UC Students and Faculty Call for Divestment from Defense Contractor Involved in Family Separation Policy

Photo courtesy of Syd Stevens on Facebook.

The UC Student Association (UCSA) called on UC President Janet Napolitano to cut ties with defense contractor General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) due to its participation in the detainment of undocumented children.

In a statement released Monday, UCSA wrote: “To work with a company actively taking part in the state-sanctioned violence of separating families seeking asylum, and profiting from it, is to be complicit in the inhumanity of [its] actions.”

UCSA’s statement comes after national coverage of the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy separating parents and children seeking asylum at the border.

While GDIT is not directly involved with the family separation policy, it is a contractor for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement. HHS contracts out casework services for unaccompanied children who cross the border, paying GDIT $1.7 million per year.

Last September, UC President Janet Napolitano pledged to defend students of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and called on Congress to find a solution to President Donald Trump’s decision to end the program. Napolitano reaffirmed her support for DACA students while arguing against child separation at the border on June 19.

Despite UC support for undocumented students, the UC system contracts out administration of the Analytical Writing Placement Examination, an exam given to newly admitted students, to GDIT. UC faculty and staff work closely with GDIT for the scoring process of the exam.

UCSA joined with University Council AFT (UC-AFT), a UC union representing faculty and librarians, who released a similar statement on June 18 calling for a divestment from GDIT.

“Contracting out an educational process is a questionable practice for a university to begin with,” said the UC-AFT statement. “Contracting out to a defense contractor that enables the U.S. government to rip children away from their parents and place them in concentration camps is an unconscionable moral failing.”

Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books