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Chicago students say, ‘CIA off campus!’

By staff |
August 31, 2019
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Activists on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus push to stop CIA recru
Activists on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus push to stop CIA recruiting. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago, IL - On the afternoon of August 28, members of Students for a Democratic Society and AnakBayan Chicago, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, passed out flyers on the quad to oppose the partnership that the university has with the CIA. SDS members held a banner reading “CIA off campus,” the slogan that has been used in past decades by student activists around the country in similar campaigns. Protesters held signs each detailing a different CIA operation and the number of deaths it caused.

In February 2018, the UIC announced that they had become a CIA Signature School. Only three months later, Gina Haspel was named the director of the Agency. Haspel has a long history of running torture operations across the globe.

The CIA Signature School program aims to recruit students, particularly international students, into their ranks. Student activists are opposed to the partnership because of issues of privacy, a troubling history of how the CIA interacts with international students on university campuses, and because the CIA is an tool of U.S. imperialism.

UIC is the fourth university to enter into this partnership, coming after the City University of New York Baruch Campus, the University of New Mexico, and Florida International University. All these universities were targeted because of their large populations of students of color and international students. Student and faculty activists at CUNY Baruch College forced their university to release the memorandum of understanding with the CIA in 2018, which includes the statement that one of the purposes of the partnership is to “push a diversity and inclusion brand.”

“Partnerships like this normalize imperialism, and that’s something we have to stand against whenever it shows up,” said one SDS member.

UIC student activists held two CIA Off Campus events during the Spring 2019 semester, but this is their first action as a newly-formed chapter of SDS. AnakBayan Chicago is also starting a student chapter at UIC. “CIA Off Campus” is an ongoing campaign at UIC.

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