We have previously discussed the effort of students and faculty to bar federal agencies like ICE from job fairs despite the strong interest (and need) of students to seek such jobs. Now the American University College Democrats have demanded the banning of Customs and Border Protection despite widespread unemployment and the dire need of many fellow students to find positions with such agencies. The interesting twist is that this was not even an on campus event but a virtual event. Even without the government stepping on campus, the students objected to other students being able to speak with Customs in a virtual space.
The virtual event for May 15 began badly when, according to The Eagle, recruiters received information on every registrant for the fair regardless of whether they wanted to speak with the recruiter. Customs then sent out a spreadsheet that included “many registrants’ cities, states, phone numbers and graduation dates.” CBP apologized for the “unintentional disclosure of personally identifiable information” but insisted that it only affected “a limited number of potential CBP job applicants.” The College Democrats were absolutely right to call out that failure and object to the university.
However, the opposition to the recruiting event went beyond the incident and focused on the work of the Customs and Border Protection. The College Democrats circulated a petition that declared:
“While it was a virtual event, allowing CBP to take part in our school function is the same as letting them walk onto our campus. If COVID-19 had gone differently, this event would have been in person and CBP would have been on our campus, attempting to recruit students. Having the presence of CBP on AU grounds without notifying students would have put several students in danger and showed a complete disregard for many students’ personal safety. This is exceptionally scary and unfair for immigrant and undocumented people at AU. No student should ever be put in a place where they have to share their personal information to get a career opportunity, and AU does not have the right to provide this information to organizations without a student’s consent.”
Thus, the student are seeking other students from interviewing for jobs off campus in virtual space. The petition below demands that “CBP … no longer be allowed to take part in not just career events but all American University campus functions.” There is not a hint of self-examination in whether students should be allowed to reach their own decisions on such work or whether it is appropriate to deny fellow students access to badly needed jobs in an economic meltdown. Instead, the students object to any presence of the agency because such events are “exceptionally scary” for many on campus. Indeed, the College Democrats insist that having the agency on campus would show “a complete disregard for many students’ personal safety.” Many students are facing exceptionally scary economic prospects and do not share the visceral reaction of the College Democrats to the work of this agency. The idea that these students should be able to bar other students from making such choices is unfortunately increasingly common on our campus. We have embraced forms of speech regulation and enforced ill-defined “microaggression” policies to silence many with opposing views. Now such efforts include barring others from employment deemed unacceptable.
Here is the petition.