Click here for updates on the evolving COVID-19 situation at Rice
Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Thursday, May 13, 2021 — Houston, TX 66°

Consider ethics in your job search

By Thresher Editorial Board     10/8/19 10:04pm

A petition demanding that the computer science department cut ties with Palantir Technologies raised concerns about Palantir’s connections to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As we are students in a border state where ICE has a large presence, the petition raises a valid concern about Palantir specifically. More broadly, it points to the necessity of a critical examination of potential employers. As recruiting season continues, students should consider more than their prospective paycheck when weighing employment options. 

While aimed specifically at Palantir, the sentiment behind the petition should apply to almost every company that recruits Rice students; many companies have similarly questionable practices, such as exploiting their employees or harming the environment. 

Companies do not exist on a binary scale of ethical or unethical — if they did, nearly every corporation would fall under the latter. But, they can and should be critically compared. Similarly, not all roles in a given company are created equal in terms of the societal and environmental problems they actively contribute to. But, even working in diversity and inclusion or sustainability means identifying with the company’s overall values and practices, and contributing to their profits that ultimately allow them to continue large-scale problematic behavior.

At Rice, it’s easy for students to lose sight of the world beyond the hedges. This is especially true when it comes to the jobs students seek out. Generally, students weigh pay, location and work-life balance when evaluating where they want to work post-graduation. But, for each company, weighing the performance of values by those empowering the organization is also important. Because quantifying ethics isn’t as simple as quantifying payment, hours expected to be worked, commute time or cost of living, students should invest time into deeper inquiry and self-reflection about the companies they might sign with. This may mean searching for jobs outside of the career fair or on-campus recruiting events, a route that many non-STEM students already pursue. This can pose financial challenges and greater time commitments, especially for students from low-income backgrounds who often have to prioritize financial support and stability over a commitment to certain company values. Regardless of economic background, however, students should take greater responsibility in examining their prospective employer and position; Palantir isn’t the only company with questionable practices. 

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 4/13/21 10:17pm
Account for international students when planning for fall

 On Rice’s campus, a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel finally seems to be emerging. The administration is optimistic about “a mostly normal fall semester,” according to communications sent out by Kevin Kirby. According to President Leebron’s announcement on fall planning, most classes are expected to be in person, most university housing is expected to be fully occupied and COVID-19 policies regarding gathering restrictions are expected to be relaxed. The road forward for many Rice students is clear: Sign up for a vaccine appointment as soon as possible and wait for more than 80% of the Rice community to be fully vaccinated so that COVID-19 policies can be relaxed.

OPINION 4/6/21 9:19pm
Willy Week no more: Students have the power to distance from William Marsh Rice

This year’s Beer Bike Week looks quite different from years past, even in name. Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman encouraged Beer Bike coordinators to rename Willy Week to reflect the different nature of the event due to COVID restrictions. Individual college Beer Bike coordinators chose a variety of new, college-specific names; many told the Thresher that they were further motivated to change the name to distance their college from William Marsh Rice and that they may carry the name change into future years. Coordinators’ swift renaming of Willy Week reminds us that students have a lot of power at this university — and that we can and should use it to foster a Rice community that we’re proud of.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.