All I wanted was a Jamba Juice. However, my normally easy trek to the UCen was hampered by the presence of three beefy men in military gear last Thursday. I quickly lost my appetite for sweet smoothie goodness as I uneasily made my way past a group of über-macho acting men competing in a pull-up challenge sponsored by campus military recruiters and sighed at yet another manifestation of the increasingly militarized state of our nation.
With the U.S. government’s “war on terrorism” and the resulting growing need for military recruits, it’s no wonder that recruiters for the Marines, ROTC and other military branches have had to resort to sexy tactics to appeal to the young population. These tactics range from last Thursday’s spectacle of hypermasculinity to guarantees of flight training, educational compensation and a coveted position with “the few, the proud.” With the growing bombardment of military messages we face – on campus, in newspapers, on television and rappelling down Storke Tower – it becomes vital for us to deconstruct the propaganda and educate ourselves on the real issues.
First, it is necessary to see past the guising rhetoric found throughout military propaganda in the form of words like “honor,” “discipline” and “adventure.” Let us not forget that, above all else, the military is an institution with the sole purpose of preparing for and fighting wars. Simply put, military recruits literally sign over their lives to follow orders in a process of kill or be killed.
In closely examining the military institution as a whole, we can easily find that it is dependent not only on war, but also on discrimination. Under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender service members are allowed to serve only if they don’t do or say anything that reveals their sexual identities. In other words, under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the military can lawfully discharge members based on sexual or gender identity. This outright discriminatory practice leads me to one question: Why do we allow military recruiters on our campus? The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy discriminates against the LGBT and queer community, thus making the military a discriminatory institution. The presence of military recruiters on our campus is in direct violation of UC nondiscrimination policy.
It is for these reasons and more that Associated Students Student Commission on Racial Equality (SCORE) is organizing a campaign to “Recruit to Education, Not War.” One of the goals of this campaign is to bar military recruiters from campus on the basis that it is a discriminatory institution that creates an unsafe campus climate for LGBT and queer students. Everyone is encouraged to participate in our action today at 1:15 p.m. at Storke Plaza. We will be marching to the ROTC offices to present the current proposed Academic Senate resolution to bar military recruiters from campus along with a list of student organization endorsements of the proposition. Here we will also have student, professor and community member speakers addressing the current militarized state of our nation and the growing U.S. military presence globally. The purpose of the action is to educate students about the U.S. military and encourage student participation in the upcoming military recruitment town hall meeting this Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in the McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020). This meeting will provide a space for the UCSB community to discuss the proposed Academic Senate resolution.
The military institution is something that affects all of us – whether it manifests itself in a lost appetite for Jamba Juice, decreased financial aid because of war costs, or an unsafe campus climate because of the presence of military recruiters. We must all educate ourselves on the military and make our voices heard at today’s action and at Wednesday’s town hall meeting. For more information on how to get involved in the “Recruit to Education, Not War” campaign, e-mail UCSB_SCORE@yahoo.com.
Katie Joaquin is a co-chair of A.S. Student Commission on Racial Equality (SCORE).