UC Santa Barbara must divest from companies profiting off the violence in Gaza and cease being a proponent of war.
The primary mission of UCSB is to uphold pillars of accountability and integrity in providing a space for all students to receive higher education. Multiple defense weapon manufacturers investing in UCSB undermine these very pillars that are core to the university.
The Nexus is publishing this editorial in light of campus response to the escalating violence and deaths in the Gaza Strip following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by militant group Hamas.
UCSB cumulatively received investments of over $3 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year alone from various defense companies that are actively supplying U.S. machinery to the state of Israel. These investments bear career pipeline programs for UCSB engineering students, research contributing to the advancement of defense technology and an overall partnership that renders UCSB complicit in its contribution to the deaths in Gaza.
This editorial is a reflection of editors and reporters who have covered the issue of divestment at UCSB since 2021 and aim to deliver unbiased information to the public through news coverage. With our experience in reporting and holistic perspective on the history of divestment at UCSB, the university’s fiscal partnerships with defense companies and the enduring impacts to the current student populace, we can no longer be silent.
The Nexus recognizes that to publish this editorial is to take a stance on university divestment — a contentious issue at UCSB, the only UC where Associated Students has not passed a divestment resolution. We want to emphasize that editorials are separate from news coverage; the Nexus has previously published editorials on issues we have concurrently covered, and will continue to provide unbiased coverage.
In focusing on Palestinian students, the Nexus is not negating the existence of antisemitism at UCSB and across the UC system, but specifically highlighting how Palestinian students are marginalized by UCSB’s ties with these weapons manufacturers.
Divestment has been a contentious topic on all UC campuses for over a decade, but especially at UCSB. UC San Diego passed its resolution in 2013, UC Riverside in 2014, UC Berkeley in 2015, UC Davis in 2015, UCLA in 2021, UC Irvine in 2021 and UC Merced in 2023.
Resolutions in student government are positional, meaning they suggest an action for an entity to take but do not have any actual power to enact what has been voted on.
UCSB’s Associated Students (A.S.) Senate has been presented with a resolution to divest in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021, and each time — save for 2018, which did not see a vote — did not pass the resolution after hours of discussion. This failure to reach a consensus juxtaposed with the other UC student governments’ decisions is reflective of the campus climate UCSB has fostered regarding the issue of divestment.
UCSB’s A.S. Senate recently passed a resolution condemning the militant group Hamas. The resolution saw dissent from members of the student body and student groups who were not included in discussions around the bill’s formation. The groups rallied outside Corwin Pavilion until police were called on the crowd. The Nexus was unable to verify the caller and reason, but the weaponization of law enforcement against pro-Palestinian protestors is reflective of the current escalation in campus climate.
The original and edited versions of the resolution wholly condemn the violence of Hamas but do not make any mention of the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) violence in the Gaza Strip. There are six points directing the condemnation of Hamas and one point that mentions the loss of life in Gaza.
“… The Associated Students hereby: mourn all civilian loss of life in Israel and Gaza as a result of the ensuing war,” the one point read.
A.S. Senators were elected to represent the student populace and produce policy that is reflective of the needs and concerns of all UCSB students. By not mentioning the IDF’s killing of over 14,000 Palestinian civilians and not wholly acknowledging its commitment of violence in Gaza, this resolution does not adequately accommodate the needs and concerns of its Palestinian students and allies, who are also their constituents.
We emphasize that this editorial is not directing the A.S. Senate in how to address a divestment resolution. However, the aforementioned hostility and conflict between UCSB students and their elected officials is a manifestation of the continued marginalization of Palestinian voices, facilitated by companies actively contributing to the crisis in the Gaza Strip investing in UCSB.
This violence has escalated to an unprecedented level, with civilians being killed at a “historic” pace according to the New York Times, and hundreds of thousands of buildings reduced to rubble.
14,854 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the current crisis in Gaza as of Nov. 24, and 1,200 Israeli civilians have been killed, primarily during the Oct. 7 attack.
For UCSB to continue having ties with weapons manufacturers is to sign off on these attacks, contradicting international calls for a ceasefire.
The ongoing crisis has created fissures in UCSB’s campus climate, exposing acts of aggression and violence toward those shedding light on an international injustice. This decade-long discussion on divestment has bred hostility among our student population, as addressed in a 2019 Nexus Letter from the Editor, and it has only escalated in the four years since.
