Wall Street Protests Inspire Ire Over Bank Recruiting

As protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement continue to camp out in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, students at some of the nation’s top colleges are also taking up the banner of antibank activism, beginning with their schools’ on-campus recruiting programs.

The Stanford Daily published an op-ed piece on Tuesday entitled “Stop the Wall Street Recruitment.” In the piece, two Stanford seniors, Teryn Norris and Eli Pollak, argue that the “extensive influence” Wall Street banks have on campus, including aggressive recruiting programs and access to top undergraduates, is undeserved.

“Three years after the financial industry nearly caused a second Great Depression, our nation’s top universities remain the primary training and recruiting grounds for these same reckless institutions,” the students wrote. “This is antithetical to the civic mission and responsibility of higher education, and it is time for the academic community to seriously address this problem.”

Also on Tuesday, an op-ed in The Harvard Crimson entitled “Boycott Wall Street” encouraged Harvard undergraduates to consider careers in more creative fields, such as engineering and journalism.

“Many of these careers may not be as financially rewarding as investment banking,” the op-ed’s author, David Weinfeld, a Harvard alumnus, wrote. “But I assure you, they will almost certainly make you less insipid than your profiteering peers.”

These are far from the first op-ed rallying cries about Wall Street’s campus recruiting programs. In August, a Dartmouth undergraduate, Andrew Lohse, called the recruitment programs a “tragedy of wasted minds.” And a recent article by Marina Keegan in The Yale Daily News turned a critical eye to the historically high percentage of Yale graduates who go into finance or consulting jobs.

“There’s something sad about so many of us entering a line of work in which we’re not (for the most part) producing something, or helping someone, or engaging in something that we’re explicitly passionate about,” Ms. Keegan wrote.

But antibank activism hasn’t stopped at the op-ed column. Students at Brown University have begun conducting group meetings in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, and a group of Harvard students joined forces with an “Occupy Boston” protest last week.

Clearly, the protests in downtown Manhattan have not only galvanized many of the 99 percent. They are drawing in the 99th percentile, too.