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Chapel Hill Students Demand

Military Recruiters Out Now

by Eric Gardner |
November 23, 2006
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Students protesting military recruitment on campus
(Fight Back! News/Staff)
Students march against military recruitment on campus
Students march against military recruitment on campus

Chapel Hill, NC - Chants of, “Out of Iraq, out of our schools!” rose above the noise of afternoon traffic as protesters marched to Chapel Hill’s new Army Career Center on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Led by UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, the group of about 50 marchers was joined by another several dozen protesters at the recruiting station. Demonstrators held a rally and a press conference condemning the war against Iraq and the predatory tactics of military recruiters.

“The military has come to Chapel Hill because they are desperate for more young people to continue occupying Iraq. They will do anything to get the next recruit,” said Ben Carrol, member of UNC-Chapel Hill SDS. “In recent years Pell Grants and other programs that help low-income youth attend college have been drastically slashed while the military budget has gone through the roof. As the federal government cuts off the means for low-income students to attend college, the military's recruiting budget has skyrocketed to over $4 billion. Coincidence? I don’t think so.”

Emily McFarlane, a member of SDS and UNC-CH's Feminist Students United, spoke about the special threat that military recruiters presented to women and people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. “The evidence of military and military recruiter violence against women is staggering,” McFarlane said. “Recruiters are assaulting women at an overwhelming rate. Since 1996, 722 army recruiters have been accused of rape or sexual misconduct. Last year alone over 100 women, mostly high school students, reported that they were raped by military recruiters trying to persuade them to enlist. This is not a case of a few bad apples - sexism and sexual violence are an integral part of the U.S. military.”

McFarlane also spoke about the military’s ‘don't-ask-don't-tell’ policy: “Why should we allow military recruiters on our campus in blatant violation of our own university’s non-discrimination policies? We do not want our women subjected to sexual violence. We do not want our young men turned into instruments of sexual violence. We want every person valued and protected from violence and discrimination. So what do we do? Refuse to be a part of the military, a system that normalizes sexism, heterosexism and sexual violence. Refuse the presence of a recruiting station that enlists young men and women to continue these horrific trends. Military recruiters out now.”

The demonstrators were not fazed by the group of about ten war supporters who had gathered at the station, even when the small group began hurling insults and threats. Meanwhile, a team of police officers looked on and grinned, clearly waiting for a fight that would give them a reason to shut down the demonstration. In spite of these attacks, the protesters continued their rally, finishing with a declaration that this action would not be the last, saying that they were committed to opposing the recruiters wherever they went until the station is shut down.

UNC Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society and its allies have joined a growing movement across the country to stop the war in Iraq where it starts, by opposing military recruiters on the ground. By slowing or stopping the flow of new recruits into the U.S. military, anti-war activists in the U.S. can do a great deal to undermine the occupation of Iraq. While the politicians in Washington may not listen to protests or votes, they will have no choice but to withdraw when they run out of soldiers to fight and die in their criminal wars for profit in the Middle East.