February 22nd, 2013 | University

Dept. of Defense decision draws cheers

Students and Elm City residents, who gathered outside Sterling Memorial Library to protest a proposed Department of Defense training center, celebrate the DoD's announcement that the center would not receive funding.
Students and Elm City residents, who gathered outside Sterling Memorial Library to protest a proposed Department of Defense training center, celebrate the DoD's announcement that the center would not receive funding. Photo by Julia Zorthian.

More than 30 undergraduates, graduate students and New Haven residents gathered in front of Sterling Memorial Library this afternoon in what was supposed to be a protest against a proposed Department of Defense training center but turned into a victory rally, after reports earlier this afternoon indicated that the Department of Defense would not fund the project.

A group of graduate students and Yale affiliates organized the protest against the center for its lack of transparency and alleged plans of using New Haven minority residents while training soldiers in interview techniques.

“Don’t for a minute believe that the proponents of the interrogation center changed their course out of the sheer goodness of their hearts,” said Daniel Spaulding GRD ’16, one of the protest’s organizers. “We showed them our power, and they gave way.”

After Spaulding read a statement to the group, Lara Weibgen, who studied art history at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, addressed the crowd for a few minutes as well.

“It’s great that [the center will not be funded], but I don’t think Yale as an institution is by any means innocent of perpetuating systemic means of violence against immigrants,” Weibgen told the News.

The University released two statements this week amidst reports of concern from within the Yale community and the city about the center’s academic integrity and morality in the use of local New Haven residents during training. Most recently, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said Thursday night that the University would not go forward with the proposed center until it has addressed all concerns raised by the Yale and New Haven communities.