UTD profits off of war, destruction, and death. Here’s how.

Our university, like all American universities, has an endowment fund which is a pool of money that it collects from donations. These donations are critical to an institution’s ability to make profits, which it needs to be able to invest in academic research, university infrastructure, and student life. In order for universities to make the most out of their endowment funds, they invest their money and assets into the stock market to make a profit. 

Every year our university, alongside the other UT and A&M institutions connected through the University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Company (UTIMCO), invests their collective endowment funds in hundreds of corporations with the stated goal of creating “the world’s leading endowment fund, making a lasting positive impact on the future of Texas and beyond.” Yet contrary to this goal, these institutions are pouring tens of millions of dollars into the world’s largest weapons manufacturing and arms production companies in the world, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. As of August 2020, UTIMCO had about $52.5 million worth of weapons, weapon systems manufacturers’ debt, and equity securities. Investments into these corporations that are responsible for fueling war, military occupation, and human rights violations are a stain on the legacy of our institutions and leave a lasting negative impact on the world. 

The average student at UTD has probably heard very little, if any, information regarding our university’s investment activities — but for individuals whose families live in parts of the world impacted by the violence facilitated by these corporations, ignorance is not an option. From Palestinian to Kashmiri to Yemeni students and beyond, our university is profiting off of the subjugation of their families and communities overseas. It is for this reason that the Students for Justice in Palestine, alongside the Young Democratic Socialists of America, are leading a divestment campaign demanding that UTD removes our endowment funds from corporations that kill people, not just in a metaphorical sense but in a real and literal sense. 

This anti-militarism divestment campaign has a clear message to our university and to UTIMCO: divest our endowment funds from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gruman, General Dynamics, and Boeing now. Why these five companies? Because they are the largest weapons manufacturing and arms producing companies in the world. Almost every war in recent decades has been fueled by their products. Here’s just a handful of their crimes: 

Currently, UTIMCO has a total of 22,911 shares, or $9,549,551, invested into Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense company and contractors in the world. From 1999 to September 2021, Lockheed Martin has spent $493.6 million on lobbying efforts to influence U.S. policies, including lobbying for tax breaks, increasing the defense budget, promoting army missile defense, and more. Since its inception, Lockheed Martin has played a facilitating role in many gruesome wars around the world. During the 2006 Lebanon War, when Israel conducted a ground and aerial bombardment of Lebanon that severely devastated infrastructure such as villages, bridges, and seaports and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, many of the weapons — like their Apache helicopters — were supplied by Lockheed Martin. That war resulted in the deaths of 1,183 people, a third of them children. Again in 2009, 2014, and 2018, we witnessed Lockheed Martin supply the apartheid state of Israel with products ranging from weapons systems to F-16 warplanes and much more, aiding their military forces in killing well over 3,500 people in total. 

The next company on our list is Raytheon. Raytheon has $64.4 billion in revenue as of 2022, 96% of which is derived from its defense sector. Raytheon is the world’s second-largest military company, which manufactures missiles, bombs, components for fighter jets, and other weapon systems used by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians. Raytheon has supplied the Israeli government with a diverse array of weapons, missiles, bombs, fighter jets, military drones, and warships, often gifted to Israel through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Financing program. The weapons are used indiscriminately against Palestinian civilians, resulting in casualties and the destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, water, and electric systems. The illegal naval blockade of the Gaza strip is administered through the Israeli Navy’s 4.5 Sa’ar missile ships, which utilize Raytheon’s Phalanx weapon system. In addition to human rights violations in Palestine, Raytheon has developed directed energy weapons that emit radiation for the U.S. Department of Defense for use in Afghanistan and Iraq and has since marketed to prison, police, and security authorities. Raytheon is a major supplier of arms to the Saudi-led coalition engaged in a war against Yemen, which indiscriminately targets civilians.

