Activists, students protest Raytheon at NU career fair


Kelly Chan

Students and members of peace or anti-war groups in Boston protested outside of Cabot Center in response to Raytheon’s appearance at Northeastern’s Spring Career Fair.

Kelly Chan, news staff

Students and members of peace or anti-war groups in Boston protested outside of Cabot Center last Friday in response to Raytheon’s appearance at Northeastern’s Spring Career Fair.

The protest was hosted by Massachusetts Peace Action, a group that addresses issues relating to militarism and other social injustices, and Northeastern’s Students for Justice of Palestine, or NUSJP, along with several other organizations. According to Brian Garvey, an organizer with Massachusetts Peace Action, their goal was to bring awareness to the crimes of Raytheon, a defense contractor company. These organizations criticize Raytheon for creating weapons of mass destruction and distributing them throughout the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.

“The primary goal is to inform students about the things that Raytheon is doing that they don’t advertise — the death and destruction that their products are causing all over the world,” Garvey said.

Raytheon’s headquarters is located in Waltham, and they have multiple facilities located throughout Massachusetts. Many Massachusetts residents and organizations feel passionate about this issue and urge students across Boston colleges to acknowledge Raytheon’s actions. 

“What we’re really out here today to do is to tell the truth,” Garvey said. “Because we believe that if students understand what a company like Raytheon is doing, what their work would contribute to if they were to work for that company, they would choose another path.” 

Raytheon did not respond to request for comment regarding this protest and issue.

Massachusetts Peace Action is a founding member of the Raytheon anti-war campaign, which officially began in September 2018. This protest is among the many hosted at other colleges in the Boston area, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A similar protest was held at NU’s career fair last year as well. 

Together, these protests aim to emphasize that students, especially engineers, should dedicate their work to a cause that has a greater benefit to society.

“There are so many other social issues beyond public transit, beyond climate change that we need to deal with,” said Ryan Costello, who is a part of United Against War and Militarism, another official member of the campaign. “And yet Northeastern is welcoming these weapons companies — they don’t make anything socially useful.”

Susan McLucas, a member of Massachusetts Peace Action in attendance, added onto this idea. “We say, ‘Why we get an education is not for global domination,’” she said.

Protesters also stressed Raytheon’s supposed whitewashing campaigns and attempts to divert attention away from their role in Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries. For example, according to Garvey, their bombs and technology has also contributed to the cholera epidemic and starvation in the region.

“They sponsor the Walk for Hunger, which we find extremely hypocritical,” said Chris Panzica, another protester and member of the Massachusetts Peace Action, “because at the same time, they’re sponsoring famine.”

While this protest is annual, the organizers have also created a petition this year, in a new approach to generate a response from Northeastern University. The petition, which was advertised to students during the protest, aims to meet with President Joseph E. Aoun to request that they cut ties with Raytheon. It has yet to be determined when the petition will be sent to Aoun.

“[Northeastern is] clearly complicit — we have an amphitheater named after Raytheon at Northeastern,” said Danny Bettio, a fourth-year anthropology major and social chair of NUSJP. “It’s clear that this school and Raytheon have a certain relationship that I really disagree with.”

In a Feb. 18 email to The News, university spokesperson Renata Nyul wrote, “Raytheon is one of the world’s most innovative companies at the forefront of technological breakthroughs in defense and security. An outstanding partner of Northeastern on joint research projects, Raytheon has also given opportunities to our talented students and launched the careers of many of our graduates. We look forward to doing great things together with Raytheon for many more years to come.”

During the protest, Garvey also connected the protest and its significance to the meaning of Valentine’s Day. 

“Valentine’s Day, as well all know, is a celebration of love, and I thought of something that [philosopher] Cornel West said last week. He said that love expresses itself in private as tenderness, but love expresses itself in public as justice,” he said. “The people of Yemen need justice right now.”