When we were at Princeton, we often were reminded that Princeton’s motto is “In the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.” Despite this ideal, we realize that to many within and outside the Orange Bubble, Princeton symbolizes something much less noble: greed, privilege, and elitism. We believe that part of this perception stems from Princeton’s strong institutional support for financial-service firms that have manipulated the political systems and economies of nations around the world to the detriment of those societies and the stability of the global financial system.
We applaud the students of Occupy Princeton for challenging Princeton’s dominant culture of political disengagement. Princeton graduates have the opportunity to choose their own career paths. If they do choose to work in finance, they should know they are entering an industry with a reprehensible historical record of breaching public trust and engaging in practices that run directly counter to Princeton’s motto. We believe that the Occupy Princeton protests send an important message to these financial institutions about the University’s values and serve to educate students considering a career in finance.
The University administration should support those students who are attempting to bring Princeton into a much-needed national conversation about income inequality and economic injustice. Moreover, we urge the administration to stop providing institutional support for recruiting on campus by the worst offenders of the financial industry. Instead, Princeton should redirect its resources to support career options that look beyond the pursuit of profit and allow the University and University graduates to show true leadership and social responsibility, whether in finance or in any other field.
Lastly, we call on fellow alumni to join us in making it clear that “In the nation’s service and in the service of all nations” must include everyone, not just the wealthiest 1 percent.