Case Study: Student Activism and Employer Access

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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 that may regulate employers’ access to recruiting, particularly if the employer is a government entity.

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.

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. Finally, Principle 3 dictates that employers should be granted equitable access regardless of affiliation.

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 the university/college’s general counsel or campus security. This decision will allow the career center to uphold the applicable 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 accord with all other university/college policies, including those that require equitable access to recruiting for similarly situated employers. The career center director should consult with other relevant student offices, 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 safety-related issues, including 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 and updated by the 2022 Principles for Ethical Professional Practice Committee.

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