From 2012 to 2015, Harvey Mudd ranked No. 1 in the country for return on investment, according to Payscale’s College ROI Report. Mudd graduates have a reputation for being highly paid and highly sought after by companies, but the debate on campus has recently raised concerns regarding Mudd’s relationship with one type of company that draws many graduates each year: defense contractors and national labs. Clinic Projects have been offered with companies like Northrop Grumman and MIT Lincoln Laboratory for several years, and organizations such as the Defense Intelligence Agency and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard have also been recruiting at Mudd’s career fairs. While some students apply for internships at and work on Clinic Projects for these government-funded groups, other students, especially this semester, are complaining about the implication of Mudd students working with these organizations. Specifically, many students are claiming that the college is failing to satisfy its mission statement. “I think that when choosing Clinic Projects and internships, we must consider the mission statement, which proposes that we hold ‘a clear understanding of the impact of [our] work on society’,” commented physics major Andrew Bishop (’18), “So, while I would not work on any military project, I would not prevent a fellow Mudder from pursuing that project if they have thoroughly considered its impact. I don’t think the current curriculum or Mudd culture prepares us or encourages us to make these analyses.”
Because of the increased concern on campus regarding this issue, some students have decided to take action to voice these complaints to the administration. One student in particular, who has asked not to be named, has been meeting with the clinic directors and President Klawe to discuss the issue and try to eliminate Mudd’s ties with all defense companies. “However,” the student said, “I currently realize that that is a hard position to push forward with the administration, so I am currently talking to clinic directors to push smaller baby steps: getting more student involvement in choosing Clinic companies and adding more non-profit and socially aware companies.” For other students, taking action means refusing to work on certain Clinic Projects or leaving the Project they were placed on because of the government funding those Projects receive.
Though many students feel strongly about limiting defense contractors’ interactions with Mudd, others feel satisfied with the current relationship the college has with such companies. “I think the relationship should be similar to other organizations’ relationships with Mudd because while I don’t personally don’t want to work with defense contractors, I know there are students that do and the school shouldn’t limit their opportunities,” said engineering major Marissa Lee (’18). Despite the wide spectrum of student opinions, the issue has sparked debate across campus and been raised with the college’s administration, so perhaps the results will be seen in upcoming career fairs and the 2017-18 Clinic Program.