Reject the war industry at UConn

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A military helicopter. UConn students recently woke up to a military helicopter parked between Austin and Beach Hall. Photo by Danilo Arenas/Pexels

On Thursday, Sept. 7, University of Connecticut students awoke to a military helicopter parked in their front yards, perched on Founders Green between Austin and Beach Hall. Its presence was a part of a university-hosted event for the U.S. National Guard — an event not publicly advertised by the university. 

Aside from the jarring nature of seeing a military helicopter a few hundred feet from one’s dorm, this is one of the many instances the university has hosted a gathering or fair in direct connection to privatized military-industrial manufacturing companies.  

Thursday, U.S. military recruiters parked and tabled on the seal in front of Homer Babbidge library. In just a few weeks, the university will celebrate “Lockheed Martin Day,” commemorating the company’s partnership with the university. Further, UConn also holds partnerships with Raytheon and Sikorsky, the former recently pledging $1.47 million to faculty members at the School of Engineering, with additional funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 

The university has made no attempt to hide its deeply seeded connection to the military-industrial complex, from hosting events to receiving financial support – including for the upcoming Raytheon-sponsored career fair. The Daily Campus Editorial Board vehemently opposes the university’s deep connections to the U.S. military, which has historically been responsible for more interventions, death and social instability globally than any other organization. Given their contributions to numerous active threats to international human rights, including the Russia-Ukrainian war, Palestinian apartheid and potential U.S-China nuclear conflict, UConn’s allegiance with this military is unacceptable for collective peace and wellbeing. 

Such ties are antithetical to other university-affiliated programs and institutes, such as the Dodd Center for Human Rights, commemorated by a visit from President Joe Biden last fall. The so-called “Dodd Impact” boasted by the university is directly opposed by its continual support — and profit — from war and violence, diminishing the actions of students and faculty within the Human Rights Institute. Until the university severs its ties to military industrial corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Sikorsky, it has no right to claim any contribution to international human rights.  

Additionally, the university may claim no part in any solution to the climate crisis. With constant mentions of UConn’s “Platinum and Green University” status — awarded to colleges and universities with rigorous and ongoing sustainability measures — the glaring irony in these statements must be addressed. The U.S. military, outfitted with weapons of war created by UConn’s partners in the military-industrial complex, is one of the largest carbon-emitting and polluting entities in the world — if it were ranked alongside the nations of the world, it would come in at No. 47 in carbon emissions. Does this connection not intrinsically undermine any of UConn’s stated commitments to combating the climate crisis? As The Editorial Board has discussed previously, UConn’s commitment to our planet is a facade at most.  

In maintaining such connections to industrialized violence, UConn has also forced an ethical dilemma onto the student body. Aside from the entirety of the student community supporting the university through tuition and other fees, students in closer proximity to manufacturing and STEM-based research — such as students in the School of Engineering (SOE) — are left deciding between potential high-paying opportunities contributing directly to war and humane work connected to far less supporting resources — an option often associated with lesser financial compensation than the former.  

Such hypocrisy is exacerbated when the university requires students in the SOE to take courses such as “Philosophy and Social Ethics.” A graduation requirement for all engineering students, the teachings of courses such as these are no more than a moral diversion from the truth of the university’s stance on war and violence. UConn has made it clear that whatever students take away from these courses must remain inside of the classroom, as SOE students are later met with research, internship and job opportunities working directly for the U.S. military.  

It must be noted that the university has methodically planned its dependence on military contracting in accordance with revenue and accolade maximization. While divestment from the military-industrial complex would decrease funding and opportunities allotted to the student body, these resources are worthless and immoral if they are grounded in war and violence rather than the outcomes UConn claims to promote, such as the benefit of university students and partners to the broader society. 

The student community cannot passively accept this parasitic relationship with the war industry if we wish to create a peaceful and livable planet — or at least pass something resembling that to future generations. There is an ever increasing apparent need at UConn for a drastic cultural shift, one that dares us to imagine a future in which our ties to industries of harm are replaced with networks of healing. At the top of our priorities should be connecting students with opportunities to build renewable energy infrastructure, expansive and accessible public transportation, and schools and hospitals in under-serviced towns and cities. Our future is not, and should not be, constrained by the military-industrial complex.

1 COMMENT

  1. You all do know, don’t you, that the U.S. military doesn’t do a thing without it being ordered by our political leaders. You know, like the all-time drone-shot king, Nobel Peace prize winner Barack Obama.

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