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UCSC Military Recruitment Debate Reportback
by bob fitch (photos) & josh sonnenfeld (words)
Saturday Feb 11th, 2006 4:32 PM
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, UCSC's Colleges 9 and 10 hosted a tightly-controlled debate on the issue of military recruitment. The two speakers were William Griffin, in charge of Army recruitment for the Monterey Bay area, and Mario Ramirez Hardy, a long-time counter-recruitment organizer and GI Rights Hotline counselor.
The issue of military recruitment at UC Santa Cruz and in the community as a whole has been prominent for years. Due to creative student protests, all branch of the military have been prevented from any form of recruiting on campus for more than a year. After multiple successful local campaigns, the majority of Santa Cruz County high school parents have opted their children out of contact lists sent to recruiters. Santa Cruz County now has the lowest recruitment rate in the state of California.

On Wednesday night, Colleges 9 and 10 organized a debate on the issue of military recruitment. William Griffin, the top dog for Army recruitment in the area, faced off against Mario Ramirez Hardy, who has been helping GIs get out of the military for over a decade, in addition to a wide array of counter-recruitment activities.

The night was very tightly controlled by Colleges 9 and 10 (c9/10) staff, headed by Wendy Baxter, and moderated by Professor Paul Roth. There were fears of protests from students, possibly by Students Against War (SAW), as military recruiters are known not to be welcome. Due to these fears, c9/10 staff taped a 'do not cross' line on the ground outside the Multi-Purpose Room, where the debate was held. Protesters and leafletters were not to cross the line. Nonetheless, important flyers found their way in the hands of almost all the student attendees. No protests were planned, as no military recruitment was to take place.

During the debate, Mario Ramirez Hardy and William Griffin calmly answered a few questions that they had received before hand. Students with questions were asked to write them on cards, which Roth and Baxter screened. No questions relating to foreign policy were allowed. Due to all these restrictions, the debate wasn't overly exciting, although there was a good deal of information presented.

Mario Ramirez Hardy systematically dispelled the myths about military recruitment - using facts provided from military or governmental sources. He spoke about how military recruiters, under the enlistment agreement (see: can change anything at any time, with or without notice to the enlistee (i.e. recruiters can't make any promises). He noted that 57% of enlistees don't get a dime for college, that 90% of women in the military reported harassment (1/3 of which were raped), the high rates of discrimination against people of color, and the violent heterosexism and homophobia of the military, seen by their 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy and the consistent harassment of enlistees found to be queer. These statistics were backed up by more than a decade of personal experiences counseling GIs.

William Griffin, the Army recruiter, attempted to claim that 'statistics can be made to say anything,' although did not address the fact that these statistics were from the military and government themselves. He attempted to appeal to people's assumed nationalism - suggesting that the military is there to defend freedom. Many students rolled their eyes with these remarks, as the Pentagon was recently found to be spying on UCSC students, directly threatening these freedoms that they claim to protect. Griffin further claimed that the military 'treats everyone the same' and protects enlistees from physical harm. However, he did not have any statistics to back his claims, except for the one time that he claimed over 100% of enlistees receive something.. making many students scratching their heads at how anyone could arrive at more than 100%. Overall though, Griffin was very calm and composed, with slick answers for all the questions - just like a recruitment commercial.

On the hot topic of a possible military recruitment ban from campus, Griffin relied on the Solomon Amendment, a federal bill which threatens to take away university funding if they don't allow recruiters. He consistently claimed that the military just does what they're told - including discriminating against queers and women (as Hardy added). In contrast, Hardy suggested that students and communities should have the right to determine who visits their schools and that if they wanted to ban military recruiters, no one should stand in their way.

Once the debate was over, students clapped (the first time they were allowed to all night - except for one impromptu clapping for Hardy) and a few milled around to talk to the speakers, but most walked home with some questions answered, but many more remaining.

