Students Against War Discuss Work Ahead
Organization hopes to make changes in military recruiting
September 1, 2005 12:47 PM
Kristin Anderson stood with a smile on her face as the room erupted into applause.
The clapping came after Anderson recalled how her organization, Students Against War, kicked military recruiters off of the campus last semester.
SAW began its first meeting of the year by reminding the crowd of 32 people in Rosa Park Conference Room E of the reasons why they were all there. The group went over President Bush’s low approval rating, the high death toll of Iraqis and talked about what they believe is an upswing in anti-war sentiment due to Cindy Sheehan’s visit to Crawford, TX to speak to the president. But they explained the biggest work ahead of them is to get military recruiters off high school and college campuses.
“They’re coming back next semester and we need to let them know they’re not welcome,” Anderson said.
SAW invited Aimee Allison to the meeting as a guest speaker to help push this message along. Allison calls herself a counter-recruiter and has been in Crawford, a place she calls “Disneyland for the Right Wing.”
“The military is unlike any job you can have,” Allison said. “You’ll put your life on the line but you don’t have any say and you can’t quit.”
Allison was recruited straight out of high school in 1987 in Antioch at the age of 17. She said she did so because she was promised $20,000 to help put her through college, which she said she never saw.
In 1990 her reserve unit was activated and she received papers that told her she was being sent to Kuwait. She began to look deep into her own personal beliefs of war and decided that she had to refuse her orders. In 1993, she was honorably discharged.
Allison now wants to stop other young people from getting themselves into something they may not agree with either, but are stuck because they have signed a contract with the government.
“I’m trying to make my experience meaningful for others,” Allison said.
Allison, along with SAW and other organizations are trying to push Proposition I, the “College not Combat” ballot measure, that would make it illegal for the military to recruit young people on any public school, college, or university in San Francisco.
“You sign a contract and they own you,” Anderson said. “It was your choice but it’s like being a slave.”
Michael Hoffman, another member of SAW, said that the organization will hopefully make some changes in the way the military recruits people and somehow end the war in Iraq.
“The majority of the population opposes the war and our activism and coordinated efforts can help make that majority heard,” Hoffman said.
On September 24, SAW will join in a national day of protest to push for a withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq and to keep recruiters off school campuses. Anderson believes that their efforts have helped in the anti-war movement and points to army recruiters not being able to meet their quotas since January of this year, when the counter-recruitment movement began.
Karen Knoller, an SF State freshmen, said what people had to say at the meeting inspired her.
“I was taken aback by people’s intense feelings,” Knoller said. “Back where I came from, I never had a venue to express my feelings.”
Anderson and Hoffman explained that this meeting was specifically set up to let people know who they are and what they are about. They understand that there are those who may not agree with their interpretation of the war and the current administration.
“I’m not the one they should be blaming,” Anderson said about those who may be upset with SAW’s anti-war movement. “They should be blaming the person who brought them over there in the first place.
“They should stand right beside me and demand that the troops be brought home.”
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