“There are a lot of companies that offer recruiting events at NYU. Some students want to enter the private sector and work at some of these companies, others don’t. It’s an ongoing ideological battle,” said Raghunathan. “What surprised me about our event was that people showed up and were very engaged and concerned about ethical actions of tech companies. It was a very philosophical event.”In Mozilla’s guide, tech workers offer advice to students compiled during these sessions for navigating the recruitment process—as well as a history of tech worker organizing, beginning in 1969 when the New York City collective Computer People for Peace demanded the international computing society ACM denounce the Vietnam War.“We wanted to create content that would address questions students might have before talking to a tech recruiter, and that included that tells the larger story of organizing in tech,” Ashley Boyd, Mozilla's vice president of Advocacy, told Motherboard. “We want students to know that it’s been happening for quite some time. That is to say, these efforts have taken shape before and will continue to be needed. Many of the questions we address are the perennial questions that workers face.”
“Addressing ethical issues in tech can be overwhelming for students interested in working in tech. But change in the industry is not impossible. And it is increasingly necessary."
“We’ve been honing in on the topic of AI trustworthiness,” said Boyd. “So we began an initiative to build ethics into computer science training. At that point, we were hearing concerns from students getting ready to graduate about the recruitment process. [Last fall’s] events came out of the desire for a space for students to think about these questions and discuss how to leverage the power they have over tech companies as highly sought professionals.”“Ethics are a big topic of discussion on campus and in science departments at Stanford,” Brooke Teferra, a fourth year mechanical engineering major and president of the club Computer Science for Social Good at Stanford, told Motherboard. Last October, Mozilla sponsored Teferra to speak about tech organizing at Stanford at MozFest, the company’s annual internet conference, in London. “We talked about what tech organizing looks like and how students are becoming more cognizant and the discussion is changing at Stanford. I didn’t know too much about Mozila before this. If they are doing what they say they’re doing, that’s incredible. It’s very easy to see companies set up these initiatives, but it’s not easy to implement them.”Boyd, Mozilla’s vice president of advocacy, said moving forward, the company plans to gauge the effectiveness of last year’s events with the hopes of hosting more events on college campuses this year.Check out Motherboard's guide to secure labor organizing: How to Organize Your Workplace Without Getting Caught.
Are you a tech worker or student organizing an action or protest? We'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch with Lauren via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Signal 201-897-2109.