Most recently, pro-Palestinian individuals on our campus have faced doxxing — from accounts such as @IsraelWarRoom on X (formerly Twitter) — harassment and silencing for speaking on their perspectives and experiences on the ongoing crisis. Jewish students have also voiced instances of antisemitic rhetoric during the Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 Senate meetings.
By continuing financial partnerships with the companies listed below and maintaining links with weapons manufacturers, UCSB is alienating Palestinian students and allies. This is reflective of an institution that has failed to provide a safe environment for all students.
In a Nov. 10 statement, UC President Michael V. Drake and all 10 UC Chancellors condemned campus-wide acts of bigotry and intolerance, stating that “free speech is not absolute and violations of policy or law will have consequences.” They go on to specify this restriction of free speech extends to the classroom.
“Our educators must continue to provide a supportive and welcoming environment for all students and avoid using classroom time for improper political indoctrination,” the statement read.
Beyond providing a safe environment, UCSB also has a responsibility to fulfill its educational promise by allowing the issue to be discussed in classroom spaces. To restrict this discussion is stifling the voices of experts on this history and topic, and the students who could engage in academic discussion. The Nexus reached out to several pro-Palestinian UCSB faculty who declined to provide statements.
Drake announced on Nov. 15 that the UC Office of the President will dedicate $3 million to providing emergency mental health resources system wide, $2 million to developing educational programs informing on the conflict and $2 million to training staff and faculty in areas such as academic freedom and diversity and inclusion. Additionally, there will be further emphasis on campus safety and the creation of a Systemwide Office of Civil Rights to guide and navigate civil rights violations on campus.
These efforts were made only after an immense amount of pressure. If this institution truly cared about cultivating an environment for open, unbiased discussion and freedom of expression for staff, faculty and students, then it would cease receiving these investments entirely.
UCSB’s responses to this international conflict and its repercussions on campus have been minimal. The only direct reference made to the issue is in an Oct. 10 email statement to the campus community from Chancellor Henry T. Yang and Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall condemning the “violent attacks on Israel and escalating devastation in the region.” No direct mention of Gaza has been made thereafter, although students have been helpfully reminded of the mental health resources that are available on campus.
UCSB’s Donor Portfolio
The following non-exhaustive list of corporations are listed in UCSB’s annual reports under the aforementioned categories since 2010: Lockheed Martin, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon and Caterpillar Inc. All of these companies have delved into defense contract work and development and have been subject to UC-wide controversy regarding its involvement with the Israeli government and defense, notably its involvement in the siege of Palestine.
The U.S. government provides grants for the global acquisition of U.S. defense equipment, services and training through its Foreign Military Financing program, supplying developing democracies like Israel defense technology from private corporations in the name of global allyship. The companies listed in this editorial have ties to Israeli defense and have significant financial ties to UCSB as a university.
UCSB compiles an annual report on private philanthropy for the university, listing foundations, organizations, trusts and corporations that totals to “over 10% of student experience” in private funds.
The major titles given are the Lancaster Society — for those who have contributed $100,000 or more — Matching Gifts — for those who “matched gifts from alumni, parents and friends” — Gold Circle — for those who have contributed over $1 million — and Foundations, Associations, Trusts, Organizations and Corporate Contributors of $10,000 or more. All of the companies have stakes in UCSB as an institution and are given benefits in collaboration with the university like establishing career programs, campus career development events, research and more.
Raytheon is a defense contractor company that develops defense equipment and sensor technology for allied companies and nations globally. The company has significant ties to UCSB’s Engineering Sciences department, a partnership with the UCSB Technical Staff and Facilities program and regularly has information sessions and attends career fairs for UCSB students.
Raytheon has publicly advertised its partnership with Israel and the Israel Defense Forces through its technological developments. The corporation developed 10 Iron Dome batteries to “protect the citizens and infrastructure of Israel, with each battery comprising three to four stationary launchers, 20 Tamir missiles and a battlefield radar,” according to its website.
The RTX subsidiary is explicitly in partnership with Israel’s Rafael to establish a new facility in Arkansas to “churn out Tamir and its US-variant SkyHunter missiles for the Iron Dome air defense system.”
Raytheon has donated the largest monetary contributions to UCSB, earning a line under the Lancaster Society, Gold Circle, Matching Gifts and Foundations, Associations, Trusts, Organizations and Corporate Contributors of $10,000 or more. This totals to more than $1.1 million donated to the university.
