Career Fair participants unwelcome
Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, September 9, 2008
As concerned students, we write with regard to the upcoming Fall Career Expo, an event organized and endorsed by the University. We are distressed to find that both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Raytheon Company will be seeking to recruit on our campus at this year’s event. Despite the efforts of students in the past three consecutive years, the University has yet to respond to the critique that these two groups – both the CIA and Raytheon – represent a clear and very serious disregard for the stated mission to our University.
The mission statement of the University of Notre Dame specifically calls our community to develop a “disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.” Such a mission hopes to make our University a place where “learning becomes service to justice.” These admirable goals are put into practice in many ways. For example, many faculty members engage the issues of race, poverty, conflict and injustice in their research. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the student body will be involved in some sort of service or community work in their time at Notre Dame.
But when students begin to think about how they can take their interest for social justice and service that they learned here at Notre Dame, they are presented with a contradictory picture at the Career Expo. Organizations like the CIA and Raytheon serve a narrow conviction that place national self-interest and violent military power above the calling – found in our own mission statement – of “human solidarity and concern for the common good.” They inherently contradict what we, as a university community, have placed as our true mission.
Currently Raytheon is the world’s fifth largest weapons manufacturer. In 2007 the company’s revenue hovered around $20 billion after seeing an annual increase of a nine percent. Of Raytheon’s contracts, 90 percent come from defense contracts while the company also does extensive business under guarded subsidiaries. The most celebrated of Raytheon’s products is the 5,000-pound “bunker buster” bomb, a weapon most recently used against the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. As profits for Raytheon soar, the people who live where Raytheon’s products finally land see only death, destruction and a broken future.
The arms trade is an undeniably profitable business for Raytheon. But in August of 2006, to protest Raytheon’s involvement in providing the cluster bombs and missiles used in the campaign against the people of Lebanon, nine men from Derry, Northern Ireland occupied a Raytheon office and were detained for trespassing. On June 11, a jury released the entire group in a unanimous verdict. Eamonn McCann, one of the men detained, stated: “We believe that one day the world will look back on the arms trade as we look back today on the slave trade, and wonder how it came about that such evil could abound in respectable society.”
The Central Intelligence Agency, an organization historically known for exporting violent repression and terror everywhere from Chile to Iran to Laos, continues to subvert human rights in the current War on Terror. Using enhanced interrogation tactics (such as the now controversial water-boarding tactic) the CIA has unleashed a campaign of violence against any and all those it suspects of terrorism and seeks to re-define the Geneva Convention. Black sites – secret prisons away from media and human rights scrutiny – have popped up in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, most recently allegations point to a site in Poland. Now more than 200 CIA flights have passed through Great Britain in the CIA’s program of secret rendition, a new name for the agency’s age-old tactic of “forced disappearances.” A report released by leading human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, charges the CIA with the disappearance of thirty-nine individuals.
This year represents the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948 and stated directly, in Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Secret prisons, forced disappearances and torture are the methods of the CIA. However, they are not the way of our University.
We hope to work with the Career Center and the University Administration to examine more closely who we allow onto our campus to recruit our students. We ask that each company and organization, regardless of their national reputation or alumni connection, be judged for their respect and adherence to our University’s mission statement. We hope that our University can provide an opportunity where there is no contradiction between our convictions and our future employment. We, as concerned students in troubling times, call on the Administration and the Career Center to make a statement and clearly define the moral position of our University on this issue.
In hope for a more peaceful future,