Demanding that a CIA agent not be allowed to teach on campus, student protesters on Thursday occupied the chancellor's office at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and police began making trespassing arrests after the building was supposed to close for the day.
Campus police and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies arrested 38 students. Three were cited for trespassing and released; five were booked for investigation of trespassing and passively resisting arrest, and the remainder chose to be booked for trespassing rather than to accept citations.
Sheriff's officials said bail was set at $500 for those arrested. They said some were expected to post bail, others were expected to remain overnight for arraignment today and some might be released on their own recognizance, depending on the size of the jail population.
No one was hurt in the protest, according to campus police.
As about 20 officers moved in, the crowd in the outer office of university Chancellor Barbara Uehling dwindled to about 35 from its original peak of more than 100 students. Uehling visited her office for an hour and then left without incident, saying that the issue of the CIA agent's status at the school was still under review.
The students want to rescind the recent two-year appointment of George A. Chritton Jr., a 30-year veteran CIA officer, as a visiting lecturer in political science. Uehling also faces a request from some political science professors that Chritton's status be lowered to visiting fellow, which would allow him only to deliver guest lectures in other teachers' classes and forbid him from offering his own courses.
Issue Divides Campus
The issue has divided the campus, known for its radicalism in the late 1960s and early '70s. The protesters said Chritton's appointment gives an unwanted stamp of approval to what they alleged are many illegal acts by the CIA. They also say that the CIA link could make UC Santa Barbara teachers traveling abroad the targets of anti-American terrorism.
Like CIA lecturers at three other American universities, Chritton remains on the CIA payroll, thus raising other issues: Is he speaking freely or under the agency's direction, and might the CIA be using his presence to recruit on campus?
"If we allow this person to retain an official position within the University of California faculty, then we are setting a precedent that says it's OK for a member of a covert organization to teach here," said Todd Gooch, a member of the student legislative council and a protest organizer.
Chritton could not be reached for comment.
Chritton's supporters, including the editorial writers for the student newspaper, The Nexus, said Chritton should be protected by the principle of academic freedom and that even students who oppose CIA activities might learn something from his lectures on intelligence gathering and international terrorism.
Named Last Summer
Last summer, Chritton was appointed by the acting vice chancellor for academic affairs, Robert Michaelson, with the approval of the chairman of the Political Science Department, according to campus spokeswoman Margaret Weeks.
Uehling "recognizes the students' interest in the matter," Weeks said, but she added that the chancellor does not think that occupying her office "is the best way to have a reasoned dialogue."
An estimated 600 people attended a noontime rally against Chritton, and about 200 of them entered the Administration Building and marched up to Uehling's outer office on the fifth floor. A standoff ensued when the chancellor said she was willing to discuss the matter with eight students; the students refused that offer and stayed, chanting, singing, scribbling protest graffiti on the walls and eating pizza. Their numbers then dropped to about 40 as the 5 p.m. deadline for closing the building approached.
According to a CIA spokesman in Virginia, Chritton's presence on campus is part of a program of offering CIA lecturers to universities, similar to corporate executives taking sabbaticals to teach. Similar lecturers are at Harvard and Georgetown universities and the University of Texas but the spokesman said he knows of no protests against them.
"They are people with a lot of experience, usually at the end of their careers," said the spokesman, Bill Devine. The program aims to "help people understand how intelligence is used in making the foreign policy of this country. That got a lot of interest this summer," he added, referring to the Congressional hearings into the Iran-Contra affair.
Devine denied that Chritton was actively recruiting on campus for the CIA. "We have people to recruit," he said, adding, however that Chritton would be willing to discuss a career in the agency with any student who approaches him.
The CIA spokesman declined to comment directly on Thursday's protest. "The ball is in the university's court. We have confidence in the university's approach to the issue," he said.