The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Disorientation 2023: Huskies come together to inform and advocate

Yaakov Aldrich
Students gather around a speaker outside of International Village. Eight student organizations worked together to plan the second annual Disorientation tour.

The 2023-24 school year is just beginning, but student action groups campaigning for the betterment of Northeastern University never stopped working. 

On Saturday, Sept. 9, members from eight student organizations gathered for the second annual Disorientation, a walking tour of campus intended to expose Northeastern’s associations with and contributions to immoral practices and social injustices. Topics included the university’s involvement with gentrification, climate change, the military-industrial complex and more. 

“Disorientation is a way for people to get acquainted with the issues while also seeing how and why you should try and be a part of an organization that can do something about it,” said Finn Seifert, a third-year human services major and co-president of NU SHARE

Disorientation, a play on Northeastern’s new student orientation, consists of a campus tour that highlights locations representative of Northeastern’s ties to social justice issues. At each stop, students share their grievances and inform attendees about ways to initiate change. 

“Student organizations and activist organizations are what make the campus better,” Seifert said. “Each club is trying to improve the university and trying to have students be more aware of the issues and improve the student body’s understanding.”

The student organizations that collaborated for the event included Young Democratic Socialists of America, or YDSA; Progressive Student Alliance, or PSA; Sunrise NU; Huskies Organizing with Labor, or HOWL; Divest NU; NU Sexual Health Advocacy, Resources and Education; Graduate Employees of Northeastern University and Mutual Aid. 

“The goal of disorientation is two-fold,” said Jonathan Bacdayan, a fourth-year environmental studies major and leader of Sunrise NU. “One is to get new students in — that’s why we are calling it Disorientation. It’s very much meant to complement the official welcome to the university by talking about the things the university doesn’t highlight about itself. The other part of it, in addition to getting new students in, is to foster communication between existing clubs and students who have been around for a while — oftentimes, there’s a tendency for groups to get very siloed.”

Taking charge of the event were leaders from the Sunrise Movement, a climate and political action group, and HOWL, a student coalition supporting Northeastern employees. HOWL’s current focus is helping Northeastern graduate students through the process of unionizing

The tour includes six stops, beginning in front of East Village and ending outside of Marino Recreation Center. 

Outside of International Village, Carmen Phillips-Alvarez, a third-year criminal justice and political science combined major and chair of YDSA, spoke about Northeastern’s high-priced meal plans.

One-in-four Northeastern students have reported feelings of food insecurity at some point during their time here and that is not okay,” Phillips-Alvarez said. “This is a condition created by the university. They can afford to not starve us, yet they are choosing to do so.”

YDSA has been focusing on the No Hungry Huskies movement for the past two years, which is an effort “to end hunger on campus utilizing Northeastern’s $240 million revenue surplus,” according to their website. The campaign argues that students in meal-plan-required housing should have access to three meals a day at no cost. 

A student activist speaks to a crowd outside of East Village during Disorientation. The tour included six stops around campus, starting at East Village and ending at Marino Recreation Center. (Yaakov Aldrich)

The unwillingness of the university to amend its practices and associations was a consistent theme throughout the tour.

Kyler Shinkle-Stolar, a fourth-year biology major and member of PSA, addressed students in front of the Egan Research Center, which houses the Raytheon Amphitheater.

“What we’ve been involved with more recently is Northeastern’s ties with Raytheon which is a weapons manufacturer and other companies that profit off of war,” Shinkle-Stolar said on behalf of PSA.

Raytheon Technologies is one of the largest United States defense contractors and sustains deep ties to the university. A Northeastern alumnus, Thomas Phillips, was the former CEO and president of Raytheon as well as a member of the university’s board of trustees from 1968 to 1984. His influence is credited with securing Northeastern as a feeder of alumni and co-op employees to Raytheon

In the 2021-22 school year, the university contributed $50,000 to Raytheon, according to recently filed financial disclosure documents

Shinkle-Stolar called the amphitheater “a good representation of how close Northeastern and Raytheon are.” 

“It’s not just that these companies make weapons, it’s that they sell these weapons to the U.S. military and countries abroad despite them being used to violate human rights and to kill human beings,” Shinkle-Stolar said.

Raytheon rose to prominence in the media in 2020, when the Trump administration reversed an earlier ruling that had limited the sale of weapons supplied by American companies to Middle East countries. This played a key role in amplifying the Saudi-led war in Yemen — and Raytheon products were at the forefront. 

“We at PSA want Northeastern to not just sit by and work with these companies and benefit from them while they are doing these terrible things,” Shinkle-Stolar said. “We should hold them accountable and part of that is the university not partnering with them.”

Although Disorientation is an event that is meant to highlight the immoral and unjust actions of the university, its organizers emphasized their desire to improve the university to benefit the student body. 

“It comes from a place of love and it comes from a place of wanting this university to be the best and most just place that it can,” Bacdayan said. “We want it to take care of its students in the way that we know it can.”

In recent years, advocacy groups have been seeing the results of their efforts. In September 2022, Northeastern dining workers of Chartwells Higher Education, the parent company that employs them, achieved a historic new contract that guaranteed improved pay and working conditions. In October 2022, NU SHARE installed a wellness vending machine inside Marino Recreation Center to supply sexual health products to promote sexual safety and pleasure within the local community.

As the 2023-24 school year begins, the fight for social justice and student causes is ramping up on campus. Disorientation is just the beginning for these student advocacy groups as they work toward promoting a more sustainable, inclusive and just community.

“At the end of the day this is our university,” said Mimi Yu, a third-year computer science and political research combined major, and member of HOWL and PSA. “We should be allowed to have a say in how it uses its money and influence.” 

About the Contributor
Lily Webber, Deputy Campus Editor
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