Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

NSA visit triggers career ethics debate

<lass="page section layoutArea column" title="Page 1">

On Tuesday, April 7th, the National Security Agency held an informational session for students interested in potential employment in the agency, triggering a debate about ethical employers and free speech on campus.

This event, in addition to fall term’s CIA recruitment event, was organized by the career center, and resulted in Carleton Organization of Radicals and Leftists (CORAL) members expressing frustration with Carleton’s willingness to promote controversial governmental agencies such as the CIA and NSA.

For the April 7 event, CORAL members, Sam Neubauer ’17, Abhimanyu Lele ’16, and David Atkinson ’15, distributed leaflets outside of the Leighton 304 informational session, encouraging students to research the controversy surround the NSA and CIA. “We felt that if people wanted to work for the NSA, they should know about its terrible human rights record before they did that,” said Lele.

Neubauer stated that the group “wanted to register dissent, in some way, against the NSA coming to this campus. We made an information sheet, not super aggressive, with facts about the NSA.”

According to Neubauer, an unidentified person approached him and asked him to stop distributing leaflets and to leave. When Neubauer refused, he said “she called security, and then they showed up and asked what we were doing,” warned them not to cause a disturbance, and allowed CORAL to continue handing out leaflets.

Career center director, Kimberly Betz ’91, was not present at the event and was not aware of the incident.

Contrary to CORAL’s version, Betz said that the career center’s program director for recruiting, Erin Chamlee, who attended the informational session and is new to Carleton, “placed a call to security to ask for advice on what she might do if anyone ever did try to disrupt an information session or try to prevent other students from learning about opportunities” after viewing CORAL members handing out flyers, but “being very respectful. After this, security stopped by Leighton to see what the event was. There was no incident or disruption.”

Betz reaffirmed the career center’s position on students’ right to demonstrate, saying “that’s their right to do.” She knew there were students passing out literature, but “as long as a protest isn’t impeding other students’ right to access information, I think it’s totally fine. My biggest concern is if there’s a student who is trying to prevent other students from having access to something. I don’t think that would be fair, but people totally have the right to voice their opinions, and I support that.”

According to Wayne Eisenhuth, director of security, security was “notified just prior to the event starting called by a staff member who expressed concern that individuals were planning on disrupting the event.”

Stating that security’s role is to maintain individuals’ safety, Eisenhuth said “we did not observe anyone being forced to take a leaflet, nor was anyone being prohibited or blocked from entering the classroom where the event was being held.” Security was satisfied that CORAL members were “respecting the rights of those individuals who wished to attend the event and that CORAL’s rights as protesters were being respected as well.”

However, CORAL maintains its position that Carleton excessively promotes of governmental agencies, like the NSA and CIA. Both Lele and Neubauer acknowledged “we can’t stop the CIA and NSA from recruiting” due to the 1996 Solomon Amendment, which requires any school receiving federal funding to permit recruitment by governmental agencies, but stressed that “what we’re more upset about is that the Career Center packages it as an attractive and positive career opportunity.” Citing both agencies’ illegal activities and human rights abuses, Lele said that through these events, “we’re essentially giving them institutional backing by giving them a place to speak and a captive audience.”

The career center offers three main channels for employers to recruit students: tabling in Sayles, information sessions, and personal interviews. “Those are the major ways that we work with any employer for on campus recruiting,” says Betz.

“Some organizations have on-campus recruiting as a model, and they’re usually larger organizations,” while smaller organizations often cannot recruit in the same manner due to fewer resources. “It’s not that we’re not having non-profits and other organizations not hire students, it’s just that they’re structured differently, so we interact with them in a little bit different way.”

CORAL member Neubauer emphasized that “every Carleton student totally has the right to think about and consider whether or not they ethically feel good about supporting the NSA and CIA.

“I’m not trying to make that not a possibility. But are we prioritizing groups that are trying to make a positive difference in this world, or are we prioritizing groups that are trampling over civil liberties and human rights?”

While the two agencies have controversial reputations, recruitment efforts do attract Carls. According to the career center, this year’s NSA information session, which included a Carleton alum, Jonathan Darby ’83, attracted 11 students, and fall’s CIA information session drew over 47 students. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *