Friday, October 28, 2005

Military Recruiters Return to SFSU

Last year recruiters from the Air Force OTC and the Army Corps of Engineers decided to attend a career fair held on the campus of San Francisco State. Dozens of students turned out to protest the recruiters presence on campus and I had the chance to film the protest which resulted in the school filing disciplinary action against numerous student groups and individual organizers.

Yesterday, the Marines showed up to the career fair, and faced with threats of disciplinary action, the students at SAW came up with an interesting approach to protest the recruiters and ensure that no students would join at the fair.

During the entire duration of the career fair from 11AM-3PM, student activists waited in line to speak with the recruiters. Most students chose to focus their discussions with the recruiters around military policy which discriminates against gays and lesbians and conflicts directly with the school's anti-discrimination policies. Other students focused on the alarming incidence of sexual assault amongst females in the military and still others focused on the death toll in Iraq and attempted to remind the recruiters of the potential consequences of their actions.

Police presence at the career fair was especially heavy, with over a half-dozen officers monitoring the student activists. While the conversations with the recruiters did focus on sensitive issues, both the students and Marines acted in a polite and restrained manner and the cops did not intervene at any point.

Although a few students appeared to actually be interested in signing up for Marines, they were forced to wait in a very long line to talk to the recruiters and were exposed to the issues SAW sought to address while they waited.

In what seems like the administrations ongoing attempts to curtail free speech, students entering the career fair were not only required to show their student identification, they were also required to surrender their ID during their visit to the career fair. When asked about this unconventional policy, a worker at the fair told me it was for "security." After a follow-up question, she told me that there were protestors at the fair and the school needed to know exactly who was at the fair. Not only is this policy intimidating and contributes to a lack of privacy, but also threatens to create a chilling effect on free speech and should not continue.

I shot some video footage with my digital camera, but the sound is terrible. I might edit something together over the weekend, then again, I might not...

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