Just days after Tufts university administration invited General Dynamics to campus, the school moved to invite yet another major arms manufacturer and defense contractor, Raytheon, to come and present to students in the School of Engineering. In opposition to Raytheon, their presence on Tufts campus, and the administration’s complicity in the crimes committed by these arms manufacturers, students took to protesting the event. The protest was attended by 25 undergraduate and graduate students, residents of the surrounding Somerville area, and activists representing United Against War and Militarism (UAWM), Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), Extinction Rebellion, Socialist Revolution, and Boycott/Divest/Sanction (BDS) Boston.
Students, residents, and activists coalesced outside of the Joyce Cummings Center on the Tufts campus as the event began in Halligan Hall, the building adjacent to the protest. Speeches were given and a larger crowd began to form as more students passing by saw the signs and understood the message being conveyed by the protesters. Students chanted:
"Tufts and Raytheon sittin’ in a tree, sharing all their blood money," Along with, "we see through your smoke and mirrors, you can’t have our engineers."
Speeches pointed out the ideological relationship between universities and these defense contractors, in so far as the belief is that these companies work to defend our democracy. This belief – one that has underpinned much of the response by the Tufts administration to these protests – completely neglects to see the ways these arms producing thugs work on the offense to perpetuate wars, which they then shovel their arms into. Not to mention the question of what kind of "democracy" we live in, where our wealth and safety depends on plunder that companies such as Raytheon, as well as the government, commits. The ties between Raytheon, the arming of the Saudis in the destruction of Yemen, the support of the continued attacks on Palestine by arming Israel, and surveillance and murder of migrants across the US-Mexico border, were all highlighted by students who spoke during the protest. Before concluding, the protest moved to the window of the conference hall where the Raytheon event was held. The song "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan was played on a loudspeaker and sung by the protesters, followed by a series of other chants. The noise made was sufficient enough to force the event out of their room.
It’s no surprise that the university would invite these corporations to promote their "good business environment" and "diverse staff" to students: many US universities and these weapons manufacturers, such as Raytheon, have a disturbing symbiotic relationship. Universities funnel students into the ranks of these major weapons producing corporations, helping to staff them with engineers to makes their weapons of destruction. Meanwhile, universities get their share from donations and other payments they receive from alumni working for these corporations and from the corporations themselves. Raytheon specifically has quite a unique relationship with our university here at Tufts. It was founded by Vannevar Bush, a Tufts alum, whose war profiteering legacy has been glorified by the university. The most glaring example of this adoration being the dormitory, Bush Hall, in his name.
Although there is not much publicly available information about the financial relationship between Tufts and Raytheon, the support for Raytheon is made loud and clear by Tufts giving tribute to its founder and the regular Raytheon recruitment events held on campus. These events have happen annually, but not without opposition. For example, students have protested Raytheon’s presence on campus in 2019, 2020, 2021, and now 2022. Students have been outraged at the university’s attempt to promote these arms corporations to despite their perpetuation of atrocities abroad, such as the war in Yemen. In light of these facts, us Tufts students came together to carry the baton of student opposition to these defense contractors and their university partnerships. We hope through more serious organizing and protests such as these that we can continue to put pressure on the university, expose General Dynamics, Raytheon, and the rest for what they are, and relatedly how our universities are complicit in the crimes of these arms manufacturers.
Maya Morris is a senior at Tufts University and a member of United Against War and Militarism.