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  • Case Study: Student Activism and Employer Access

    Organizational Structure
    Students protest on campus.

    TAGS: case study, ethics, principles

    by the Principles for Ethical Professional Practice Committee

    Scenario: A senior university/college official has required the career center to bar a specific employer from any on-campus recruiting events—including interviews and career fairs—due to possible protests on campus.

    Questions: Should a university/college bar an employer from recruiting on campus if protests are possible? What if protests are likely or definite? How should similar employers be considered?

    Analysis: As a first step, university general counsel should be consulted to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws, which may regulate employers’ access to recruiting, particularly if the employer is a government entity.

    Based on Principle 1, career centers should guarantee equitable services for all constituencies, including employers. Further according to Principle 2, career centers should act without bias when allowing employers access to recruit students. Principle 3 indicates that employers should be granted equitable access regardless of affiliation.

    Principles That Apply:

    • Principle 1: Practice reasonable, responsible, and transparent behavior that guarantees equitable services for all constituencies.
    • Principle 2: Act without bias when advising, servicing, interviewing, or making employment decisions.
    • Principle 3: Ensure equitable access without stipulation or exception relative to contributions of financial support, gifts, affiliation, or in-kind services.

    Options for Resolution: Based on the Principles for Ethical Professional Practice, the career center should permit the employer to participate in recruiting activities, unless otherwise advised by general counsel or campus security. This decision will allow the career center to uphold the relevant Principles and provide students the choice to apply.

    Other Considerations: Several best practices are recommended in this situation. First, it is recommended that the career center ensure that the decision is in line with policies allowing equitable access to recruiting for similarly situated employers. The career center director should involve other relevant student offices in consultation, such as student affairs and the office of diversity and inclusion. It is further recommended that the career center consult with campus and local security to discuss, as relevant, the safety of the employer representatives during their visit and the safety of any protesters. Finally, in the event of a protest regarding any employer, career centers must ensure compliance with relevant university policies regarding potential disruption to other students and employers participating in the event.

    Reviewed by the 2020 Principles for Ethical Professional Practice Committee.

  • PLI