From occupier to occupied, here’s the mostly undiscussed crew of the Occupy movement (not pictured): the college students more interested in occupying Wall Street after graduation—with a job in finance, that is—and the recruiters who each year seek to woo them. A recent New York Times feature piece casts its gaze on the annual ritual of on-campus finance recruiting at top schools as it contends with the wrath of the Occupy movement. (Admittedly, maybe students on this campus are as likely to travel cross-country documenting the Occupy movement as they are to seek jobs on Wall Street after graduation. I know very few Wesleyan students openly seeking to go into finance, but that probably has as much to do with selection bias [and academic departments] as it does Wesleyan.)
At some schools, protestors have redirected their anger towards on-campus Wall Street recruitment efforts as well as the system that fuels it. Our neighbors in New Haven have experienced the tumult:
“I teach financial markets, and it’s a little like teaching R.O.T.C. during the Vietnam War,” said Robert J. Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale University. “You have this sense that something’s amiss.”
The new recruiting climate was on display at Yale in mid-November, when a group of Yale students turned a Morgan Stanley information session into a protest site. While their fellow students, clad in suits and clutching folders with résumés, filed into The Study at Yale, a local hotel, to learn more about the investment bank, a group of approximately 25 Yale undergraduates protested outside. They held signs and chanted slogans like “Take a stance, don’t go into finance” and “25 percent is too much talent spent” — a nod, protest organizers said, to the quarter of Yale graduates who typically take finance and management consulting jobs after graduation.
Mark Lake, a Morgan Stanley spokesman, said in a statement: “Morgan Stanley respects and supports everyone’s right to protest and express their opinions. The event was well attended and we plan to continue to provide opportunities for discussions like this with any interested students.”
On other campuses, firms are directly responding to the protests and sensing the ambivalence:
Goldman Sachs, which was hard hit by this year’s downturn, canceled its fall information session for undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania, traditionally one of its core recruiting schools. (The firm is still planning to hold a session for summer intern recruits in January.) At Harvard, only 17 percent of last year’s class planned to go into financial services after graduation, according to a survey of graduating seniors, compared with 25 percent in 2006, before the crisis.
That last statistic is telling, but it’s worth pointing out that last year’s class graduated and entered the job market before Occupy Wall Street. I’m sure there are finance-minded students at Wesleyan, even if I don’t encounter them everyday, and I’m sure they’re feeling the sting of the Occupy movement in a particularly unique way. Maybe they’re even reconsidering. My thoughts: if you’re planning on going into finance (perhaps only for a few years, as one Yale student mentions in the article), go for it. Frankly, Wesleyan could use the alumni donations. But be prepared to defend your decision, be prepared to inject some idealism or integrity into the finance path, and be prepared to engage with the Occupy dialogue. It’s clear that OWS could use some reasoned dissent on campus, and more than just the “HURR HURR RICH COLLEGE STUDENTS COMPLAINING” fare. As one anonymous commenter on the NYT story urges, “Pressure your schools to instill the ethics. You’re not going to make a whole industry disappear–that’s not the point anyway.”
More on the recent Wesuppy Wall Street front:
- Ben Doernberg ’13, whose real-time coverage has been featured on this here blog, gets major Wesleyan Connection cred for tracking last month’s police raid on Storify from the comfort of his Lo-Rise room and eventually landing a mention in Yahoo News and the Washington Post‘s “BlogPost” section. “This is definitely a result of social media, in my opinion, which helped everyone connect the dots to see the bigger picture,” Doernberg says. Here’s the story.
- Ian Desa, a Gandhi historian who’s teaching a sophomore seminar on Gandhi at Wes next semester, writes an op-ed for the New York Times and asks the vital question: WWGD? (“Gandhi would reject the division between the 99 percent and the 1 percent,” Desa writes. I’d let that be the pull-quote.)
- A friend, Wes ’13, who is abroad in Tanzania writes in about the fledgling Occupy Lushoto movement. “I am currently in a tiny town in the mountains in Northern Tanzania,” ze writes, “where we may or may not try to occupy a mountainside.” Go global. So it goes.
[New York Times]
[Occupy Wesleyan video courtesy of Reid Hildebrand ’14]