In the previous issue, Kevin Young criticized Wesleyan’s decision to invest in two U.S. Defense Department contractors, Raytheon and General Dynamics. Supposedly, he wrote on behalf of the student group, Students for Ending the War in Iraq (SEWI). While I do not know whether or not everyone in that group shares Young’s view, I sincerely hope that this is not the case.

This is a topic on which I have very strong feelings. My father was in the U.S. Navy for 27 years, and he is currently an employee of a U.S. Defense Department contractor—the same company that I have worked for during breaks from school over the past few years. This particular company manufactures non-military parts too, but it is a military contractor nonetheless. Still, like members of SEWI, I want the war in Iraq to end as soon as possible, although I do not believe that immediately pulling out American troops is the answer. I do not know what the answer is, but it is not divesting from military contractors either, because there is a difference between supporting the war in Iraq and supporting our military and our troops.

Young claims that “Wesleyan’s behind-closed-doors decision to invest in weapons contractors implicitly associates each and every one of us with the continued occupation of Iraq, thrusting our money and our symbolic support behind the war.” I disagree. Investing in these military contractors is not an endorsement of the war, and Wesleyan should not divest from Raytheon and General Dynamics simply because these companies are thriving due to our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wesleyan certainly should not divest from these companies because some students are complaining that this is not “socially responsible investing.” By whose definition is this not socially responsible?

Young asserts that “investing in companies that make deadly weapons for use in wars of aggression clearly does not constitute socially responsible investing.” I remind him that, while these companies are making weapons for the war in Iraq, that is not their lone goal. Their goal is defense—of the United States. These companies are benefiting financially from the war, but they did not vote to go to war four years ago. Congress did—both liberals and conservatives. I feel that Wesleyan is acting extremely socially responsible in this situation, and I applaud Tom Kannam and anyone else involved in investment decisions. I do not applaud them because investing in these companies is profitable. I applaud them because it is socially responsiblie, and it shows support of the U.S. Military, and thus the United States.

Instead of making “a powerful symbolic statement about Wesleyan’s commitment to education rather than killing in warfare,” divestment from military contractors would make a powerful symbolic statement about Wesleyan’s lack of commitment to the U.S. Military and the defense of the United States. Quite the opposite of Young, I urge alumni who feel that Wesleyan’s investment in military contractors is socially responsible to withhold all financial contributions to the University if a decision is made in the near future to divest from these companies.

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