UMass Dissidents Struggle Against UMass’ Tie to the Defense Industry – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A new group of students on campus protest against war profiteers

Caitlin Reardon / Daily College Boy (2022)

UMass Dissenters is an antimilitarist movement led by students at the University of Massachusetts. They appeared on campus at the start of the fall 2022 semester and have held weekly meetings at Machmer Hall since late September. Their goal is to pressure UMass to “divest from war, reinvest in life, and rebuild relationships with communities most affected by war.”

The group operates as a chapter for the National Dissident Organization. According to their website, “Dissenters are leading a new generation of young people to reclaim our resources from the war industry, reinvest in vital services, and repair collaborative relationships with the land and people around the world.”

On their social media pages, UMass dissidents state that UMass “fuels war” and “invests in death”. A common criticism made by the group is the University’s partnership with Raytheon Technologies, an American company that produces aerospace and defense technologies. In April 2022, the company won a $500 million contract to develop new combat ships for the US Navy and upgrade pre-existing naval systems.

Raytheon Technologies is a partner of several UMass groups, including the Center for Data Science and the Isenberg School of Management. Raytheon employees are eligible for a 10% tuition discount for select Isenberg School of Management master’s and graduate programs.

“The Isenberg partnership is an educational partnership,” said Anne Massey, dean of the Isenberg School of Management. “We have similar partnerships with many other companies in various sectors – healthcare, banking, etc.”

Raytheon also has a strong, long-standing relationship with the College of Engineering. In 2010, Raytheon employees met with UMass engineering students from underrepresented communities to connect these students to the engineering industry.

Dean Sanjay Raman of the College of Engineering was not available to comment on this partnership. Campus spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said, “The college’s relationship with industry partners prepares students for career success. Many companies that conduct defense-related research are also involved in other industrial sectors, developing dual-use applications that can have broad societal benefits.

UMass Dissenters is not the first group to protest UMass ties to defense companies, or even Raytheon, in particular. The attribute that sets them apart from other campus groups is that UMass Dissenters is not a Registered Student Organization (RSO).

“We want to focus on the fact that it’s not about a hierarchy. We had facilitators at our first meeting, but moving forward, we want to create a community-focused space,” said Arsema Kifle, founding member and second-year political science student. “Everyone has a role to play.”

Group meetings provide both an educational and collaborative space for members. At their first meeting on September 22, organizers gave a short presentation on UMass’ ties to the defense industry before asking attendees to break into groups to discuss actions to support the goals. of the group.

In addition to publicizing UMass’s involvement in the war and pressuring the administration to sever ties with companies such as Raytheon, UMass Dissenters aims to prioritize empathy, joy, hope and gratitude in their activism.

Throughout the meeting, the facilitators and founding members of the group focused on the emotional aspect involved in discussing war and the importance of understanding how these conversations will impact everyone differently.

The initial meeting ended with a call and response between the members, as they read a quote from activist Assata Shakur. “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We need to love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Izzi D’Amico can be reached at [email protected]. Ella Desmond can be reached at [email protected]

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