CIA Officer-In-Residence Program

1987


During the summer of 1987, the CIA arranged the appointment of senior officer George A. Chritton Jr. to the UCSB Political Science Department faculty as a lecturer.  This was part of their new Officer-in-Residence Program, which launched in 1985 as an attempt to, “nurtur[e] relations between intelligence and academia” (Hedley 2008).  For the 87-88 academic year, the agency managed to place senior officers at six U.S. universities, all with faculty status.

Agent Chritton’s appointment had been approved by Professor Dean Mann who, until the start of Fall ‘87, had been the Political Science Department chair. In a letter to Mann dated June 3rd, 1987 from Stanley Moskowitz, the chair of the CIA Training Selection Board at the time, Moskowitz nominated Chritton for the position.  He laid out the agency’s goals for the program and explained that the Agency would fund Chritton’s salary. He stated  the program, “will demonstrate the quality of CIA people…strengthen [the agency’s] professional ties to a fertile and indispensable source of ideas and technical expertise…[and] enhance CIA’s recruiting efforts.”

 To the surprise of both the CIA and UCSB administration, Chritton’s appointment was quickly met with controversy.  UCSB was the first campus where the Officer-In-Residence proved controversial according to Bill Devine, the CIA Public Affairs Officer at the time (Elzer 1987).

It was not until the first Academic Senate meeting of the school year when Chritton’s appointment was made public.  Senate Chair A.E. Keir Nash expressed his concern over the appointment and the irregular hiring process leading the Political Science department to vote on the issue (Moss 1987). On the 28th of October, they voted to demote Chritton’s position to Visiting Fellow, which would prevent him from teaching; however, this vote was only considered advisory to the Cheadle Hall administrators, who ultimately held the hiring authority (Elzer 1987).

The same night as the faculty vote, a bill authored by Dan Zumwinkle passed 14 to 1 by AS Legislative Council.  It called for “faculty, administration, and students to revoke the appointment of CIA agent George A. Chritton Jr. to the UCSB faculty and to take steps to ensure that this incredible situation does not happen again” (Zumwinkle 1987). The bill was presented to the then Chancellor, Barbara Uehling, on the 29th.  It expressed concerns over the implications of the university being affiliated with “such a nefarious organization” (Zumwinkle 1987).  Their main grievances were the morally questionable actions of the CIA, their recruitment on campus, the irregular hiring process, and concerns over the integrity of academic freedom. The bill deadline to dismiss Chritton from any position he may hold at UCSB was set to be November 4th.

On the day following the deadline, AS Student Lobby and Leg Council held a rally urging Chancellor Uehling to dismiss Chritton. The rally was held at noon in front of Cheadle Hall and attracted an estimated 600 people. Rally organizers had arranged for “John Stockwell, the highest-ranking former CIA official to speak out publicly against the agency,” though he was unable to make it due to a flight cancellation (Collins & Elzer 1987).  Following the rally, 150 students occupied the Chancellor’s empty office, stressing that a CIA affiliated faculty member would corrupt the ideals of the university and the school would be “pledged to disinformation”(Collins & Elzer 1987). “If we allow this person to retain an official position within the University of California faculty, then we’re setting a precedent that says it’s okay for members of covert organizations to teach in universities.  Anyone who is interested in preserving the ideals of this university has to oppose this all the way,” explained Todd Gooch, one of the rally organizers (Collins & Elzer 1987). Uehling returned later that day escorted by university police and let  protestors know that Chritton’s appointment was still under review. The students remained inside until Cheadle Hall closed for regular business, at which  point, police began arresting students for trespassing. 38 students were arrested and 35 of those were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for a day.

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, Nov 6, 1987 > Page 1)
(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, November 5, 1987 > Page 3)

Though the anti-CIA sentiment was strongly felt on campus, many wrote to the Nexus voicing their support of Chritton.  The overwhelming defense employed free speech. “I am not defending the CIA as an organization, however, I am defending the rights of individuals…do you not think that you are being just a little selfish by not letting somebody express their view?”, read one Letter to the Editor by Lawrence Leak.  Another letter by Gregory Apt expressed a similar concern over freedom of speech.  “I can only hope that the Academic Senate gets off their fascist, censoring butts and… allow this person to speak here.” 

Two days after Leg Council’s deadline, the day following the rally, the Chancellor announced her decision to keep Chritton as a Visiting Fellow for one year with the possibility of a year extension.  Chritton addressed the public for the first time saying, “The principle of the First Amendment has been upheld. My hope now would be that the volume of the rhetoric is lowered and the quality is raised,” (Elzer 1987).  The Chancellor also cited free speech to defend her decision, stressing that what was of utmost importance was “freedom of speech and the capacity of a university to provide for the expression of a broad range of ideas” (Elzer 1987).  The opposition viewed this decision as “blatant disrespect of student and faculty opinion,” Rob Christiansen told the Nexus (Elzer 1987)

The opposition insisted that Chritton’s appointment was more than just a symbolic gesture to preserve free speech and would legitimize the actions of the agency, as said in Elijah Lovejoy’s Letter to the Editor

To support the CIA is to support destabilization tactics and murder, just so that big American corporations can keep you supplied with your conformist bourgeois life, I refuse to admit that the CIA has any legitimacy whatsoever and am appalled at the thought of having those spooks on Campus.

 Others ridiculed the Chancellor for employing the free speech defense, like Brian Haley in the Nexus:

I know that I speak for all members of this campus community who have yet risen through the ranks of either the university or the CIA to the lofty positions of faculty when I thank the good chancellor for clarifying that freedom of speech is a right which I have not yet earned.

