Military recruitment

By Patricia Bass

This week, Santa Cruz students, like Macalester students have done in the past, protested the presence of military recruiters on campus. Arguing that violent and discriminatory employers are not welcome on their campus, Students Against War (SAW) conducted a peaceful protest and confrontation with the recruiters who were at their campus job fair. In response, students met with rough treatment by campus police and suspension issued by the UCSC president, Robert Corrigan.

The Santa Cruz student group presents a strong argument for wanting the private space of their community to demonstrate their intolerance for violent, racist, and sexist institutions. By accommodating military recruiters, campuses show passive acceptance of the discrimination of the military and the violence and imperialism for which the army stands.

It may seem hypocritical for students advocating progressive ideals to bar the free speech and presence of an employer on campus. It may also seem hypocritical for these students to want to restrict their campus from people with differing viewpoints, effectively turning what is often thought of as public space into a restrictive private space.

However, as wonderful as public space is, and as desirable as it is to think that campus is an area of freedom for the entire community, not just students, that is just not the case. Not only by private property laws do we fund the institution that owns the land, but by merit of our utility of the space, campus belongs to us. We, as a community of students and faculty, should have sovereignty over where we work and live, and our space should reflect our values.

According to a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court on March 6, if a school does not allow military recruiters on campus because of their “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, it can risk losing federal funding.

The government asserting their right to free speech within our space would not be so odious—after all, they are a partial owner of schools as well—if they did not oppress ours. In Santa Cruz, the university hired police from other UC campuses who physically assaulted students without provocation and refused to provide identification upon repeated request, according to SAW. If they want to be able to express their objectionable views, we should too—without the risk of expulsion and violence.

Contact Patricia Bass ’08 at [email protected]