Back in August, a Dartmouth undergraduate wrote an editorial taking issue with "faceless hedge funds" and his peers in New Hampshire who "flock to Wall Street to perpetuate class-based systems of power and dominance." And, as the new semester began, it turned out that Dartmouth boy wasn't alone. At campuses across the country but particularly at Ivy League schools, those less than thrilled with Wall Street, and the prospect of their fellow students taking jobs there, have let it out. As a result, many would now prefer to disclose a raging case of gonorrhea or being born with only 7 toes, than the dirty little secret that they hope to gain employment in the financial services industry, for fear of mocking and scorn. After a group of Occupy Harvard protesters "attempted to disrupt a Goldman Sachs recruiting event at the Office of Career Services" on Monday, though, the school newspaper had decided it'd had enough. A strongly-worded editorial was in order.
... while many experts agree that Goldman was part of the problematic system that created the financial crisis, Occupy Harvard’s targeting of a Goldman Sachs recruiting event presents a facile and trivializing interpretation of the root causes of the economic catastrophe and debases our national conversation on the issue.
They went on.
Obviously, Goldman Sachs is not without blame in the financial crisis. The deceptive and irresponsible peddling of financial products known to be “crap” by their traders stands as a monument to the dangers of an insufficiently regulated financial sector. If Goldman Sachs employees had resisted the kinds of dealing that lead to high bonuses and long-term financial instability, it is possible that the mortgage crisis would not have been as severe as it was. However, to single out Goldman Sachs as a single target of opprobrium for causing the financial crisis is myopic and unoriginal; Goldman has been in the eye of the storm of banker bashing for close to three years now. No one has successfully proven yet that this one investment bank caused the financial crisis and benefited unduly from it. Instead, the bank was simply one actor out of many, and certainly doesn’t fit the role of super villain as well as the Occupy Harvard folks imagine it does. For example, an excellent argument could be made that the millions of Americans who took on mortgages beyond their means are equally responsible as a group for the financial meltdown. Certainly, the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act also figures prominently in our nation’s pre-crisis financial instability. It would be convenient if we could easily paint Goldman Sachs as the evil enemy of the 99 percent, but it’s more complicated than that.
More unsavory, the protest carried with it a strong sentiment against Harvard undergraduates seeking careers in the financial services industry. Perhaps it is not ideal that so many of us go on to Wall Street, but targeting individuals looking at career options in this way is hardly the appropriate remedy. Many students who enter these fields are not the scions of banking families but rather hard-working students looking for a challenging job that lets them experience a newfound financial prosperity. To exhort students to consider their contribution to society when choosing a career is one thing but to target those who want to work for Goldman Sachs misses the point; whatever negative impact the company has on our economy is due to structural issues rather than questions of individual morality. Deterring a couple dozen Harvard students from working at Goldman will not change income inequality nor will it create a more equitable society. Goldman will just hire the next people in line.
Anyway, if the above doesn't deter anyone from interrupting Goldman's next recruiting session, maybe taking it up with Larry Summers? He's generally receptive to solving student body tiffs. In related news, this sort of pen and paper response likely disappointed Harvard B-school professor Lee O. Fleming, who prefers to settle conflicts in a slightly more heated fashion.
Occupy Recruiting [The Crimson via DI]
Related: College Students Hesitant To Reveal Scarlet ‘B’
Also Related: Dartmouth Undergrad Has A Bone To Pick With Ray Dalio, ‘Faceless Hedge Funds,’ The Dartmouth Board, And Peers Who Flock To Wall Street To ‘Perpetuate Class-Based Systems Of Power And Dominance’