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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

University holds biggest career fair yet, faces protesters

Student groups protest military, finance companies in attendance.

The entrance of Gantcher Center is pictured on Aug. 28, 2020.

Over 1,500 students and 150 employers gathered for Tufts’ largest in-person career fair yet, held on Sept. 29 in the Gantcher Center. During the event, over a dozen students from campus groups including the Revolutionary Marxist Students gathered outside to protest the presence of several employers.

According to an Instagram post made by the Revolutionary Marxist Students organization, protestors took issue with “the oppressive military forces and their aids that carry out both imperialist war abroad and facilitate the policing, surveillance and broad repression of our people at home.”

Donna Esposito, executive director of the Career Center, affirmed the students’ right to protest and explained the reasoning for hosting a wide range of organizations in an email to the Daily.

“We respect the right of students to exercise their free speech rights and to express their opinions in accordance with Tufts’ policy on Gatherings, Protests, and Demonstrations, which we understand they did,” Esposito said. “We also know that many students are interested in hearing about the varied job and internship opportunities that are available in the job marketplace.”

Esposito also noted that the organizations present did not necessarily represent the interests or affiliations of the Career Center.

“An employer’s presence at a Career Center event should not be interpreted as a university endorsement of the organization,” Esposito said. “The Career Center consistently encourages students to select opportunities that best align with their personal interests and values.”

Protestors took issue with 12–15 groups present, which included branches of the United States Armed Forces, investment firms and prison-related entities like the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, according to the protestor. Students outside the event recited chants such as “when missiles fly and people die, then bank profits multiply.”

[We’re] here to really call attention to the role that Tufts is playing in all of this,” Brian, a student protestor who withheld his last name to maintain anonymity, said. “All of these entities exist, regardless of whether Tufts invites them to the career fair, but Tufts is allowing them to be here. And we think that it’s a little bit ridiculous that our university — that’s allegedly one that’s so progressive — is willing to bring these guys here.”

The protestor also said that the intention of the protest was not to dissuade Tufts students from seeking jobs, but rather to encourage critical thinking.

“I think it’s a really good exposure of the role Tufts holds in this society, pushing us into these jobs, encouraging us to not really think about who actually benefits from these jobs,” Brian said. “It’s not really about questioning, ‘What am I actually doing with this job?’”

Sophomore Zara Ahmed, who attended the event, said she respected students’ right to protest and understood their decision to speak out, but was skeptical of their actual impact.

“I feel like people who are going to the Career Fair already have a couple of companies in mind and they’re not going to listen to protests against them,” she said. “Of course, I think it’s important to highlight the immoral fallacies that companies do continuously produce. But, … especially in the fields I’m planning to go into, like finance and business, a lot of people skip over things like that.”

According to Ahmed, she went to the career fair to “line up … connections for a future-year internship.” Ahmed generally found career fairs to be useful events to help put faces to names from potential employers.

Ahmed also said she was satisfied with the number and variety of firms present that matched her professional interests, but believes that other industries could have been better represented.

“Well, I think when we think ‘career fair,’ we don’t necessarily think of anything much beyond economics, finance [and] business,” she said. “I think we could have had a little more diversity for people in politics. I didn’t see too much of anything like that.”

Nevertheless, Ahmed was content with the event’s opportunities.

“I think it educated me, more so than giving me very strong connections,” she said. “I know a little bit more about what exactly these companies are offering and I personally will be taking the next steps.”