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Repress U | The Nation

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Repress U

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7. Privatize, privatize, privatize. Of course, homeland security is not just a department, nor is it simply a new network of surveillance and data mining--it's big business. (According to USA Today, global homeland-security-style spending had already reached $59 billion a year in 2006, a sixfold increase over 2000.) Not surprisingly, then, universities have in recent years established unprecedented private-sector partnerships with the corporations that have the most to gain from their research. DHS's on-campus National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terror (START), for instance, features Lockheed Martin on its advisory board. The Center for Food Protection and Defense relies on an industry working group that includes Wal-Mart and McDonald's offering "guidance and direction," according to its chair.

About the Author

Michael Gould-Wartofsky
Michael is an award-winning author and a MacCracken Fellow in Sociology at New York University, where he is a member of...

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Campus spies. Pepper spray. SWAT teams. Welcome to Repress U, class of 2012.

Millions of recently declassified police documents detail a thirty-six-year reign of state terror.

While vast sums of money are flowing in from corporate sponsors, huge payments are also flowing out to "strategic contracts" with private contractors, as universities permanently outsource security operations to big corporations like Securitas and AlliedBarton. Little of this money actually goes to those guarding the properties, who are often among the most underpaid workers in the universities. Instead, it fills the corporate coffers of those with little accountability for conditions on campus.

Meanwhile, some universities have developed intimate relationships with private-security outfits like the notorious Blackwater. Last May, for example, the University of Illinois and its police training institute cut a deal with the firm to share its facilities and training programs with Blackwater operatives. Local journalists later revealed that the director of the campus program at the time was on the Blackwater payroll. In the age of hired education, such collaboration is apparently par for the course.

Following these seven steps over the past six years, the homeland security state and its constituents have come a long way in their drive to remake the American campus in the image of a compound on lockdown. Somewhere inside the growing homeland security state that is our country, the next seven steps in the process are undoubtedly already being planned.

Still, the rise of Repress U is not inevitable. The new homeland security campus has proven itself unable to shut out public scrutiny or stamp out resistance to its latest Orwellian advances. Sometimes such opposition even yields a free-speech zone dismantled, or the Pentagon's TALON declawed, or a Project Strike Back struck down. A rising tide of student protest, led by groups like the new Students for a Democratic Society, has won free-speech victories and reined in repression from Pace and Hampton, where the university dropped its threat of expulsion, to UCLA, where Tasers will no longer be wielded against passive resisters.

Yet if the tightening grip of the homeland security complex isn't loosened, the latest towers of higher education will be built not of ivory but of Kevlar for the over-armored, over-armed campuses of America.

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