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Students Kick Military Recruiters off UC Santa Cruz
Students Kick Military Recruiters Off UC Santa Cruz
SANTA CRUZ, CA – It’s been over a year and a half since the military has been able to effectively recruit on this UC campus as all their attempts have been met by mass student actions. Today, in spite of the pouring rain and administrative attempts to stifle students’ free speech, Students Against War (SAW) organized over 150 students to march from the center of campus to the job fair, where they nonviolently prevented access to military recruiters through sit-ins and other measures. After about an hour and a half of negotiations and students’ refusal to back down, military recruiters left the job fair.
The students’ first victory appeared early in the day, as administrators separated military recruiters from other employers, allowing the protesters to block access to the military, while the remainder of the job fair continued. This separation was the only one of SAW’s proposals for protecting free speech to be adopted by administrators, who still banned media from the event.
The successful protest was also significant in light of the fact that University administrators hired, at great cost to the school, a number of police from other UC campuses. These police, local officers, and a top local official, physically assaulted multiple students without provocation and repeatedly refused to provide identification when requested. Students were pushed, punched, choked, and a student’s hand was slammed in a door. One student, acting as a legal observer, was pushed and arrested for documenting police surveillance, but was released after an immediate display of student support. The student may face charges in the future, which SAW intends to vehemently resist. In the face of administrative and police repression the students remained remarkably peaceful.
The action stressed the importance of connecting the complexities of the “War on Terror,” continued military occupations, and government neglect of communities at home. Students also emphasized solidarity with labor struggles, immigrants’ rights, the fight against the privatization of education, and numerous other movements. In order to directly highlight the sexism inherent in the military, a group of female students directly confronted the recruiters. This was a result of consistent student-initiated negotiations with administrators. The action proved to be a key moment, as military recruiters left quickly after the women entered.
In response to the victory, SAW member Sam Aranke responded, “Our demonstration today is a clear example of how tangible success can be when we take strategic actions against the war at a local level. It’s not just about the action today, it’s about creating sustained movements that directly resist the militarization of our communities.”