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Students, Community, Resist Military Recruitment at UCSC

On April 13, 2004, the United States military, invited by the administration at the University of California, Santa Cruz descended upon the Last Chance Job and Internship Fair. The Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force joined the Border Patrol and the CA Dept. of Corrections to try and seduce college students looking for money for college and job training. This accounts a student organizer's perspective, detailing the annual recruiter visit and subsequent annual student actions.

At the entrance to the building we had half a dozen large posters with statistics talking about discrimination (75% of blacks and 67% of Latinos report racially offensive behavior), rape (1/3 of women in the military get raped), money for college (less than half get any), and of course the 'No War for Empire' and 'Hell No, We Won't Go' to satisfy the radical nature of some of the coalition members.

Administration pressure, you ask? It started with when we were setting up our posters and were told that we couldn't give speeches outside because it was not a "free speech zone". We were also told that we couldn't put our flyers up on the stucco building because we didn't have a permit. We were asked twice by two different officials from that area of the university to not put our posters on the stucco, but we mostly ignored them.

Audio from portland imc: No Recruitment in Public Schools
6142-8 UCSC Josh+ CounterR 6x J150 small.JPG
All photos (c) Bob Fitch Photo
_www.bobfitchphoto.com

During UC Santa Cruz’s Hate/Bias week, the U.S. military and it’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy visited campus. However, with a throng of military recruiters and young job seeking students, more than a dozen students and community members at UC Santa Cruz attempted to show the true picture of the military – to talk about the poverty draft – to dispel the myths that recruiters push out there – to show that most people don’t get what their promised by the recruiters.

With the goal of informing their fellow students, activists worked alongside counselors and veterans from the Resource Center for Nonviolence to pass out two important documents:

* The Enlistment Agreement - shows that the military can't make any promises 'cus anything can change at any time without notice to the enlistee. Also shows that it's an 8-year gig.

* Financing College Without Joining the Military (a flyer from CCCO) - people aren't joining to kill or be killed - they're joining for money for college, job training, and traveling around the world. This flyer refutes the military's claims for '$50,000 for college', showing that more than half of enlistees get no money.

We also talked about jobs (how most people don’t get any job training that is useful in their future careers). By taking a poverty draft approach to our actions, we focused on giving students the facts so that rather than preaching' to the choir, we're actually informing those students that are having hard times - showing' them that there are better options than the military.

At the entrance to the building we had half a dozen large posters with statistics talking about discrimination (75% of blacks and 67% of Latinos report racially offensive behavior), rape (1/3 of women in the military get raped), money for college (less than half get any), and of course the 'No War for Empire' and 'Hell No, We Won't Go' to satisfy the radical nature of some of the coalition members.

There was also a list of every U.S. soldier that has died in the war (on more than two dozen sheets of paper taped together) on the side wall that everyone had to walk by to get in.

A broad base of students helped out from some of the major players in the Campus Democrats (Kerry supporters and believe that the military is needed), to many of the radicals that form the base of activism at UC Santa Cruz, as well as a pro-Israel organizer. The wide variety of student organizers

The GLBTI Center had a table in front of the building as well, staffed by a vet that got out on a CO discharge as well as some of our GLBT members of the community. Some materials were there, but counselors held others.

The counselors from the Resource Center for Nonviolence (including one vet in his U.S. Navy blues) and a few students stayed outside to make sure everyone that went in the building (hundreds of students) got the facts. Meanwhile, I went inside with another organizer. We stood at a little distance from the military recruitment tables, all of them set up right next to each other - the recruiters having friendly chats with the Border Patrol as well as the UCSC students that are in the military that came out to show support for them (there were two - both Marines).

We waited respectfully while students spoke with the recruiters and eventually signed up to receive more information, just so that they could get their key chain or pen that they wanted (there were quite a few scavengers that went through the job fair). Once the students were done talking to the recruiters, I or my buddy would walk up to them and give them the Enlistment Agreement, showing them what they'd eventually have to sign, and giving them more information about what it REALLY means to join the military (money for college, job training). This worked very well. We got about an hour of that in before the campus administration started to pressure us further.

Administration pressure, you ask? It started with when we were setting up our posters and were told that we couldn't give speeches outside because it was not a "free speech zone". We were also told that we couldn't put our flyers up on the stucco building because we didn't have a permit. We were asked twice by two different officials from that area of the university to not put our posters on the stucco, but we mostly ignored them.

