Photo courtesy of Flickr / Davis & Elkins College

YDSA Statement Calls for Cancellation of BC Chief Executive Club Speaker

Young Democratic Socialists of Boston College (YDSA) issued a statement on Tuesday calling on the BC Chief Executives Club to cancel a scheduled event featuring General Dynamics' Chairman and CEO Phebe N. Novakovic as the keynote speaker.

The student organization objected to Novakovic on the grounds that her company's business activities, such as the sale of weapons used in attacks against civilians in the Middle East, are contrary to BC's professed commitment to Jesuit and Catholic values.

Additionally, the statement demanded the removal of Raytheon CEO Thomas A. Kennedy from the BC Chief Executives Club Board of Governors, similarly for his company's role in manufacturing weapons used against civilians.

The BC Chief Executives Club hosts several business forums each year, providing "a unique setting for candid conversation, networking, and connecting with the city’s most influential voices," according to their website page. Novakovic is scheduled to be the keynote speaker in the Chief Executives Club's upcoming forum on June 11.

YDSA expressed objection to a number of the company's business activities, citing The American Friends Service Committee's summary, which recommends divestment from General Dynamics.

The corporation has been identified for its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through weapon sales to Israel's military and subsequent use of their technology in multiple attacks against Palestinian civilians.

In addition, General Dynamics is contracted with the federal government to provide services related to child migrant detention, surveillance of immigrant communities, and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Human Rights Watch also reported that weapons manufactured and sold by Raytheon were used in unlawful airstrikes that killed hundreds of Yemeni civilians in 2015 and 2016.

According to YDSA, the business activities of General Dynamics and Raytheon implicate the companies in human rights abuses such as the detention of migrant children and attacks that killed civilians in Gaza, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

"Boston College can no longer continue the charade of claiming to uphold Jesuit Catholic Values while associating with corporate executives who are responsible for untold death and human suffering," said the YDSA statement.

In their statement, YDSA quoted Pope Francis, who in 2015 urged the U.S. Congress "to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."

The pope has spoken multiple times against governments and corporations for supplying the weapons used in attacks against civilians, a practice he has termed an "industry of death," driven by greed.

At the time of publishing, BC Chief Executives Board had not responded to The Gavel's request for comment.

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