Santa Cruz, CA: Students Confront Military Recruiters at Career FairApril 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Counter-recruitment, Students | Leave a comment
Admin’s note: Students Against War (SAW) is a fantastic organization with a solid track record. SDS and the rest of the antiwar movement would do well to strive to live up to their example.
Students protest military recruiters at UCSC career fair
By J.M. BROWN – Sentinel Staff Writer
SANTA CRUZ – Performing a spoof on TV award shows, a dozen students opposed to military recruiters disrupted a UC Santa Cruz career fair Tuesday, giving Marine and Army officers certificates for being “the best manipulator of sexuality” and telling “the most lies in advertising.”
The Students Against War demonstration, which followed a rally and march of 100 activists, was tame compared to a 2005 clash that led UCSC to close the event. No injuries were reported and no arrests were made Tuesday.
Despite the interruption and occasionally tense one-on-one questioning from activist students, four Marines and Army Health Care Team members who staffed two recruitment tables stayed for the four-hour fair at the University Center, where 90 organizations and companies met with about 800 students and alumni for the Last Chance Job Fair. UCSC staff and campus police monitored events, but did not interfere.
Demonstrations against military recruitment put UCSC in the middle of a tug of war over competing rights. The university is obligated to facilitate safe access for students to meet with Armed Services members, who are legally due access to campus under a law governing institutions that receive federal funding.
But UCSC must also balance access concerns with a duty to allow nonviolent student protests protected by free-speech rights, and contends if military recruiters leave the fair, even voluntarily, the campus has to shut down the event to maintain the equal-access provision.
“Career fairs are an important ingredient in our service to students,” said spokesman Barry Shiller. “We’re gratified that today’s fair remained open.”
Marine Capt. Brian A. Lionbarger said he stuck around because students wanted to meet with him and demonstrators did not make threatening remarks. When activists criticized military policies, he said he told them “this was not the venue for us to get into certain topics” unrelated to recruitment.
Konstanty Hordynski, a fourth-year environmental studies and politics major and spokesman for Students Against War, said the group did not intend to keep students from talking to military officials or to shut down the event. Rather, he said the aim was “to make recruitment hard and send a message that military recruiters aren’t welcome here.”
Students Against War has disrupted three recruitment efforts since it formed in 2005. Four Army and National Guard recruiters left the 2005 fair with a police escort after demonstrators blocked the entrance.
Last year, activists celebrated when military recruiters chose not to attend after university officials were warned of a large protest in the works.
Tuesday, Hordynski said, “We did everything we wanted to do. We had a pretty clear message and kept the tone upbeat while being pretty poignant in delivering that message.”
Students Against War claims the U.S. occupation of Iraq is illegal, and say the military recruits from poor communities of color by offering college tuition and career stability. The group is also opposed to the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy regarding gay, lesbian and bisexual troops – which Hordynski said “violates the principles of community” that define UCSC.
Rita McKeon, a first-year community studies student, said she believes the Iraq conflict is an “unjust war and I don’t want my friends recruited for it.”
Toting signs that read “shut down the war machine” and “no blood for oil,” students rallied at Quarry Plaza before marching to the beat of paint-can drums. They continued the protest outside University Center, where a dozen activists entered using student IDs and demonstrated briefly in front of military, police and Peace Corps tables.
In a mock awards ceremony, students clapped as they satirically “honored” the military for committing what they described as discrimination and aggressive recruitment.
Lionbarger said, “I take it with a grain of salt… It’s not going to affect my view about what I believe about the military.”
Dressed in a charcoal gray suit, blue shirt and silver tie, fourth-year psychology major Matthew Holkeboer came to the fair to make a good impression on nonprofit agencies, but ended up shouting over what he called the “annoying” protesters. Although he said he supported students’ right to demonstrate, he said, “I feel like I’m crossing a picket line. I can’t even hear.” [Admin’s note: That’s because you ARE crossing a picket line, scab.]
Contact J.M. Brown at 429-2410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Mercury News