In 1986, representatives of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) came to campus to recruit Claremont students. This attempt, however, ended up being more controversial than the organizers anticipated, as students marched to protest this recruitment outside the Career Placement Office.
But in spite of this history of protest, the CIA has once again looked to Claremont to recruit its next generation of employees. The CIA has been coming to the 5Cs every year in recent memory, and the most iteration of this recruiting drive will happen at Scripps on Nov. 12. At the session, an unidentified female representative “will be sharing her experience as a woman working in the CIA.” But these recruitment drives have taken place with little to no pushback from students.
The question that follows, then, is this: Why has there been so little protest surrounding the CIA’s recruitment strategies in Claremont in recent years? Do students not know, or do they not care?
One possible explanation is that the CIA has become much less controversial since the mid-1980s, when the original protests took place. After all, this was during the height of the Iran-Contra affair, when the CIA's abhorrent practices abroad were becoming known. Perhaps the National Security Agency would attract just as much attention as the CIA did in the 1980s, given their controversial data collection practices that have come to light.
But this doesn’t explain the whole story – the CIA certainly has been involved in reprehensible activities in the recent past, not the least of which would be its drone strikes, which may have killed as many as 1,000 civilians in the last 10 years, including about 200 children and several United States citizens. If this isn't something that Claremont student know about, it should be.
It could be reticence among our generation about this issue that explains the lack of backlash. This however, isn't completely true. At the University of Illinois, the CIA was actually driven off campus owing to the efforts of campus activists. This demonstrates that members of our own generation have engaged in effective protests around this very issue.
As disheartening as it may sound, another explanation could be that Claremont students are simply less politically active and aware than they were in the 1980s. If that's the case, we have a lot more work to do.