UMass Lowell is a public university located in Northeastern Massachusetts. UMass Lowell benefited financially from the expropriation of lands from this continent's indigenous nations, and the university presently provides institutional support to Israeli ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestine and to the US military and prison industrial complexes.
The University of Massachusetts system, of which UMass Boston is a part, amassed considerable wealth through a series of colonial land grabs that expropriated lands from this continent's indigenous nations. The wealth the UMass system amassed through these land grabs played a critical role sustaining the system financially in its earlier days. As researchers Robert Lee and Christian Ahtone report in High Country News:
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, which distributed public domain lands to raise funds for fledgling colleges across the nation. Now thriving, the institutions seldom ask who paid for their good fortune ... Behind that myth lies a massive wealth transfer masquerading as a donation. The Morrill Act worked by turning land expropriated from tribal nations into seed money for higher education. In all, the act redistributed nearly 11 million acres — an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined ... Our data shows how the Morrill Act turned Indigenous land into college endowments. It reveals two open secrets: First, according to the Morrill Act, all money made from land sales must be used in perpetuity, meaning those funds still remain on university ledgers to this day. And secondly, at least 12 states are still in possession of unsold Morrill acres as well as associated mineral rights, which continue to produce revenue for their designated institutions.
Commenting about their data on the state of Massachusetts, Robert Lee and Christian Ahtone note:
The state [of MA] split interest as 1/3 for MIT and 2/3 for University of Massachusetts. Both universities predated the Morrill Act but "the land-grant endowment put new life into both." UMass sold a block of 36,000 acres for $29,778.4 in 1864 to purchase a school site. The rest was sold over time until 1868. More specifically, 140,000 acres went between 1864 and 1866 for an avg. price of 81 cents. 220,000 acres were sold in 1867, some at 54 cents an acre, some at 58 cents per acre. All this, yielded another $205,509, which brought the total realized to $236,307.40.
In 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick provided a $30,000 grant for "a collaborative research effort between UMass Lowell's Nanomanufacturing Center of Excellence and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel." UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan has stated that "UMass Lowell has a deep and rewarding partnership with Shenkar College." UMass Lowell has promoted this partnership on its pages, calling its fruits "revolutionary," and stating that the research in nanotechnology carried out through the partnership has "potential applications" to "military sectors."
UMass Lowell offers a "dual master's degree in peace studies" in partnership with Haifa University. Director of UMass Lowell's Peace and Conflict Studies program Professor Paula Rayman has previously spoken about "Israeli Arab and Jewish Relations" (sic) at the United States Embassy in Israel. The dual master's degree program and Rayman's scholarship promote the false narrative that Palestinians and Jewish Israelis are two equally aggrieved parties who need to resolve their differences, whitewashing over the reality of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland, met by Palestinian struggle to remain on and reclaim their land and its resources.
In 2014, UMass Lowell announced it was initiating a partnership with weapons manufacturer Raytheon to offer degree programs in Kuwait. As the New York Times reported, this partnership "could allow UMass-Lowell to serve as many as 1,200 students in the next few years, requires the contractor, the Raytheon Company, to contribute $50 million to help cover the cost of the first seven years of operation." Raytheon is a Massachusetts-based weapons company with expansive complicity in the global violence perpetrated by the US military, as well as the violence perpetrated by US allies including Israel and Saudi Arabia (see entry on Raytheon for more information).
UMass Lowell also maintains a contract with the company Aramark, which is expected to run until 2030. Aramark is a major entity within the US prison-industrial complex, providing food as well as clothing services to prisons and jails, including jails that work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain Black and Brown migrants. As the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has documented, “Aramark is the largest provider of food services to U.S. prisons, having 38% of the market share.” AFSC has further reported that Aramark's food harms the incarcerated people who consume it, noting: “The company reduces quantities and has been repeatedly accused of severe health and safety violations, sanitation violations, unauthorized food substitutions, undercooked food, and food shortages." (See entry on Aramark for more information.) Similar to their abuses of US prison populations, the food Aramark provides for UMass Lowell students has been at times disgusting and unsanitary. In 2020, UMass Lowell students reported that the food they were being served wasn't edible, and an investigation found that the food contained “mold, worms, and purple-colored undercooked chicken." UMass Lowell students have shared pictures of “bugs in their pasta, black substances on their lettuce, and worms in their broccoli.” In spite of these grotesque practices at the university, Aramark features UMass Lowell on its website as a successful “case study.”