As the Santa Monica College militant week of resistance began Monday March 14, a league of different student organizations gathered to take combative actions against the military recruiter's presence on campus.
After sending an unreturned letter to the SMC Board of Trustees asking for the ban of military recruiters on campus, the coalition decided to take action.
For the resistant alliance, the army is a discriminatory institution whose presence on campus unequivocally violates the SMC's non-discriminatory and equal opportunity policy regarding sexual orientation.
"The Board of Trustees needs to make a decision, it is pointless to have a policy and not respect it," said Alex Lathrop, a sociology major involved in the progressive alliance.
"Rage, rage, rage against the hiding of the light," said Fred Durlasser, a Santa Monica community member who joined a dozen of students last Monday at the Board of Trustees' public hearing, to challenge the board to follow the Harvard, Yale and Santa Cruz High school laws banning military presence on campuses. Durlasser, an ex-teacher, along with the coalition, believes that the youth is being presented with a rosier picture of what war and the army system is in reality and that education should value life over death.
The coalition judges that the military recruiters represent a direct threat to education because they are depriving schools from potential students and funds. They believe that the army makes use of the Montgomery GI bill and the Army College fund as a magnet to attract financially disfavored students who many times are not fully receiving the promised benefits.
For Julia Wallace, a UCLA student involved in the week of resistance, community colleges are at stake because they represent "a fertile soil for recruiters"
in search of poor minorities. In addition, the student organization coalition brought to the Board of Trustee's attention that one-third of the homeless population are veterans. Wallace told the Board of Trustees that they are "failing students" if they allow military recruiters' presence on campus "We won't wait for you to stand up to them, we will stand up to them ourselves," she said.
But if many agree with what these students stand for, Tom Carter does not. Carter is a full time event technician at SMC who is also an Army National Guard and was recently called for mobilization in Iraq.
Even though Carter admits that the number of homeless veterans are concerning, he believes that they are not being forgotten by their country. "Not only are they being taken cared of for the rest of their lives, they receive funds for the rest of their lives," he said. Carter also mentioned to the Board of Trustees that it is the decision of soldiers to take
advantage or not of the education benefits that are there for them. Carter believes that the discipline, leadership and problem solving skills learned in the army are very valuable in today's job market.
For the Army National Guard, the banning of recruiters on campus is a narrow-minded position. In Carter's opinion, homosexual males and females are not more exposed to discrimination in the army than they are in regular society. The population representation in the military services is representative of the U.S. demographic population. "I agree that they should not discriminate homosexuals, but the army is necessary and it is the young
people who fight, not the old people," said Alexander Jonathon Forouzesh, a political science student.
If opinions are diverging around the military recruiters issue, and whether we agree or not, from Santa Monica community members to students and organizations such as the Progressive Alliance, the Anti-War on the World Coalition, ALAS, the Coalition Soldiers of Cuba, the resistance collaboration is seeking to increase a sense of awareness,
thoughtfulness and action among students on international, domestic and local issues
"It is the responsibility of any person in a democratic society to be informed. We encourage anyone to be a participant, not be apathetic," said Jacob Colas-Myrie, a PA and AWWC member.
As the week of resistance will continue until the end of the week, other actions will be taken. Today, March 16 students will be meeting at the Library Pathway for Gorilla theater and Dies-in. On Thursday, March 17 students will walk out and rally against the war, racism, parking meters of Pearl St., budget cuts and other issues. Throughout the week, black resistance ribbons that read "resist" will be distributed.
For more information regarding the Week of Resistance contact firstname.lastname@example.org