While we were inside in front of the recruitment tables, the woman in charge of the Job Fair, a woman who is pro-military and has a history of opposition to counter-recruitment actions (she claims that we'll 'scare away employers') spoke to myself and the other organizer, telling us that we did not pay, like the military did, to have space inside the building and that we were not able to hand out brochures. We remarked that in fact, we had paid more than the military to have my freedom of speech, considering that we pay over $5,000 a quarter to attend the university. She told us to leave repeatedly, threatening to call judicial affairs (they're the people that suspend and expel students) - we stood our ground and said that we were going to stay inside until that person showed up. It turned out that judicial affairs wasn't even on campus that day, so we got a good hour of speaking to students who were generally interested in the military before the administration woman brought in two police officers. They escorted myself and the other organizer outside of the building to have a "chat". I engaged in a lengthy conversation, being interrupted repeatedly, and was told that OUR building on OUR campus was private property because it was rented out by OUR career center and corporations. They mentioned that if we re-entered the building to flyer, we would be arrested under charges of trespassing.

At that point, we figured that we’d achieve more flyering outside of the building than being in jail, so we abided by their threat, after they copied down our information to put in their report.

Overall, a very good day! Solid counter-recruitment work done with a broad coalition, hitting up the very important poverty draft issues. It’s great to see how many of our peers we were able to dissuade from joining the military – that’s the thing about this work – everyone knows at least one person who is thinking about joining or has already joined, and you can see the impact of your work directly.

Until next year!

Josh Sonnenfeld
UC Santa Cruz

All photos (c) Bob Fitch Photo
_www.bobfitchphoto.com
6142-14 UCSC Josh+Cop CounterR 6x j150 small.JPG
6142-20 UCSC Josh+Cop CountR 6x j150 small.JPG
 
 


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Comments

Utopian Goofball Comes Up Empty

Nice try down at the recruitment fair. Your efforts have accomplished nothing. Moreover, you proved yourself to be a complete spineless chicken. You "mostly ignored" a woman staffer but became a quivering bowl of jello when the cop arrived.

You are a spineless banana slug. Whatever happened to the old UC Santa Cruz?
 

Re: Utopian Goofball Comes up Empty

Newt, if that's what you want us to call you, I'm a little dissapointed in your comment. The fact is that we considered arrest and decided against it because the purpose of our actions were not symbolic - it was very practical.

There were students there that were generally interested in joining the military, based on the misconceptions that recruiters push out there (money for college, job training, no combat, etc.) What kind of impact would it have had if we were all arrested? There wouldn't be anyone (or enough people) to ensure that the students coming in actually new the truth about military recruitment.

Arrests would show our opposition to fascism, imperialism, and the military industrial complex, but it wouldn't reach out to the students who are seriously thinking about the military as an option for them.

We managed to fend of administrative action for long enough to really make sure that most every student who checked out the military recruitment tables also got a bit of the truth from us.

Direct action hasn't and will never be tossed out as an option - it can be very valuable - but with our numbers, we wouldn't be able to sustain it long enough to ensure that no one would be able to get to the recruitment tables. Plus that ignores the important fact that we are trying to reach out to our Slug brothers and sisters who are generally good people, but have just seen too many recruitment ads.

One other clarification for the SC Indymedia folk - we aren't connected with the Youth Coalition at RCNV, although they're a good group.

Thanks for your comments, Newt. In solidarity as always,

Josh
 

Re: Students, Community, Resist Military Recruitment at UCSC

education is a tool that should be used to end exploitation and militarism.more power to you josh,shalom
 

Re: Students, Community, Resist Military Recruitment at UCSC

Congrats! to the Youth Action Coalition for their balsy confrontation of the military recruiters on campus. I have three children and didn't raise any of them to be cannon fodder, so I dearly appreciate the efforts of these well-informed activists to educate young and vulnerable UCSC students about the realities of military service.

I do think the USA does need a military to defend our borders, but pre-emptive military strikes against foreign countries that don't threaten us violates this cherised precept. Bombing civilian populations from 30,000 feet (like Clinton did in Yugoslavia) also shows our lack of adherence to real defensive goals of a strong military.

One more comment on UCSC: I am appalled how they claim UCSC is private property when it is owned by the State of California. This is one campus where you can get arrested for tresspassing if you don't have their permission to be up there registering voters, flyering, or tabling. I have been threatened with arrest for handing out flyers inside events that were free and open to the public ---- a clear violation of the constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition government grievances.

I urge every activist who goes up on UCSC to continue to assert our right to be there and to engage in free speech activities, using non-violent non-cooperation techniques.
 

Re: Students, Community, Resist Military Recruitment at UCSC

Are the students at Santa Cruz for diversity or not? Apparently they want people to look different but all think the same.
 

Re: Students, Community, Resist Military Recruitment at UCSC

Keep up the great work! It is so very important to reach out to young peole with the truth. Young people will be ones who fight the wars of Corporate Politicians. My oldest brother Joseph ledesma, Jr. was killed in combat in Vietnam in 1967. He was drafted while enrolled in College and killed in Vietnam at age of 20. I was 13 years old. Now 37 years later there is serious talk about reinsituting the Draft. I applaud your work and encourage you to continue your efforts to work toward a World or Peace and Justice. -David Ledesma, San Jose, CA.
 

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