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Wall Street Backlash: Students Protest JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon


Civil Rights. Tyranny. War.

Syracuse Orangemen Mascot
Photo: Court Hathaway/Daily Orange

These are some of the historical events students have felt so passionately about, they've flocked to their quads in protest.

Add one more to that list: The sage advice of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

Dimon was selected to give the commencement speech at Syracuse Universitythis year but students have no interest in hearing from Wall Street’s poster boy and they’ll be hitting the quad on Friday for a “Take Back Commencement” rally.

“The banking industry failed us and JPMorgan is one of the largest banks in this country,” said Mariel A. Fiedler, a broadcast journalism and English major who is among the students leading the protest — which includes a Facebook page— in hopes that the school will reconsider having Dimon speak.

“People say, ‘But JPMorgan is one of the most responsible banks — they didn’t even need the [government’s] money,’” Fiedler said. “But that’s what’s so dangerous about him — he works successfully in an industry that failed.”

Fiedler said that’s not the only reason students are dissing Dimon: Some are already opposed to what they see as JPMorgan’s meddling on campus, which includes $30 million for a school renovation and technology/business major that includes JPMorgan internships — in other words, programming students the Wall Street way.

Plus, she said, a lot of students view JPMorgan as anti-environmental for its investment in “mountaintop removal” to “reap coal from the country’s mountainsides.”

On the conference call about JPMorgan's earningsthis morning, Dimon said he's still planning to attend the May 16 speech and added that college students have a right to express their opinions.

Past Syracuse commencement speakers have tended to be politicians (Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Rudy Guiliani), entertainers (Billy Joel, Kurt Vonnegut) and media figures (Bob Woodruff, Ted Koppel) but have rarely included leaders of business — Malcom Forbes and Nelson Rockefeller were about the only business-related speakers since 1893.

So who would the students rather have than Jamie Dimon?

Fielder said maybe a humor writer like David Sedarisor Sarah Vowell, rocker/motivational speaker Andrew W.K., or Amy Goodman, host of the TV and radio program “Democracy Now.”

And how do students plan to protest on Friday — a sit-in? a march to the Chancellor’s office?

Actually, it’s going to be a dance protest.

Fiedler said the idea of a dance-party protest was inspired by the “Funk the War” dance protest by the Students for a Democratic Societyto try to get government to spend more on education and less on war.

“It gets people out in the street … it’s so much fun!” Fiedler said of the dance protest.

They’re still working out the exact agenda for Friday, but Fiedler said it will include speeches by students and community leaders, the circulation of a petition, and of course — the dance component.

Can you hear it now?

No Dimon … No Speech!

No Dimon … No Speech!

[Cue the club-thumping beat]

BOOM-tsss … BOOM-tsss … BOOM-tsss …

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