Boeing is the third company UTD pours funds into. Boeing primarily produces aircrafts, and it is the weapons manufacturing company with the second largest defense revenue in the world. It manufactures approximately half of all commercial and defense aircraft fleets worldwide, bringing in $93.4 billion in revenue in 2017. That same year, revenues from the United States Department of Defense and U.S. government contracts made up 31% of Boeing’s total revenues, with contracts to customers outside of the U.S. and foreign military sales making up 55% of company revenues. Boeing has developed and produced the Arrow 3 missile in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industries, and it has marketed the Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) military drones to the United States. Israel has utilized missiles, explosives, and F-16 aircraft supplied by Boeing to attack Palestinian civilians and infrastructure. Additionally, the Israeli navy’s Sa’ar missile ships are equipped with Boeing’s Harpoon missile system to enforce the illegal naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Boeing’s war crimes are not limited to Palestine. Saudi Arabia’s destructive war in Yemen has been armed by Boeing. The Hindu nationalist Indian state utilizes Apache and Chinook helicopters in its settler colonial project in Kashmir. Boeing products have been used for surveillance at the US-Mexico border. Scan eagles, manufactured by Boeing, have been used to assassinate activists in the Philippines. 

General Dynamics (GD) also designs, manufactures, and sells military weapons and equipment, such as armored fighting and robotic combat vehicles, tanks, artillery systems, aircraft guns, and cybersecurity systems. As of 2022, it is the world’s fifth-largest military company, producing $38.5 billion in annual revenue, 80% of which comes from its defense sector. GD provides the Israeli military with a wide variety of weapons, as well as integrating its technologies into Israel’s weapons systems, such as fighter jets and armored combat vehicles. The weapons manufactured by GD have been used by Israel to attack Palestinian civilians, destroy civilian homes, and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, water, and electric systems. GD also plays a part in immigrant biometric surveillance and monitoring of the U.S.-Mexico border, further militarizing the border.

Lastly, there is Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman is one of the world’s largest military companies and develops missile systems, manned aircraft, high energy laser systems, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, electronic warfare systems, and training and logistics support. In addition to the manufacturing of arms, Northrop Grumman specializes in creation of mass biometric surveillance, such as the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System (HART), which would have the ability to store information of more than 500 million individuals and support at least 720,000 new data entries daily. Northrop Grumman has already worked in the past as a contractor for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), manufacturing border security surveillance for over 40 ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border.

And believe it or not, these are just a handful of these companies’ crimes. 

Last year, on February 28, 2022, UTD President Richard Benson sent an email out to all students stating that UTD is an American institution of higher education that is “committed to democratic principles both at home and abroad,” and it will “hold in contempt those who would subjugate a free people through military force.” The hypocrisy and discrepancy between our university’s verbal statements and actions are as clear as day. We call on our university to do better. It is because it is against the backdrop of The University of Texas at Dallas’ moral commitment to social, political, and economic justice that we, as a coalition of students and student organizations, call on our university to divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from the aforementioned companies.  

This isn’t just a matter of international politics. When our university invests our endowment funds in companies that are facilitating the killing and oppression of people here and around the globe, it is intentionally and directly taking a political position against marginalized groups. Divestment is our vehicle to actively speak out and reject this stance. We understand the power of divestment from the valiant students who pushed their universities to divest from South African apartheid in the latter half of the twentieth century. Today, we draw inspiration from the many divestment initiatives on the rise all over the country. As we witness students from other institutions actively take a stand against their universities’ role in profiting off of war, death, and oppression, we feel empowered to mobilize our student body at UTD to do the same. 

To our student body, we call on you to not remain silent and complicit after being made aware of these destructive actions of our university, and we call on you to support our call to #DivestfromDeath. We call on the UTD Student Government, the elected body that supposedly exists to speak to administration on behalf of the student body and our interests, to adopt a resolution that asks for the following: 

  1. For UTD to divest its endowment funds (sell shares) from corporations complicit and directly facilitating war, occupation, policing, militarism, and death around the world. 
  2. For UTD/UTIMCO to adopt a transparent investment policy. 
  3. For UTD/UTIMCO to develop a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) criteria that guides our university in making ethical and morally responsible investments.

So long as our university supports the killing of our families and communities abroad, we will remain unwavering in our commitment to hold it responsible and to demand that it does better.