University Prostitution

September 25, 2007

Since June of 1965 five UCLA students and a professor have left Los Angeles each summer bound for six weeks in Santiago, Chile; and each February their six Chilean counterparts have flown north to spend their school vacation in Los Angeles. Informally referred to as the "Chile-Law Program" and funded annually by the U.S. Department of State at roughly $16,500, this exchange of students has as its expressed purpose the acquaintance of "the students and professor with the various aspects of the host country's culture through an examination of its legal profession, process and institutions." It is a UCLA program in that the Office of Overseas Programs on the Los Angeles campus selects participating students from UCLA, directs the overall program for both Chilean and U.S. students, and yearly renegotiates funding with the Department of State.

It was while participating in last summer's program in Santiago that we learned the real intent behind this State Department-financed student exchange: it provides the vehicle for bringing potential Chilean leaders to the United States in the hope of favorably indoctrinating them. An exchange between law schools was chosen primarily because the State Department recognized the strategic importance of Chilean law schools in training the future political leaders of Chile. A number of social science graduate students with professional interests in Latin America have been included in the group sent from Los Angeles, UCLA administrators reasoning that the entire group would benefit from interdisciplinary composition.

Methods of selecting students have differed between Los Angeles and Santiago for a number of reasons, one of the most important being State Department influence in the choice of Chilean participants. While the North American students are chosen by a panel consisting of several law professors and perhaps a previous participant, selection of the Chileans is a different matter. On their panel sit the Dean of the Chilean Law School, a UCLA advisor, several Chilean law professors plus a representative of the United States Information Service (USIS), that branch of the State Department responsible for the program both in Santiago and in Washington. The program contract accepted by UCLA declares that the selection of participants are "subject to the approval by (sic) the Department (of state) and the American Embassy in Santiago." Since the intense politicization of Latin American university students makes party affiliation an almost inescapable factor in personal identification, all Chilean participants are scrutinized politically by the USIS.

The result of this investigation of political beliefs is evident in the tendency to exclude radical leftists and communists from the program. Bias favoring centrist and rightist students is readily admitted by USIS personnel with the explanation that few socialist and communist law students reflected any change in values after their return from the U.S. Moreover, these students then repeated their anti-U.S. comments with the added confirmation that they had witnessed the perversions of capitalist society personally.

Obviously the State Department seeks only a short-run return and unrealistically expects a student to change his value system immediately after a six-week trip, a time when he will be especially sensitive to the charge of selling out. This shortsighted policy of the Department of State is deficient in at least three other respects: (1) the United States is placing the support of its resources behind rightists and centrists, assuming that only they will lead Chile, thereby strengthening the U.S. tendency to thwart by coercion the installation of leftist governments; (2) the United States is made to appear suspicious and insecure, lacking the generosity and faith inherent in Mark Van Doren's stricture to teachers to persevere even though it is apparent they may never know the results of their labor; and (3) the United States is exacerbating her own students' ignorance of the Latin American left, an increasingly significant political conglomeration.

Our purpose is not to condemn government support of university programs. Rather it is to point out that the Chile-Law Program is a clear example of the manner in which the names and reputations of United States universities are being used by government for political purposes. Each university - UCLA and the University of Chile - should be free to choose its best qualified, most highly motivated students. Since political affiliation is so marked in Chile, the university should select students representing the entire political spectrum. From the UCLA Daily Bruin, November 1, 1968

Tags: Chile, UCLA, foreign exchange, political bias

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