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GET THE MILITARY OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS
Officials start to retreat
A victory for four activists over CCNY

By Nicole Colson | April 22, 2005 | Page 12

STUDENTS ARE standing up for their right to keep their campuses free of military recruiters.

At the City College of New York (CCNY), after being banned from setting foot on campus, three students who were arrested March 9 and suspended for protesting military recruiters--and one staff member who was arrested two days later--returned to campus April 11 after the administration lifted their suspensions.

The "City Four" were suspended for "grabbing and hitting" a campus police officer. But numerous witnesses agree that it was the campus police officers--trained by the NYPD--that assaulted the protesters.

Students, faculty, staff and other supporters formed the City Defense Campaign, organizing a press conference, protests, a town-hall meeting and petitionings that gathered over 1,000 signatures. Recently, several faculty and students began a hunger strike in support. When CCNY scheduled disciplinary hearings for the students, the Campaign organized to pack the hearing--which was then cancelled two days later. Now, the City Four and their supporters are planning an April 21 campus rally, to keep the heat on the administration to drop the charges entirely.

-- Elsewhere, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, approximately 200 students walked out of classes April 14 to rally against the occupation and demand that military recruiters and ROTC be kicked off campus.

As Jane Jensen, 71-year-old member of Veterans for Peace, was speaking about her son's experience in Iraq, campus police shut off the speaker system. Speakers continued using a bullhorn, and students marched to Chancellor John Wiley's office--where they rallied until the chancellor's secretary was forced to schedule an upcoming public forum to discuss the group's demands.

-- At Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, about 15 activists protested April 13 against Navy Officer Corps recruiters at a campus job fair. After passing out hundreds of "Know Your Potential Employer" fact sheets, activists were able to surround the recruiters' table and prevent the military from signing up a single student while they were there.

-- Late last month, at New York University, a CIA recruitment event was cancelled after the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) planned a protest. In an e-mail, event organizers explained that the event was cancelled "due to the possibility of a protest by the Campus Antiwar Network." "Forcing them to cancel their big speaking event is a huge victory," said CAN activist Elizabeth Wrigley-Field. "It showed them they can't market an agency that supports torture and murder around the world without a fight."

-- Even high schools, which are required to turn over students' information to military recruiters, are beginning to show their opposition. Seattle's Garfield High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association board recently adopted a resolution calling for the removal of military recruiters from high school campuses in Seattle.

It states, in part, "Whether it is because of a desire to protect young students from the life-and-death decision that military service presents, objection to the current war in Iraq, fear that recruiters may not present a realistic picture of military life or disagreement with policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, we do agree that public schools are not a place for military recruiters."

Brian Jones, Kyle Gilbertson, Sam Pipp, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Paul Pryse contributed to this report. For information about how to support the City Four, visit www.citydefensecampaign.org on the Web.

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