The company is listed as a part of the UCSB Engineering Sciences department’s corporate affiliate program partnership. Raytheon is also in a more than six-year-long partnership with the UCSB Technical Staff and Facilities program to develop infrared technology for missile and space surveillance. The company’s presence in information sessions, career fairs and more sets up a career pipeline for students to become employed by Raytheon upon graduation.
Raytheon’s ties to Israeli defense has sparked local and statewide controversy, with roughly 150 pro-Palestine allies demonstrating outside Raytheon’s Goleta headquarters to call for a ceasefire on Nov. 9.
Lockheed Martin — a leading security and aerospace company in the defense industry, boasting various military aircrafts, maritime technologies, cyber defense and other artificial intelligence systems — donated over $100,000 to UCSB for the 2022-23 fiscal year and has established career pipelines for UCSB students.
The company has seen a 10% increase in defense funds since the start of the siege of the Gaza Strip.
Lockheed Martin has a publicized partnership with the state of Israel through its “Lockheed Martin in Israel” program, “securing Israel’s national interests while strengthening it from within.”
In November 2014, Lockheed Martin created a new line of F-35 wings boxes that were inaugurated at the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI). Signing Industrial Participation agreements with additional Israeli defense companies, the agreement mandates the company and IAI to “manufacture over 800 pairs of wing skins over the course of 15 years, at a total financial volume of approximately $2.5 billion.”
“The collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Israeli industries is expected to exceed $4 billion,” the website read.
The F-35 jets were used in the Israeli strike on Gaza in 2021.
The company has also supplied the Israeli Air Force with fifth-generation fighter jets since September 2010. The initial agreement included 19 fighter jets, and an additional 31 aircrafts to complete the second F-35 squadron between November 2014 and October 2016.
“A total of 50 aircraft are projected to be delivered by 2024,” the website read.
Lockheed Martin’s explicit partnership with Israel has sparked historical and current controversy, with organized protests outside of its compound in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Nov. 10, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona students protesting the company’s involvement at career fairs and other statewide opposition to its involvement on the university level.
UCSB gets paid a significant donation from Lockheed Martin annually. The company has the Lancaster Society and Matching Gifts designations, listed for over $100,000 of monetary contributions in UCSB’s 2022-23 private philanthropy report, and has historical and current partnerships with the university.
One significant partnership established a Santa Barbara Focalplane for a “college-to-career pipeline” to develop infrared systems for various military equipment, some of which have direct sales in Israel — the F-22 Missile Launch Detector that was approved to sell to Israel by Donald Trump in 2020, the F-35 Lightning II Electro-Optical Targeting System that is in explicit partnership with Israel defense companies, among others.
The company also has regular information sessions and “tech talks” with the university, which provides direct job application opportunities to UCSB students — including currently open positions of Systems Integration test engineer/infrared testing intern and the Santa Barbara production site lead.
Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company with major investments in cyber defense, aeronautics and defense, among others, is a major investor at UCSB.
The company is in explicit partnership with the Israel Aerospace Industries to launch surveillance satellites and other space technology, including rare imaging and reconnaissance mission systems. Northrop Grumman has also worked in collaboration with Lockheed Martin to develop the F-35 Lightning II and supply this machinery to the state of Israel.
The ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip has boosted the defense stocks of Northrop Grumman, increasing its funding by 16% in early October.
The company has invested over $1.01 million into UCSB, earning a place under the Gold Circle, Foundations, Associations, Trusts, Organizations and Corporate Contributors of $10,000 and above and Matching Gifts.
Northrop Grumman has had an 11-year relationship with UCSB, making the university “definitely in the top tier of the schools with which we work,” according to a UCSB Engineering Sciences press release.
As a now charter member of the Corporate Affiliates Program, the partnership began between the company’s then Foundation Technologies divisions and UCSB’s Professor Umesh Misher on an Office of Naval Research contract in 1998, later expanding to three active UCSB research teams working alongside the corporation.
Caterpillar Inc. is a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, off-highway diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, boasting $59.4 billion in 2022 revenue. The company is a philanthropic donor t0 UCSB.
One machinery of public discourse is the Caterpillar Inc. D9 bulldozer, which the IDF cites as an engineering tool used to neutralize explosives in areas like the Jenin camp in the northern West Bank. The latest generation of bulldozers in the IDF service have 405-410 horsepower diesel engines and a drawbar pull of 71.6 metric tons.
The D9 “was heavily modified by the Israeli Defense Forces, Israeli Military Industries and Israel Aerospace Industries to increase the survivability of the bulldozer … thus making it suitable for military combat engineering use,” according to Army Recognition.
