughlin over 2 years ago: “It
is important for military issues to be the subject of academic enquiry. However, when
the major partner in this research is the subject, in this case the military, there is
little room for objectivity.”

The Fredericton Peace Coalition is also concerned with military recruitment on campus.
We have found that UNB greatly facilitates military recruitment on campus regardless of
the conduct and honesty of recruiters or the accuracy of their information. At the same
time, a number of road blocks are put in the way of those who would like to provide
alternatives to military service to students and counterpoints to the recruiter’s
information.

We would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss our concerns in more depth. We can
be reached at info@frederictonpeace.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Matthew Abbott, UNB Student
Dr. Jack Gegenberg, UNB Professor
Dave Steele, UNB student
Robert Young, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms
Craig Mazerolle, UNB/STU Young NDP
Gloria Paul
Rev. George Feenstra
Alisa Carnall
Marie Allard
Tracy Glynn
Julie Michaud
On behalf of the Fredericton Peace Coalition

——-

Open Letter to Dr. John McLaughlin, President of the University of New Brunswick

April 6, 2007

Dear Dr. McLaughlin

On March 28, 2007, UNB faculty and staff were invited to the Advanced Learning
Technologies Symposium to hear about “potential areas for UNB/Military collaboration”
with a special emphasis on encouraging closer ties between CFB Gagetown and university
departments and faculties. Notably, students were not invited to this briefing and
local citizens who tried to register were informed they were not eligible to attend.
What happened during the briefing and why were doors closed to all but faculty and
staff? Are students and the wider community not affected by the nature of academic work
undertaken at UNB?

Department of National Defense (DND) funding, like all funding, comes with strings
attached. The majority of academics who receive DND funding are supportive of the
Canadian military’s current operations while several Peace Studies programs suffer
under funding. Peter Langille, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, in a
briefing to the federal government Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans
Affairs, described those who receive DND funding as “embedded academics.” UNB already
receives DND funding for the Gregg Centre. With greater prospect of “UNB/Military
collaboration”, can we honestly expect to have objective academic work concerning
military issues conducted at UNB? Given the closed nature of the briefing on March
28th, the student population and general public are being left in the dark as to what
this collaboration may look like and are not being given an opportunity to voice their
views on such a controversial collaboration.

It is perfectly appropriate for military issues to be the subject of academic enquiry.
However, when the major partner in this research is the subject, in this case the
military, there is little room for objectivity. Robert Baldwin, one of the founders of
the Canadian democratic ideal, envisioned universities as institutions where academics
could freely explore truth without interference from various special interest groups.
He saw this freedom as the cornerstone of our democracy. Collaborating with the
military removes this freedom.

Furthermore, given the current nature of the Canadian military, we denounce any ties
between the Canadian military and the university. Canada’s military is no longer a
peacekeeping force. Missions in Haiti and Afghanistan, where evidence exists of the
Canadian military bringing hardship to local populations show clearly the new face of
Canada’s Armed Forces. The Counter-Insurgency Manual, currently in development by DND,
shows clearly that DND is seeking new tactics such as deception and fear mongering in
protecting its image as well as combating its enemies. By working with the military,
UNB would be supporting an institution, which endeavors to cover up the truth to
achieve its ends. UNB must continue in the academic tradition of Robert Baldwin by
ensuring that academic work not be tainted, and rendered unsound, by “collaboration”
with the military-industrial complex.
We, students, faculty and members of the wider community, request that UNB take several
measures to ensure the academic integrity of the university. Firstly, any discussions
regarding collaboration with the military must be open to the wider UNB community as
this collaboration has profound implications for the university. Secondly, the
university, as a public institution, must take a more active role in demanding more
government spending for education.

Dr. McLaughlin, we look forward to your prompt attention to these issues of serious
concern.

Sincerely,

Matthew Abbott (UNB Student), Tracy Glynn, Gloria Paul, Jordan House (UNB student),
members of the Fredericton Peace Coalition
RISE
Kevin Beets, UNB student
Sarah MacLellan, UNB student
Larissa Fulawka, UNB student
Melanie Bell, UNB student
Andrea Norlund, UNB student
Catrina Haun, UNB student
Theresa Richards, UNB Student
John McKendy, Professor of Sociology at St. Thomas University
Robert Hunger
GRASPe (the grassroots association for student power) McGill University

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