Are campus protesters jeopardizing their employment futures?

As college students across the country speak out against the Gaza war, some employers are already threatening post-graduation consequences

Photo composite of a pro-Palestine protestor being detained on campus
The same elite and exclusive qualities that made the Ivy League appealing to potential employers are now "scrutinized under the lens of current campus climates"
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images)

To the extent that there is such a thing as a "normal" academic year, this past one has been anything but. Across the country, student protests against the ongoing war in Gaza have consumed college campuses, prompting counter-protests, police action, and external reactions from across the ideological spectrum. Throughout it all, the focus has largely been on the campuses themselves: how the schools have responded to these once-in-a-generation actions and the potential effects on the coming presidential election. 

As graduation season looms, however, college protesters are now facing threats from some of the legal and business world's most powerful figures who claim that by joining their campus demonstrations, many outgoing students have ruined their chances of post-collegiate employment. Recently a group of 13 conservative federal judges declared that, having "lost confidence in Columbia as an institution of higher education" after the Gaza protests there, they would no longer hire anyone who "joins the Columbia University community — whether as undergraduates or law students —  beginning with the entering class of 2024." The statement comes seven months after "several CEOs announced a similar boycott against Harvard students" who belonged to groups that solely blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 massacre, Axios said. Are these nascent blacklists a real threat to graduating students, or simply political posturing from a limited set of elite employers? 

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Rafi Schwartz, The Week US

Rafi Schwartz has worked as a politics writer at The Week since 2022, where he covers elections, Congress and the White House. He was previously a contributing writer with Mic focusing largely on politics, a senior writer with Splinter News, a staff writer for Fusion's news lab, and the managing editor of Heeb Magazine, a Jewish life and culture publication. Rafi's work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GOOD and The Forward, among others.