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The call from campuses...
Get the military out of our schools

By Nicole Colson | April 29, 2005 | Page 2

ON CAMPUSES across the country, students are standing up against war and the U.S. military machine. But in recent weeks, activists have come under increasing fire for speaking out--and often, their own administrations are leading the charge.

At the University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC), hundreds of activists faced a vicious assault by campus police during a recent "Tent State University" demonstration. Tent State--founded in 2003 to protest cuts in higher education, while the mammoth military budget got even bigger--is an annual weeklong tent city held on several campuses, where activists camp out, hold alternative classes and "mass-democracy" sessions, and host cultural events.

UCSC administrators informed organizers that they wouldn't be allowed to camp overnight this year--because of "health and safety" concerns. But on April 18, school officials proved that the safety of students was the least of their concerns.

Just after 11 p.m., with university officials allegedly looking on, a group of 30 police dressed in riot gear attacked 200 activists. Police began dragging students away, wielding batons, and using so-called "pain-compliance" holds on the peaceful protesters. In all, police made 18 arrests, charging participants with trespassing, resisting arrest and unlawful assembly.

The administration denies charges of police brutality, but the activists who were there--and the pictures and videos of the event, which have circulated around the Internet--tell a different story. "I was personally batoned by a cop in my stomach, as were several other students," undergraduate Max Glick wrote on the Santa Cruz Indymedia Web site. "We have pictures of bruises to prove it. We were peaceful bystanders who happened to be standing in the path of riot police. They did not ask us to move, they simply started attacking students with batons."

As Socialist Worker went to press, it remained unclear whether Tent University organizers would face criminal charges or academic sanctions. But activists say that the attack is designed to send a message to students after the success of two recent protests--including one of 300 that forced military recruiters to leave a campus job fair, and a sit-in of 500 students and workers that blocked a street during a strike by campus unions.

The attack on activists at UCSC comes at the same time that antiwar students at San Francisco State University face disciplinary hearings in retaliation for a March 9 protest against military recruiters, where 150 students sat in to protest Air Force and Army Corps of Engineer recruiters at a university-sponsored career fair. Six student organizations that endorsed the demonstration, as well as several individuals, have since received letters stating that the administration is beginning formal disciplinary proceedings against them.

Despite similar threats and intimidation, around 120 students at UC-Berkeley rallied April 21 against Marine recruiters at a university job fair. Outside the student union where the job fair was held, students spoke out against the occupation of Iraq and the lies recruiters tell to enlist students. About 60 students marched inside to confront the recruiters.

The UC-Berkeley administration made it clear which side it stands on, by surrounding the building with metal barricades and police dogs, and bringing in 40 extra campus police (including at least one of those who had brutalized students at UCSC) to "protect" the recruiters.

But by refusing to back down, Berkeley students were able to get more students involved in the fight to keep their campus recruiter-free--and, as Socialist Worker went to press, were planning to confront administrators at an upcoming university-sponsored debate about military recruiters on campus.

Students at Holyoke Community College (HCC) in Holyoke, Mass., who have been organizing since September to build opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq, are also facing retaliation. Student Senate President Angela Greany led a successful effort to pass a resolution calling on the HCC administration to bar recruiters from campus.

Now members of the College Republicans are striking back against Greany, the Anti-War Coaltion (AWC) and left-wing faculty members by trying to get the AWC decertified as a student group. Unable to win their positions politically, they have turned to a disgusting personal campaign against Greany that has included physical intimidation and sexual harassment.

The HCC administration, meanwhile, has tried to sweep these incidents under the rug--including telling one faculty member targeted by the Republicans that he was "asking for it."

But Greany and members of the AWC are demanding that the Republicans stop the harassment immediately, write a public apology to Angela for their sexist and threatening behavior, and sign a pledge agreeing that they will not engage in racist, sexist and homophobic harassment. The AWC is circulating a petition with these demands and gathering endorsements for a speakout April 27 to expose the methods that the right wing has taken on our campus to intimidate activists.

The anti-recruitment effort is being felt in Bush's own backyard. On April 21, activists at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin held their third anti-recruitment action in recent weeks.

Students in the Campus Antiwar Movement to End the Occupation organized a demonstration to protest the war and the stepped-up attempts by military recruiters to sign up students. Approximately 40 protesters marched to the recruiting offices of the Armed Services for Central Austin--where they blocked the main entrance with coffins draped with the American and Iraqi flags, and a banner that read "Bring the Troops Home Now."

After 40 minutes, Austin police arrived and threatened arrests against those who remained. The marchers wrapped up--but vowed that as long as the war in Iraq drags on, they would return.

To protest the attack on Tent University activists at UCSC, e-mail Chancellor Denice Denton at [email protected]. Contact SFSU President Robert Corrigan, to demand that charges be dropped against antiwar activists and organizations. Call 415-338-1381 or e-mail [email protected]. Protest the harassment of antiwar activists at Holyoke Community College by e-mailing college president, Bill Messner at [email protected].

James Illingworth, Annie Levin, Leigh Johnson and Jeremy Atkinson contributed to this report.

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