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Why is Notre Dame involved in the arms trade?

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, February 1, 2009

Last semester, we delivered a letter to Father John Jenkins and the representatives of the Career Center asking them to clarify our University’s position on what companies we allow on our campus to recruit our students. More than a month later, Fr. Jenkins took the step to meet with us to discuss our concerns. In his office, he listened to us and asked us fair questions. Overall, while we may not have reached the same conclusions about who should or should not be endorsed by the University, Fr. Jenkins left us with an understanding that his administration would take the issue seriously.At last week’s Winter Career Expo, Raytheon again sought to recruit Notre Dame students. We are distressed to find that, as of yet, no action has been taken by either our University’s administration or the Career Center to clarify explicitly and publicly the standards to which we hold participants in the career fairs. Despite the efforts of students in the past three consecutive years, the University has yet to publicly and decisively respond to the critique that Raytheon represents 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, 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. Our commitment to justice is real at Notre Dame because it is rooted in our mission.But when students begin to think about where they can take their interest for justice and service that they learned here at Notre Dame, they are too often presented with a contradictory picture. Organizations like 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 2008, Raytheon’s value boasted to $24.7 billion after an annual increase of almost $5 billion. As MSNBC Business wrote recently: “Like other defense companies, Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon’s profits have been boosted in recent years by record defense spending.” That is, as the United States and its allies drop more bombs on places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza, Raytheon’s profits climb steadily. For Raytheon, the more war and insecurity the better. 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 Aug. 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, 2008 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.”We call on 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 call on the Administration and the Career Center to make an honest, public statement and clearly define the position of our University on the presence of Raytheon at our University.

Michael Angulosenioroff campusKristi HassjuniorabroadAlicia Quirosjunioroff campusFeb. 1