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Activism

Uncle Sam wants you bad
Preventing the militarization of our schools


Payam Shahfari
May 1, 2007
iranian.com

As a student at California State University, Fullerton, I along with many other students, have become alert and disturbed by the extent to which the presence of Army Recruiters has increased on our campus, and more so to the lack of resistance against such activities.

Since the passing of the Solomon Amendment in 1996 and the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Military has been given complete access to public education campuses regardless of opposition from school administrators and local communities.  The government has simply left two options for public schools; either, allow for the presence of military recruiters on campus, or have all federal funding cut. As we see it, there is only one way to terminate the presence of the military from campus grounds; to have them leave on their own due to lack of recruits.

We founded the organization, Students for Peace and Social Justice, at CSU Fullerton, which includes many committees dedicated to several tasks.  We are primarily dedicated to the task of generating a Pro-Peace (Anti-War) movement as well as Counter-Recruitment activities in our immediate community, and Orange County in general. We have so far managed to bring together and mobilize most progressive organizations on our campus, with a consensus of battling the systematic militarization of our school.

We are currently in the final stages of organizing a rally on our campus against the war and the Army recruiters.  We have chosen May 10th (a Thursday) for carrying out this rally and demonstration, because the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is conducting a major exhibit on our campus, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (1). As we have discovered, the ROTC is bringing in thousands of high school students onto our campus, who not surprisingly happen to be predominantly young Latinos. The Army's efforts are solely for the purpose of recruitment, rather than an introduction to the educational programs of the university.  For this reason, CSUF administrators are having second thoughts about permitting such an exhibit to take place.  

Since the ROTC is required, by policy, to provide opportunities for students to become aware of college education and its offerings and not just opportunities in the military, the ROTC is planning on displaying a table with informational brochures about education and school programs. This table will be stationed amongst major military displays such as; army vehicles, video games, truck cinemas, complete with exotic women encouraging high school students to enlist.  The ROTC exhibit on May 10th will supposedly be one of the largest Army Recruitment events of the year, perhaps the larges in California.

We have contacted military families as well as Iraq War Veterans, who are willing to speak out, during the rally against war and militarization of schools.  Other community organizations outside of our campus, including those dedicated to non-violence and civil disobedience (CAMS, MFSO, Iraq Veterans Against War, AFSC-Quakers, OC Peace Coalition, Code Pink, Gold Star Families, OC Green Party and many others), will also be attending the rally.  Some of these organizations from Los Angeles, Santa Barbra, and other parts of Orange County, will be there to express their opposition.

As we have become witness to the extensive military presence and their displays on our campus, we cannot help but notice the similarities in acts of militarization reminiscent of the fascist military parades orchestrated by Nazi Germany and Communist Russia.  This form of indoctrinating the youth must be resisted at all levels of society. Due to its nature, militarization of educational institutions is the most blemishing and poisonous element of any state's effort to safeguard its highly functional Military Industrial Complex.  For the U.S. government, it is more vital to protect this evil complex than to educate the masses through affordable and quality public education.

This is not a theory. It is in fact proven, by implementation, at our school campus.  One perfect example is that our campus is currently suffering from lack of class rooms, buildings and qualified professors, simply due to lack of funding. At a time of such depravations faced by our school, faculty and students (whose tuitions will be increased by 10% next semester), the military has been given permission and funding by the government to create the "Military Science" department and to occupy our entire engineering building, which we, the students and tax payers, have paid for through our tuition fees and tax dollars.

Another major issue that has been brought to our attention is the beginning of an intelligence program at Cal State Fullerton. This program is to begin by the fall 2007 school semester.  The program has been implemented in other universities since 2004 and it is to be implemented at CSU Fullerton. According to Richard Willing from USA Today; "The sponsoring agencies, including the CIA, say the programs help ensure they get enough recruits skilled to wage the war on terrorism. The programs began in 2004."(2) But prior to this program, an intensive Persian course is being offered during the summer session of 2007 at CSU Fullerton (3).  As we discovered from a CSUF faculty member who is one of the individuals taking charge of the intelligence program, the Persian language program is directly related to the intelligence program, and is being funded by agencies such as the CIA and the State Department.  Other Cal State Universities are also in the process of implementing the language programs but with emphasis on different "strategic" languages such as Arabic, Russian, Chinese, and Korean.

It is also worth mentioning that most of these programs are being installed in public schools, such as Cal State Universities, in order to target minorities and less fortunate students who come from struggling families. We encourage everyone to get informed and involved in this struggle to prevent this country from becoming further militarized than it already is. For those of you who are residents of California, it is essential that you take action and become active on this matter. If you are a resident of southern California you can participate by attending the May 10th demonstration at CSU Fullerton.  We are especially encouraging activist organizations to spread the word regarding the event and attend the rally.  And finally, we encourage all parents who are planning on sending their children to high schools and universities, to contact their local school administrators and express their concerns and opposition to such military exhibits on school campuses. Comment

What you can do for CSU Fullerton
Please call the following campus representatives (below) and respectfully-but forcefully-demand that they cancel the recruitment event. In making your demand, raise the following possible talking points:

*** The specific targeting of Latino youth is OVERTLY RACIST
*** The timing of the recruitment effort comes when the CSU continues to dramatically RAISE STUDENT FEES
*** Military recruiters operate on a QUOTA system and will say anything to recruit our youth
*** The war is both IMMORAL and ILLEGAL

President Milton Gordon (714) 278-3456
Vice President Ephraim Smith (714) 278-2615
Dean of Students Kandy Mink Salas    (714) 278-3211
Professor of Military Science William Howard    (714) 278-5768
Enrollment Counselor Captain Scott Murphy  (714) 278-5119

Payam Shahfari
(Students for Peace and Social Justice, CSUF)
Contact: spsj_csuf@yahoo.com

1. U.S. Army Implements First Ever Leaders among US Program

2. Intelligence agencies invest in college education

3. CSUF Offers Intensive Persian Studies Program

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