Letter: UMass staff in support of students against military contracts

Faculty, librarians and staff stand with student protesters


Collegian archives (2018)

To the University of Massachusetts Community,

We are faculty, instructors, staff and librarians at UMass Amherst, whose work stands at the core of the educational mission of our public university. We dedicate much of our everyday work to supporting students in their learning, development and engagement. We think all the time about our students’ futures, and we work hard to prepare them to engage and contribute meaningfully to the world, on every scale.

We are a politically diverse group, with vibrant differences and disagreements about what sort of society we hope our students build, about what contributions matter most and about what sort of world we ought to be preparing students for and how best to do so. This diversity of purposes, analyses, politics and methods is a positive characteristic of university life, and we cherish it.

However, while our approaches to teaching, research and service vary widely, we are writing with one voice today to draw a clear line in the sand: UMass Amherst must not support or engage in the morally bankrupt structural and economic support for war and war profiteering.

We are writing today to register our deeply held conviction that university partnerships with military contractors — war profiteers — must end.

Our students are on the front lines (as, historically, students so often have been) of the struggle to hold our public institution accountable to the public good. Our students have demanded that this public university’s values must, at minimum, include affirming the lives and right to equal self-determination of a global public. They have a very clear request: to stand with them in their protest against the shameless peddling of endless war, violence and fear.

We hereby register our profound respect and support for the students who have taken up the charge of demanding that our public university ceases its partnerships with war profiteers. We stand behind our students, and we affirm that their struggle is aligned with the best spirit and tradition of great public universities.

To be clear, we are unequivocally in favor of intellectual freedom; if anyone so desires to hear them, war profiteers may speak in the spirit of intellectual exchange. But the presence of war profiteers on our campus is not about intellectual exchange; it is about commerce, recruitment and mutual partnership. Such economic and political partnership is where we draw the line. We will no longer remain complicit in our institution’s material, structural and implicit political support for the war machine.

We thank our students for calling us to this charge, and we ask all UMass administrators with a conscience to stand with us, on this side of the line, on the life-affirming side of history.

The full list of community signatures can be found here. Those looking to add their name can contact the UMass Coalition for Transformative Justice at [email protected].