Student groups protest Philip Morris recruiting at Rutgers
(U-WIRE) NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Protesters demonstrated at Rutgers University Monday against the Philip Morris corporation's recruitment of graduating seniors for positions within the company.
Michael Geoghegan, formerly of the corporate activist group INFACT, organized students from various campus activist organizations -- such as the RU Greens, RU Ignite! and the Student Action Union -- to protest the business activities of the Philip Morris corporation.
Among the activities called into question by the protesters was Philip Morris' takeover of Nabisco -- a New Jersey-based company with strong ties to the University -- according to the prepared statement from New Jersey Public Interest Research Group.
Geoghegan said he denounced the corporation's use of food products -- including Kool-Aid, Jell-O, Kraft and currently Nabisco -- to put a wholesome face on its involvement in tobacco products.
"We want parents to know that they are buying food for their children from a company owned by a cigarette manufacturer," Geoghegan said.
Geoghegan said he questioned the ethics of University research with corporate ties to Philip Morris, referring to research in the Nabisco Center for Advanced Food Technology on the Cook campus.
"I don't want Rutgers getting Philip Morris' money," said protester Ryan Sholinsky, a Rutgers College junior. "I just want to tell them to get the heck out of Rutgers."
Protesters rallied around an oversized Kraft box labeled "Macaroni & Cheese and Cancer" with several large cigarettes protruding from the box and, adjacent to it, a platter of macaroni and cheese littered with cigarette butts.
Neither the recruiters nor the media relations department of Philip Morris would comment on the protest or any related issues, according to corporate policy forbidding them to give information to students and student media.
A student who did not want to be identified waiting in the career services room for an interview with the Philip Morris recruiter said, "I'm just looking for a job. I want to see what they have to offer." The student said that although he was not aware that Philip Morris owned Kraft and Nabisco products, it did not make a difference.
Onlookers were divided in their opinions of the protest.
"The food is a cover-up," said University bus driver Hollis Donaldson. "Charge them to die. Smoke them to death."
Another student who did not want to be identified said, "It's a choice [to smoke or not] that everybody has the right to make. I started, but I also quit on my own. It can be done."