Students piled into the student recreation center, resumes in hand, business attire bedecking them. Packed tightly together, they tried to impress potential employers with their bona fides and forced confidence. It was, for the most part, a normal and for some students even a wonted practice: Career Fair. To the dismay of some, however, something was lacking from this year’s event. Lockheed Martin, the self-described global defense company, was notably absent. While it is not entirely abnormal for a company to miss a career fair, rumors and anger began to stir in regards to Lockheed’s last-minute withdraw.
Ostensibly, if you are one who prima facie believes student rumors, Lockheed abandoned the event as a rebuke to posters that plastered the walls of campus buildings. As seen in the picture adorning this piece, the flyer argues that Lockheed Martin is complicit in the bombing of school children in Yemen. This piece is not aimed as a defense of Lockheed, a response to the posters message, or a normative claim about the company’s practices. Instead, this is a cautionary tale about jumping on a story.
It is desirable to imagine a version of this narrative where a morally driven or self-righteous (depending on your view) student, puts up a few posters that get under the thin skin of a multi-billion-dollar defense contractor. If you want a job at Lockheed, this narrative gives you a universal, singly focused, individual to direct your rage at. If you disagree with Lockheed’s practices, this will undoubtedly affirm to you that the company internalizes the unethical nature of their business and are too scared to defend themselves. And if you are a student who believes that university administrations are abhorrent top-down bureaucratic institutions looking to foster their self-interest, you may even believe the rumor that they are seeking to punish the student vigilante for vandalism. Unfortunately, none of this appears to be true.
Before, I go into why I think the claims are baseless. I want to stress that I am not trying to lecture you, the student body, and hold myself as above the fray. In fact, I am, if anything, more guilty of this than the rest of the campus. The piece you are currently reading was profoundly different for a time. I almost argued that the school was silencing free-speech in an attempt to punish a student for voicing their opinion. In hindsight, however, such castigation would have been woefully misguided and myopically construed. Based on my discussion with employees at the Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (SAIL) office and faculty administration, I would like to set the record straight. Firstly, whoever put up the posters (it may have been a student or former employee) did not attempt to have their posters approved by SAIL. Secondly, Lockheed Martin did not pull out of career fair in response to the flyers. Prior to the career fair, Lockheed informed the school that they were “not able to pull together the available support in time [for] the event.” It seems likely that Lockheed did not even know the posters were on campus when they withdrew from the event. Lastly, the school is not seeking to punish whoever put up the posters. The posters were taken down in accordance with the school’s fair use policy, but that is the only action that was and is being taken.
While you may discount much of what the administration has said, especially if you fall into the third category I mentioned before (the hating administration camp), I think there is good reason to believe this version of events. When taken with a holistic perspective is it really that likely that a multi-billion-dollar company pulled out of a recruiting event merely because of one poster? Lockheed goes to career fairs at the University of Colorado Boulder. It is safe to imagine they face significantly more pushback from the students there than they will here. And yet, they still go to the school for career events.
In short, sometimes we all can have a tendency to jump onto stories that fit our notions of the world too quickly. It’s easy to compartmentalize every group into good and evil and to believe stories that bolster this perspective. But to do so is lazy and short-sighted. The world is more complicated, and we need to take the time to assess the stories we hear. Like Career Fair, such a process can be tedious and annoying. But it is also necessary to ensure that we live a successful and well-reasoned life.