Embarrassing stunts reflect poorly on University
Last Wednesday, we too stood alongside Washington University students at the Olin Business School’s Meet the Firms event in the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center. However, unlike Rosemary Shanley and other members of Green Action, we, along with the vast majority of other students present, were there in hopes of networking and meeting representatives of various companies and striving to secure a job. Like most other students, we have endured the grueling recruitment process for internships and full-time jobs and know that every interaction is vital to landing a position in such a competitive environment.
The Meet the Firms event provides all students of this school with the opportunity to meet face-to-face with firms and their representatives who have traveled to Wash. U. from across the country. For many students, finding a job at these firms, particularly firms like Bank of America, is extremely difficult. A significant number of banks recruit the bulk of their college graduates from so-called “target schools,” of which Wash. U. is not currently included. As such, we found it appalling when the room’s atmosphere turned from pleasant to quiet to filled with yelling and coughing, the lattermost stemming from directly in front of the Bank of America booth. If embarrassment was Green Action’s goal, they certainly achieved it.
Regardless of one’s beliefs about the effects of coal, it would be difficult to argue that the stunts performed Wednesday or Thursday were anything but inappropriate, untimely, and an embarrassment to the members of the protest and this university. Students who attend this school have dedicated years of study in an effort to secure a job. The Weston Career Center and the Olin Business School have staff that invest countless hours recruiting firms to visit Wash. U. The firms themselves invest money in having booths, sending representatives to St. Louis and hiring graduates of this institution. Above all, recruiters and representatives of companies visiting this campus are guests and deserve to be treated as such. Deliberately attempting to humiliate these individuals is unacceptable.
The act of drawing attention to one’s cause in such a manner as that used by Green Action only appears selfish and attention-seeking. Could the group not have achieved a better discussion by approaching the representatives of Bank of America and having a conversation with them? Is the group so desperate for attention, so inconsiderate, that it couldn’t engage its fellow students in conversation before going into the event, informing them of its beliefs and suggesting that the students attending the event truly investigate for whom they are considering working? Brash, naive actions serve no purpose and have no place at this university, no matter the cause.
As a sidenote, Bank of America has pledged $50 billion toward investment in green companies (New York Times, June 10, 2012).