Students are expressing outrage over a posting on Handshake, a job recruitment platform, for a position as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. The posting is not new, but many students now deem it unacceptable, especially in light of new information about the federal government’s family separation policy. Career Services and the University argue the posting is acceptable according to standard job posting guidelines.
More than 250,000 employers can post to Handshake, an online career management system that is accessed by more than 500 college career centers.
Assistant Vice President for Communications Daniel Day said that all employers who post to Handshake are reviewed by Career Services and required to confirm compliance with professionally accepted recruiting, interviewing and selection practices. This includes standards and practices set forth in the University’s nondiscrimination policy, the NACE Principles for Ethical Professional Practice, the Princeton University Community Standards for Employment Professionals, and U.S. Department of Labor guidelines.
Several students who identify with the Hispanic community found the job posting for Customs and Border Protection Officer controversial.
The posting feels especially contentious to some students after the controversy surrounding the “zero tolerance” immigration policy of President Donald Trump’s administration, which includes separating migrant families along the border. On June 20, Trump issued an executive order to end the family separation policy, which before that had separated more than 2,300 children from their parents.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection first posted the position to Handshake in the fall of 2017, according to Interim Executive Director of Career Services Eva Kubu.
Samuel Santiago ’19, a politics major, first came across the posting on June 24.
“In the past, there have been problematic job postings, [such as] openings at private prisons,” explained Santiago, “so I was not surprised.”
Nevertheless, Santiago expressed his discontent with the job application when he posted it to Facebook on Monday afternoon with the caption “Handshake is helping ICE recruit Princeton University students to become Border Patrol Agents …”
The post generated 102 likes, 24 comments, and six shares. Many commented on the absurdity of the job posting, while one commenter supported the job posting by pointing out the bravery and courage that the position demands. Others commented on the high salary — $72,000 annually — or about similar job postings at their own colleges.
According to Kubu, the job posting may be at the end of its cycle. Kubu explained that the job posting had already been renewed once, which indicates that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not received the number of applicants they need.
While Santiago was upset about the job posting, he said he was more concerned about the message the University sends by supporting such a job posting.
Santiago pointed out how the administration frequently mentions how important immigrants are to the academic community, as if their usefulness is the reason why they deserve to be defended, rather than the simple fact that they are human.
Santiago, along with Princeton Latinos y Amigos and DREAM Team, began meeting with the administration in early 2017 to discuss issues in the University’s language regarding immigrants.
“If we as a university claim to be in favor and service of humanity and the nation,” noted Santiago, “then we also need to take a step back to think about the language we use to talk about the immigrant community.”
Kubu acknowledged the validity of students’ concerns over the job posting.
“I have a great deal of empathy for anything with respect to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Kubu said. “I strongly support our students having the freedom to voice concerns over opportunities that they feel should not be in the system or that they have an ethical or moral concern with.”
However, Kubu said, Career Services cannot remove job postings based on subjective reasoning. Rather, Career Services vets each employer based on objective, widely accepted criteria. Across her nine years with Career Services, Kubu said she recalls the removal of only one job posting, due to a fraudulent job description.
“We acknowledge that not all opportunities are of interest to all students,” Assistant Vice President for Communications Daniel Day wrote in an email statement. “Still, we believe it is appropriate to leave it to the members of our community to make their own personal decisions about the paths they pursue.”
Kubu added that personal choice is crucial for students, and that furthermore, Handshake is not only used by the University’s students, but also by 500 other college career centers.
Although Kubu explained that Career Services may not be able to take down the posting based on the subjective case presented by some students, she and Day nevertheless strongly encourage students to voice their concerns.
“We help students navigate the land of opportunity and [apply] their lens of personal beliefs and ethical values,” Kubu explained.
“We will meet with [students] on a one-on-one basis,” Kubu added. “It is important to me that students exercise the right to raise a concern and their freedom to voice their concerns. We are here to hear those.”
The number of students who have applied to or have been hired for the position is unknown.