About 15 students gathered outside the Third Annual Diversity Career Fair at Corwin Pavilion yesterday to protest the presence of the Marine Corps and military weapons manufacturers.
The protesters – who hailed from such groups as Queer Student Union, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Solidarity Against War – complained that the military and its related industries came to the event specifically to target minority students and those from low-income families. UCSB Counseling & Career Services arranged the fair primarily for students from underrepresented groups on campus.
“Our goal is to educate people,” said Tanya Paperny, a fourth-year women’s studies and history major. “We want people to realize their options, that there are better options for people of color than just the military.”
The protestors set up a table outside the fair to distribute pamphlets listing their reasons for demonstrating. The pamphlets included descriptions of the protestors’ opposition to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military.
Paperny said the demonstrators did not want to disrupt the fair altogether, but instead were hoping to inform students that several of the visiting companies present at the fair had substantial ties to the U.S. military – such as Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman and Hughes Research Laboratories.
According to the Counseling & Career Services website, the Diversity Career Fair was open to all UCSB students interested in learning about career options, but those from underrepresented groups were especially encouraged to attend.
Director of Career Services Micael Kemp said that she appreciated the student organizers’ professionalism and politeness in planning and executing their demonstration.
“I think it’s great that they are protesting and I respect their right to do that,” said Kemp. “It’s our job to provide employment for students, and students want all kinds of jobs, whether it’s the Marines or the Peace Corps. We just help make that connection, and we try to be value-free in terms of making judgments about where students should be.”
Inside the fair, Capt. Rosanna Reyes and other representatives of the U.S. Marine Corps continued to advertise their Officer Candidate School, a program that Reyes said has been popular with UCSB students in the past.
“We are not recruiters,” Reyes said. “We are on officer selection team here to talk to qualified students who wish to serve as Marine Corps officers.”
Peter Thermos, a graduating student of the Officer Candidate School, said participating in the program offered him the opportunity to consider a career in the military without the pressure of joining an ROTC program.
“It allowed me to experience what life in the military is like without any obligation to join,” said Thermos, a fourth year geography and law & society major. “It gives people the chance to explore their options. I made the choice to join, and when I graduate I’ll be starting as a second lieutenant. It’s a great way to jump start your career.”
UCSB student groups have a history of fighting military recruitment on campus, including an attempt by the Associated Students Student Commission on Racial Equality to ban recruiters from UCSB’s campus in 2005 due to “anti-homosexual policies.”
According to Executive Director of the Academic Senate Claudia Chapman, the resolution banning the military presence was withdrawn after the Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment in 2005, which allows the Secretary of Defense to deny federal funding to universities that prohibit ROTC programs or military recruitment on campus.
Paperny said since then, student groups have fought to maintain an open dialogue about the military’s presence at UCSB.
“We can’t tell people what diversity is, but hopefully we will continue the conversation about military recruiters on campus,” she said.