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Debate about counter-recruitment protest
What happened at HCC?

November 4, 2005 | Page 8

We Republicans deny wrongdoing

I JUST finished reading your article about the events that took place on September 29, 2005, at Holyoke Community College ("Cracking down on student protests," October 7). I am the president of the Holyoke Community College (HCC) Republicans. I just thought you would be interested in hearing the other side of the story.

I think it should be noted that officer Scott Landry is not nor ever was a faculty adviser to the HCC Republicans. Officer Landry was asked if he would be willing to advise the club, but he declined due to a conflict of interest.

The second thing that should be noted is that after Mr. Peterson was maced, Michael Jarvis, the secretary of the HCC Republicans, went over to help him out. Secretary Jarvis did not assault any member of the Anti-War Coalition (AWC) or anyone else there. I have also asked other College Republicans about these allegations (and I think we need to make sure everyone knows that they are only allegations), and they have all denied any wrongdoing.

In this great country, you are innocent until proven guilty. I would hope all readers of your paper understand this. Investigations at Holyoke Community College are still ongoing, and no final result has been reached.

The third thing I would like to address is the individuals who are openly gay going up to the military recruiters. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy is not discriminatory by any means. I can't join the Army and proudly say "I am a straight male," because I am openly talking about my sexuality. The same goes for members of the gay community.

Obviously, when three students go up to the military recruiters and say, "We are openly gay and we want to join the military," the recruiters are not going to pay any attention to them because they have already broken the policy of don't ask, don't tell. In short, the policy doesn't care about your sexuality--the military just doesn't want you openly talking about it, regardless if you're straight, gay, or even bisexual.

Finally, I also would like to state the fact that I don't believe that the Anti-War Coalition (AWC) was peaceful during their protest. The AWC handed little flyers out the day before the rally, which stated "cut class, cut work, do whatever it takes to kick military recruiters off campus." If you ever hear "do whatever it takes to achieve a goal," you must wonder immediately. I do believe that those flyers are evidence that they never intended to be peaceful.

When the three individuals went up to the military recruiters to acquire about joining, other members of the AWC were ripping literature as well as throwing away informative disks. That is not peaceful. Also why did the AWC have a "police are hypocrites" sign if they were protesting military recruiters? It seemed like they were looking for a fight, and they got one.

I, as of this second, am not even sure where I stand on the current war in Iraq. However, I do believe it is every American's right to decide if they want to join the military. I don't think that right should be taken away.
Kevin Orzechowski, President, Holyoke Community College Republicans

Recycling lies about the protest

IN RESPONSE to the letter submitted by Kevin Orzechowski, I must confess my astonishment that he actually signed his name to something. His usual modus operandi is to anonymously attack a radical member of the HCC community, and then vigorously deny authorship. I am extremely grateful to publicly expose him as an intellectual charlatan and a bigot.

To address his first claim: both Kevin, and HCC's student activities director had confided to me that officer Scott Landry was the College Republicans' adviser. Why Kevin is denying it now, I leave for Socialist Worker's readers to surmise.

Also, if officer Landry was not a supporter of the College Republicans, why was he asked to be their adviser in the first place? And if he was, in fact, not an uninterested participant, as I and the rest of the Anti-War Coalition have every reason to believe, what was he doing attacking the protesters whom the College Republicans were counter-protesting?

The conduct of the College Republicans, since Kevin so conveniently brought it up, also deserves mention. Yes, Mike Jarvis did come to my aid after I had been maced, and I am deeply grateful. The reason Mike was the first student to come to my aid was that after I was held down and maced by campus security, they barricaded me off from my fellow protesters. It bears mentioning that although I was offered medical attention, I did not receive it, nor was any effort made to procure it.

Furthermore, Kevin glosses over his very significant role in the events of September 29. It was actually Kevin who initiated the physical confrontation by attacking the AWC while we were peacefully picketing the recruiters' table. Kevin also courageously led the cheering from behind police lines while the AWC was attacked a half-hour later.

Kevin's most odious claims deserve even closer scrutiny. Contrary to his analysis, the recruiters did not respond to the students who openly professed to be gay because they realized that to respond would put them in violation of the school's anti-discrimination policy.

Additionally, and quite unsurprisingly, Kevin completely misses the whole point about "don't ask, don't tell." In a society where heterosexuality is considered normal, it is impossible to be disciplined for ostensibly heterosexual behavior. I have yet to hear of a case in which a heterosexual serviceperson was dismissed for proclaiming their sexual preference.

Kevin's lack of sensitivity on this issue is unsurprising, given his prominent role in the College Republican-sponsored "affirmative action" bake sale last fall, in which he and his fellow bigots had varying suggested prices, based on the buyers' race and gender. The highest price was for "oppressive white males."

Not content with being a passive participant in a hate crime, Kevin appeared in a photograph on the front cover of the school newspaper holding a sign that reads: "Affirmative action is wrong." Kevin even had the temerity to brag about this behavior in last month's issue of the school paper.

A final point craves attention. It is not surprising that Kevin is unclear about his own views on the war in Iraq. What Kevin fails to realize is that dying for the American ruling class in Iraq is not something anyone should have a right to. What we all do have a right to is free health care, free education, good jobs and a world without war. This is a world worth fighting for.
Charles Peterson, Northampton, Mass.

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