Friday, April 14, 2006

Those ubiquitous military recruiters

From one of my favorite little California cities, Santa Cruz, comes the following story as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle this past Wednesday. It came to my attention via a local El Paso Peace Group, Border Peace Presence.

SANTA CRUZ
Military recruiters, confronted by crowd, leave campus job fair
Anti-war protesters at university block doors to building
by Diana Walsh, Chronicle Staff Writer

Four military recruiters hastily fled a job fair Tuesday morning at UC Santa Cruz after a raucous crowd of student protesters blocked an entrance to the building where the Army and National Guard had set up information tables.

Members of Students Against War, who organized the counter-recruiting protest, loudly chanted "Don't come back. Don't come back" as the recruiters left the hilltop campus, escorted by several university police officers.

"The situation had degraded to the point where there was a possibility of injury to either a student or law enforcement officer. We certainly didn't want that to happen,'' said Capt. Will Griffin, one of the Army recruiters.

University officials had been aware for weeks that Students Against War planned a protest to prevent military personnel from participating in the school's biannual job fair held for students.

The student organization has become a bit of a cause celebre of the national anti-war movement ever since it was discovered that the group's protest of the same job fair last April landed it in a Pentagon surveillance file, which listed the protest as a "credible threat" to military facilities or personnel.

Universities that receive federal funds are required to allow military recruiters on campus. But campus officials had worried that Tuesday's protest would get out of hand as it had last April, when Students Against War protesters surrounded the table where military personnel sat, and hundreds of other demonstrators engaged in an angry protest outside. Some of the recruiters reported that their tires had been slashed and one employee at the career center was injured.

David Kliger, campus provost and executive vice chancellor, said the school was most concerned Tuesday about safety issues, but also wanted to preserve access to the recruiters for students who wanted to speak with them, while still allowing protesting students their right to free speech.

Kliger said officials had tried to engage the anti-war student group in discussions in the weeks leading up to the fair. But when talks broke down, officials began privately hoping for rain and brought in extra police.

The rain probably accounted for a decidedly smaller turnout -- about 100 students compared with about 300 a year earlier.

Still, the Army's Griffin said he sensed that some of the students were "looking for action" and decided to pack up their table before things got out of hand and someone got injured.

Students Against War members said they were pleased that their counter-recruiting effort forced the military personnel off campus, at least for the time being.

"We're saying it's not OK to recruit on high school campuses, it's not OK to recruit on university campuses,'' Marla Zubel, a UC Santa Cruz senior and member of Students Against War, said. "In order to stop the war, you have to make it more difficult to wage war."

But at least one student, Cody James, said he was disappointed that he couldn't get in to speak with the military personnel.

"It's frustrating,'' said James, a senior majoring in politics. "I'm not a Republican. I'm not a conservative. I don't support the war. It's about finding a career."

E-mail Diana Walsh at dwalsh@sfchronicle.com


Dada Responds

Dada would just like to address the disappointment expressed by student Cody James above. Recruiters have offices located all over the country. Recruiters can be found scouring beaches or bleachers or anyplace frequented by young people with offers like, "You want a dog tag? It’s a custom made dog tag, man."

Since the the Iraq war, military recruiters have become more numerous and far more aggressive than Jehovah Witness recruiters. It's debatable which may be more hazardous to one's well being, but a little caution is warranted. Both can be harmful.

But it seems to me military recruiters as sponsored by the United States Department of Defense have lost their on-campus privileges. Consider some of the following reasons as why:

Money for College:

First of all, potential recruits should know that military salesmen they may speak to are not obligated to keep any promise they make you regarding money for your education.

With that in mind, know that if approached with a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably really is. First, to participate in the GI Bill, recruits must contribute $100 nonrefundable! per month the first year of their enlistment to qualify. Only 16% of those who complete a 4 year enlistment actually receive benefits under the GI Bill.

The maximum benefit provided by the GI Bill over four years of college is $15,000 vs. $30,000/year private university costs making this benefit no guarantee of a guaranteed government financed education.

Racism in the military:

Three fourths of African Americans and two thirds of Mexican Americans in the military reported being the subjects of racially offensive behavior.

Sexism in the Military:

Ninety percent of all females reported harrassment and one out of three reported being raped. Twenty percent were denied raises because they refused to provide sexual favors.

Gays in the Military:

There were 871 documented cases of military gay harrassment in 2001.

More is available over at South Bay Mobilization where it discusses the plight of many veterans, budget cuts to veteran's benefits, their exposure to depleted uranium that has so contaminated their battlefields, hazardous vaccines required, like Botulinum Pentavalent, an unproven and unlicensed vaccine in the U.S.

So if Cody James feels badly he didn't get to speak with a "career opportunist" on campus, maybe he should make the effort to seek one out downtown by the post office, or look for one of those flashy military "adventure vans" travelling around the country luring youths into a road show of multimedia glitz complete with helicopter flight simulators and state of the art video war games. In that high schools and universities are populated by young, impressionable folks, let's preserve our high school and university campuses for their intended purposes: to educate our youth with the truth sans military slicksters armed with propaganda and half-truths, desperate to fill their monthly live body quotas!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had been wondering about that final observation of the disappointed student. Thank you for a complete, well thought-out response as to why we don't need military recruiters on campus. Some of their more deplorable targeting practices were shown in Farenheit 911. And I bet anything the pro-warcrime faction felt their prayers had been answered when rain reduced the number of student protestors.

These Santa Cruz students give me hope more Americans will see the value of protest. Can you stand a Jacob Bronowski quote? "There has never been a society which has died of dissent, but several that have died of conformity just in our lifetime. Dissent is native to man & has got him into a good deal of trouble, but if it is cut off, what is left will not be man."

Ok, I'll hobble down from the soapbox now (damn pulled calf muscle). D.K.

Nina said...

Hey! I get my war protests after all. Let's hope this war doesn't end before i can go off and help create dissention in the masses.

Krammer said...

While I will agre with you there are lots of things that need improvement, th G.I bill was great for me. It help me purchase my first home and provided me with a great military education

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