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Resist WashU protests Boeing recruitment event held on campus

| Editor-in-Chief

A Boeing recruitment event about sustainability was interrupted by members of Resist WashU, a group that has helped publicize pro-Palestine events on campus this month. At least three members of the group attended the event Tuesday evening in McDonnell Hall, where around two dozen other attendees were present. 

This came after the newly-formed coalition of WUSTL Students for Palestine published a letter on Oct. 20 demanding that the University cut ties with Boeing. 

Before entering the lecture room, Resist WashU members passed out pamphlets to attendees with the Boeing logo on the front with headings such as “Do you Sleep Soundly at Night?” and “Does Job Stability Bore You?” inside. 

The event began as planned, with two Boeing employees who are both Washington University alumni presenting about Boeing’s recent advances in sustainability. Jill Graftenreed, Boeing Director of Sustainable Operations and Reporting, talked about employee safety and well-being, aerospace safety, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Caitlind Walker, a Boeing engineer, spoke about the new, more efficient airplanes that she is helping Boeing design. 

“No matter what job you’re in at Boeing, you have a role to play in sustainability,” Walker said. 

The presentation lasted just over 30 minutes, after which the representatives opened the floor up  to Q&A. One of the Resist members, who declined to give their name, said, “Two weeks ago, Boeing sent a thousand bombs to Israel as Israel’s military was bombing schools and hospitals in Gaza. My question is, how does the mass murder of Palestinians square with [Boeing’s] sustainability acts?” 

One of the panelists responded that the Resist member’s statement about sending bombs to Israel was not true since Boeing is not allowed to sell to foreign governments. 

“Our customer is the U.S. government,” she said. “So if you are unhappy with how the U.S. government is using our products, I think that’s really fair to say. But I think your problem is with the U.S. government and their decisions.” 

Some news outlets, such as the Seattle Times, reported that there have been direct commercial transactions between Boeing and Israel.

Another person, who identified themselves as an undergraduate and University community member, asked, “Is there any guarantee that my work is not going to be used on a weapon that’s going to kill innocent people?” 

After determining that the person was not actually enrolled as an undergraduate at the University, Theresa Menk, Executive Director of Corporate Relations, asked them to leave. 

“It’s just disappointing that we can’t ask questions like this,” the person said before they left the room. 

Other attendees asked about sustainable fuel sources, fleet replacement, and global sustainability initiatives. The event lasted for just under an hour, and by its conclusion, multiple Washington University Police officers were stationed outside the lecture room in McDonnell Hall. 

Menk did not respond to multiple emails from Student Life with questions about how the event was planned or if the Office of Corporate Relations knew that Resist members would attend.  

Walker and Graftenreed asked that further questions about conflict in the Middle East be directed to the Boeing media teams, which could provide Boeing’s official stance on the matter. 

In an email to Student Life, Connor Greenwood, Boeing Media Relations Senior Specialist, provided a statement from Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun. 

“We were saddened to see the horrific attacks on Israel and the escalating conflict in the region that is resulting in a significant humanitarian emergency,” Calhoun said. “We will continue to monitor the situation, focus on the safety of our employees, and aid those in need.”

 

This article was updated to clarify additional news sources about Boeing-Israel sales, October 30. 

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