The company has sparked controversy in the past two decades for its equipment that has been gifted to the state of Israel through the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Financing program. The D9 bulldozer has faced allegations of demolishing homes in the Gaza Strip.
“Caterpillar has supplied the IDF with bulldozers used for home demolitions since 1967,” a statement by Center for Constitutional Rights said. “Caterpillar has sold D9 bulldozers to the IDF knowing they would be used to unlawfully demolish homes and endanger civilians in the OPT.”
These allegations took the company to court in the September 2007 case of Cynthia Corrie et al v. Caterpillar Inc. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case concerned a federal lawsuit “against Caterpillar Inc on behalf of the parents of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist who was run over and killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, and on behalf of the Palestinian relatives of other victims,” according to the International Crimes database.
The suit charged the company with aiding and abetting war crimes and human rights violations under the argument that Caterpillar Inc. provided the IDF with bulldozers while knowing the machinery would be used for home demolishment and endangering civilians in Palestinian territories.
The suit ended with the district court granting the motion to dismiss the case, citing that “selling products to a foreign government does not make the seller liable for subsequent human rights violations.”
Caterpillar Inc. is listed under Matching Gifts in the 2022-23 private philanthropy report, expressing its explicit ties with the university. The company is listed under “The ABC’s of UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering Recruitment” as “companies that hire UCSB Engineering students for internships and career positions.”
There are also multiple notable UCSB alumni like Eric Masanet, UCSB professor and Mellichamp Chair who was previously a design engineer at Caterpillar, and Mari Lou Balmer-Millar, General Manager in Large Power Systems at Caterpillar.
Hewlett Packard (HP) is an information technology company with various investments in energy efficiency and high-technology employment.
It is listed in UCSB’s private giving report of 2022-23 under Lancaster Society, Matching Gifts, Gold Circle and Foundations, Associations, Trusts, Organizations and Corporate Contributors of $10,000 or more. This cumulates to over $1.11 million of investments from the company to the university alone.
HP has historically come under fire for its involvement in Israel for running various facilities in Israel. Allegations against the company include developing an information technology system that collects biometric data of Palestinians over 16 years old and providing the Israeli navy with IT that enforces blockades of the Gaza Strip.
However, the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority announced the gradual phasing out and termination of the Aviv system that HP provided in 2021, which is a computerization system for the West Bank and Gaza.
The company has also published a statement denouncing its involvement with Israel.
“The misinformation about HP Inc. being circulated by some on social media is unfortunate and untrue,” a May 2021 statement from the HP press center read. “As a matter of policy, we do not take sides in political disputes between countries or regions.”
UCSB must divest
UCSB as a university has long-standing relationships with each of these described companies that have explicit or alleged involvements in the defense of Israel and have, in one way or another, contributed to the violence occurring in the Gaza Strip.
The university has gathered over $3.32 million cumulatively from these corporations — not including the gifts provided to the institution. These financial investments inhibit the institution from impartially maintaining a safe campus climate and providing support for all students on its campus.
The Oct. 10 email from Yang quickly denounced the violence of the Hamas attack of Oct. 7.
“We are writing today with deep care for our students, staff, and faculty … who are impacted by the violent attacks on Israel and escalating devastation in the region,” the email statement read.
Subsequent Oct. 18, Oct. 26 and Nov. 20 emails from Yang and Student Affairs did not directly acknowledge the violence occurring in the Gaza Strip and the death toll of Palestinian individuals.
“We reaffirm our principles of community, while acknowledging that we may have great differences of opinion, as well as differences in experiences,” the Oct. 26 email statement read.
The virtual words of sympathy to those impacted by the Hamas attacks were not repeated to those who lost family members in Gaza. The ongoing human rights violations and death tolls are whittled down to guidelines on addressing campus bias.
UCSB markets these companies particularly to engineering students as leading innovators of technology and intelligence, career opportunities and new research to tackle. But behind these companies’ glowing statistics of sales and revenue are their active, public involvements in funding Israeli defense.
The university must call these companies what they are: war machines, and cease their financial complicity in war.
The continuous funding from these companies into UCSB’s pockets of private philanthropy is a clear demonstration of the university’s role in this ongoing violence.
UCSB has taken a side in this war, and as an educational institution, it should not be a player. As long as it continues to pursue financial partnerships with war machines, UCSB is continuing to be complicit in the increasingly hostile campus climate.
Thus, we see no alternative but to call for divestment.