On Thursday the Central Intelligence Agency cancelled a planned event at New York University after activists with the Campus Antiwar Network announced plans to stage a protest.
The CIA is involved in a little-known marketing program at NYU and the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). The Agency is funding a program where business students develop a marketing plan to help improve the CIA’s success in on-campus recruiting. On this pilot project, the CIA is also working the private marketing company EdVenture Partners which has previously worked with the National Security Agency and State Department.
“The Collegiate Marketing Program is designed to give students hands-on training about the fundamentals of marketing,” reported the Pan American, the student newspaper at the University of Texas. “The idea is that students recruit students for the CIA.”
In Texas, the program generated controversy because the marketing students had asked professors — primarily in the departments of Middle Eastern studies and Asian studies — to use class time to survey students about their attitudes toward the CIA.
In a recent report, the Austin Chronicle pointed out that the EdVenture Partners’ Web site makes it clear that education is not its only goal: “Students receive an unparalleled educational experience they will put in their resumes, and you leave with what every marketer dreams of … Results – developed by the target audience for the target audience.”
Students at both schools have protested the CIA project.
“This CIA recruitment in the guise of a class represents a campaign of sorts on the part of the government to pull as many as they can into the military machine.” said Sam Pipp, a sophomore at NYU and member of the Campus Antiwar Network.
Fellow CAN member, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, added “We believe they’re testing the waters to see how brazenly they can recruit on campuses without encountering student opposition, before spreading programs like this to colleges across the country.”