Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass must cut the cord with Raytheon Technologies

Students should not be pressured to work for war profiteers
Daily Collegian (2022)

Employment prospects are clearly a central concern for college students. This anxiety influences the school in which students enroll and the major they declare. Students wonder what opportunities open with the completion of their degree. Should students prioritize their passions or their job prospects? Will it all be worth it?

For those who pursue higher education, there’s an expectation that after four years, you will walk across the stage and straight into the doors of gainful employment. This often rings especially true for science, technology and engineering (STEM) majors, many of whom enter the field for the express purpose of quality internships, higher employability and enjoyment of higher median incomes.

This is where the University of Massachusetts comes into the picture. One benefit of attending such a large, well-established public research institution is the near-countless diverse opportunities and resources made available to students. Perhaps the most pertinent of these are the internships and job fairs provided by the University.

UMass has been partnered with Raytheon Technologies (RTX), a merger of Raytheon and United Technologies. Raytheon is the largest aerospace and defense conglomerate in the United States. It manufactures numerous weapons of warfare, such as guided missiles, aircraft engines, air surveillance systems and strategic kill engines. A 2022 revenue report of $67.1 billion showed that the company is surpassing similar defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

For decades, Raytheon has been criticized for its production of military devices like the Joint Standoff Weapon, which is banned by over 100 countries due to the disproportionate dangers posed to civilians. Over 90 federal lawsuits have been filed against the company for chemical contamination of US soil and water from production sites in Tucson, Arizona and St. Petersburg, Florida.

The two schools partnered with Raytheon are the Isenberg School of Management and the College of Engineering. To sweeten the pot for students looking for employment, Raytheon offers express incentives to those who join its ranks; students pursuing certain Isenberg graduate programs are eligible for a 10 percent discount on tuition.

My criticism isn’t of these young adults seeking secure jobs. Having to pay off mountains of student loans, looking for housing and settling into a stable occupation is no crime. However, it isn’t right that they are often left with no choice but to enter the military-industrial complex, powered by predatory defense contractors like Raytheon and the United States military itself.

There’s also the glaring issue of transparency between Raytheon and UMass. In 2020, the Daily Hampshire Gazette looked at 11 purchase orders between the two organizations. The paper found that the University’s research collaborations with Raytheon constituted nearly $1.5 million. Beyond this sum, the orders were highly redacted; amongst the 11 orders inspected, entire pages detailing the proposed works were redacted.

This past week, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported on a demonstration during a Raytheon-led internship and employment information session for prospective engineering majors. It was organized by the UMass Dissenters, a student advocacy group promoting the administration’s divestment from Raytheon.

It’s UMass’ responsibility to provide its students with a shot at more ethical but equally competitive internships and occupations out of college. With a new chancellor at the helm, there’s a clear opportunity for the administration to act. UMass students deserve the chance to enter careers that are not just lucrative but also ethical.

Betty Spinrad can be reached at [email protected].

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  • T

    TomOct 11, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    It is a fact that most major engineering companies have defense contracts, either directly or thru subs. (GE, SaaB, GM, Subaru, Boeing, etc. ) and they all make tons of civilian non-military products as well.
    The question is, What kind of research is UMass conducting with them?
    Are we able to know if the products will be tools of war, or simply avionics that will safely guide your flight from Boston to LAX with maximum fuel efficiency? A deeper investigation is clearly needed if we are going down this ethical road.

  • C

    ClassOf91Oct 6, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    I fail to see any logic in the argument that a company who actively recruits on campus is somehow pressuring any individual student. That makes zero sense. UMass is lucky that companies find value in alumni and actively want them to join their company. If a student shares the author’s worldview they’re under no compulsion to join Raytheon or any other employer for that matter.