While the debate was not riddled with excitement, its existence signified the growth of UCSC's counter-recruitment movement and the prominance of the issue on campus, as the event was completely organized by college officials, not activists. It offered an opportunity for a wider audience to inform themselves on some of the issues related to military recruitment, which will hopefully transfer into more solidarity with counter-recruitment actions and campaigns in the future. It should also lead to a greater ability for student attendees (many of which were from SAW) to break down the fallacious arguments widely circulated by military recruiters - or 'salesmen' as Hardy called them.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by William Scott
Sunday Feb 12th, 2006 2:34 PM
Time for a mandatory draft with no exemptions. That's zero. Men and women. Hetero, bi-, homo-, pan- sexual, any race, any number of dependents, all senators' sons and daughters, all Bush and Cheney relatives. They all get to go. It is time to end the economic draft and institute a fair one. Then maybe the supplicants in Congress will think twice before authorizing the next crusade.
by CPT Will Griffin
Thursday Feb 16th, 2006 9:17 AM
Bob, Josh- thanks for covering the debate. Just wanted to clear up a couple of things: The remark I made about something over 100% did not refer to enlistment or benefits. I was talking about re-enlistment rates for Soldiers on active duty. The Army achieved over 100% of its re-enlistment goal for last year.

When the question "what right does the military have to recruit on campus" came up, I did mention the Solomon amendment. It's the law- which is what we (the Army) have to follow. I also said that the Army does not make public policy- your elected officials do! Everyone 18 and over has the right to vote, and if you don't- shame on you.

I would like to say this: I certainly appreciated the courtesy afforded all who attended and participated. Some may have been disappointed that there was not more controversy, but I think the format and questions were appropriate for the forum.

I had the chance to speak with Mario before and after the debate. He's a great guy and has done great things in a lot of areas. Obviously we don't agree on everything, but I respect his views and willingness to speak out for what he believes.

I have four months left in my current position as commander of the Monterey Bay Recruiting Company and then I will return to my regular Army field- logistics. I will certainly miss this area- and the people I have met over my two years here.
by The Cenobyte
Wednesday Apr 12th, 2006 12:01 PM
So much for staying unbias. It's obvious that you have your opinion it's just to bad that your meathod of transfering knoledge only turns off those of us that just want facts.
by Brian The Not So Great
Thursday Apr 13th, 2006 7:20 PM
1/3rd of the women in the armed forces raped?

Well let's say the DOD and the Coast Guard don't count. As of Sept. 2003, how many women were serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines?

I tallied 213,149. So, if 1/3rd of those women have been raped, presumably by fellow male soldiers, this means over 70,000 rapes of current American Military female personnel.

Sir, that is an epidemic. A crime wave. A HUGE CRIME WAVE. If one in three women in the military has been raped, this is really important news. It means the United States Military is CHOCK FULL OF RAPISTS.

What can we do to solve the problem of 1/3rd of the current female military personnel being raped?

No no, don't strain your brain. I have several things that might work:

1. A switch to an all female military. Does that solve the problem of males raping female soldiers? Why...YES! I belive it does! But is it practical?

2. A switch to an all male military. Does this solve the problem of males raping female soldiers? Why....YES, again! It would solve the problem of males raping female soldiers! (Males raping males however, is not addressed under this solution!)

3. Not having a military at all. Does this solve the problem of male soldiers raping female soldiers? YES...again! I'm batting 1.000 here! All three of my solutions would work! Unfortunately, without a military all those rapists currently in uniform would be circulating among us. Is that really a good idea? And with no military, the United States is defenseless if some country that wishes it ill, like lets say a nuclear capable Iran, decides to attack.

So far I have 3 solutions that would work to solve the rape problem but there are practical drawbacks to each.

Oh, wait, I just thought of a fourth solution:

4. Internet software that keeps people from pulling statistics out of their ass. Would that solve this particular claim that 1/3rd of the active duty military girls out there have been raped by their fellow soldiers? Why, YES, I believe it would!

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