The opposition maintained that the appointment had nothing to do with free speech but everything to do with academic freedom; they insisted that an “agency of disinformation has no place in an institution dedicated to the truth” (Liles 1987).  On November 16th, approximately 75 students delivered a coffin to the office of the Chancellor  as a representation of the death of academic freedom.  “We’re here to present the first of many casualties to result from the appointment of senior CIA Officer George A. Chritton to the UCSB political science department,” Jamie Acton told the Nexus during the protest (Sullivan 1987)

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, Nov 17, 1987 > Page 1)

Some even criticized the academic freedom defense for looking past the CIA’s moral transgressions. Sandy Liles wrote in the Nexus

What I find repellent is the element of self-righteous indignation: bad enough that the CIA should carry out torture, assassinations, and destabilization; God forbid they should invade our guiltless bastion of free thought. 

In response to Professor Robinson’s question, “How can a university, a place of free inquiry, coexist with a government or any other institution which operates under secrecy?”, the opposition  held a five-hour “Teach-in” exploring the relationship between universities and the U.S. government. “It was pointed out to us that if we just focused on the CIA…we’re missing a much broader picture, a much larger vision of the federal government in general and their involvement in the university,” Jaime Acton, Student Lobby Annex Director, told the Nexus (Sullivan 1988).  One pamphlet for the event read, “UCSB is abundant with examples of academic orientation toward the interests of the military-industrial complex,” (Moss 1988).  The Teach-in was organized by the Student Lobby for the Academic Freedom Defense Project, which raised money for the legal defense for the students arrested back in November, though the proceedings eventually ended in a mistrial.  The event was held on Jan 28th, 1988, hosting several speakers including UCSB professors and ex-CIA agent Vern Lyon, who spoke about his involvement with spying on university campuses.

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, Jan 29, 1988 > Page 1)

On May 3rd, 1988, the Political Science faculty voted not to reappoint Chritton due to lack of qualifications (Whalen 1988).  Patrick Whalen’s Daily Nexus article announcing the decision read:

The decision ends nearly six months of unrest among UCSB students, faculty and staff who were outraged when they learned last October that a CIA agent was teaching on campus. Chritton, 55, will leave the university by June 30, when his current appointment is scheduled to end.

(Daily Nexus and its Antecedents > Daily Nexus, May 9, 1988 > Page 6)

 


By: Gabriel Macias

KCSB

1962


UCSB’s radio station, KCSB, first started broadcasting in 1962 from Anacapa Hall. The station was founded by sophomore student, Bill Harrison, and friends, and was originally known as Radio Navajo, after the Anacapa floor hey lived in. KCSB’s commitment to non-commercial and educational programming by and for the public has been evident throughout its history. In the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November, 1963, KCSB’s news reporting and provision of logistical information cemented its role in the community and its position as the campus radio station.

During the 1960s, KCSB became the first University of California station to be licensed by the FCC. According to the KCSB website, by the end of the sixties, KCSB’s programming had expanded to include “free-form music, news, campus sports, public affairs, and cultural-arts programs.” While KCSB initially avoided broadcasting controversial rock music, the very nature of its mission to provide diverse music, news, and information unhindered by commercial interests to its community, already made it the subject of unwelcome attention.

The early seventies were a rocky time – students in Isla Vista protested the Vietnam War, slum conditions, over-policing, and large corporations. KCSB’s reporting of the turmoil occurring in Isla Vista led to the police ordering  the station to shut down in April 1970. KCSB is the only licensed radio station to ever be shut down by the police this way, and while it was soon brought back on air, this event remains a crucial aspect of KCSB history because it serves as a demonstration of its commitment to providing the community with necessary information and representing unheard voices.

(1970, April 19). “KCSB ordered shut down; Ban in effect during curfew.” El Gaucho, p. 1.

 

Throughout its time at UCSB, KCSB has worked to connect with the student community and beyond. Community members run the station in a democratic, collaborative, and group oriented way. According to Ted Coe, KCSB’s advisor, “nothing exists [on campus] that’s quite like KCSB – a focus on the arts, a focus on underrepresented voices, emerging talent, people who don’t have corporate major level backing. There’s a focus on trying to help the little people that don’t have that support, and the ordinary folks, and that’s really unusual.” The station’s focus on representing voices in music and public affairs that could otherwise be drowned out by corporate interest makes it a natural part of student activism at UCSB. Students and community members who get involved with the station bring their activism with them, and the programs they create and news they share are shaped by their commitment to these ideals. KCSB highlights people from marginalized communities, people with political messages, people who would otherwise be ignored by more commercial stations focused on immediate profit. For example, students have put together programs dedicated to women in domestic and international music. KCSB also works to create events in the community, ranging from shows supporting local musicians to organizing panel discussions on topics such as environmental racism and natural disasters.

At its core, KCSB is about serving the community through its provision of music, art, and news that clearly differs from stations influenced by commercial interest. KCSB creates an opportunity for students to discover underrepresented musicians, learn about music and public affairs, and share their passions by listening to the station and participating in it. The station’s history shows its commitment to presenting the UCSB community with an educational platform dedicated to expanding the community’s sphere of interest while also connecting us through their creation and coverage of local events.


By: Mara Stojanovic

Featured Image: 1978 Staff photo, pulled from KCSB
[Coe, T. (2019, March 8). Personal interview.]
[KCSB, KCSB-FM, Retrieved from https://www.kcsb.org/.]
[(1970, April 19). “KCSB ordered shut down; Ban in effect during curfew.” El Gaucho, p. 1. https://alexandria.ucsb.edu/downloads/5h73px13f.]