Student group demands UMass cut ties with Raytheon

  • Students protest at UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management on Nov. 9, demanding the school cut ties with defense company Raytheon.  FOR THE GAZETTE/LINA MULUALEM

Published: 11/15/2022 7:38:16 PM

AMHERST — An anti-war group at the University of Massachusetts Amherst called the Dissenters is demanding that the university’s business school sever its ties with the defense and aerospace company Raytheon Technologies.

The university, however, says the partnership between Raytheon and the Isenberg School of Management provides value to students and supports the school’s mission to offer accessible and affordable education to all learners.

To make their demands known, about 30 students gathered around the Isenberg School on the flagship campus last week, where they displayed posters and signs outlining the group’s demands. In addition to the demonstration, members also submitted a petition supporting their position with over 700 signatures from both students and staff.

The Dissenters are active at several college campuses across the country.

Raytheon, a company headquartered in Virginia but with deep ties to Massachusetts, has been the frequent target of protesting at college campuses due to the company’s connection to authoritarian countries such as Saudi Arabia. Activists accuse the company of profiteering off military conflicts that these countries are involved in, and often protest when Raytheon makes an appearance at campus job fairs.

“We did chants outside just to draw the attention of students, but also Isenberg faculty,” said Arsema Kifle, a sophomore at UMass Amherst and a member of the Dissenters group. “A large part of this whole (protest) was to make ourselves known and make ourselves heard.”

Eventually, the students moved the protest to inside the building, where they also presented their petition to faculty.

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski defended the ties between Isenberg and Raytheon.

“The Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst works with a wide variety of companies, including Raytheon, to provide discounted graduate educational opportunities to employees, some of whom are residents of the commonwealth,” he said. “These partnerships support Isenberg’s mission to offer state-of-the-art education that is accessible and affordable to all learners.”

Toby Paperno, a UMass sophomore and Dissenter, said while the Nov. 9 protest drew only around 30 people, the main goal was to present the 700-signatory petition, and that further protests are planned for the future.

“We wanted this to be more like the first step in our campaign,” Paperno said. “We want to escalate more after this.”

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.
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