Point: The ROTC Does Not Belong on BC's Campus
Eric Ares, A&S '05, answered some questions about his involvement in the protest of ROTC recruitment and the growing GJP movement to expel them from campus.
What do you feel the mission of GJP on campus is?
The mission of GJP on campus is two-fold: (1) To educate the campus and spread awareness with regards to issues of social justice and human rights, and (2) To take practical and concrete action to address those very same issues.
What do you hope to accomplish by protesting the ROTC table?
In protesting the ROTC table, we primarily hope to ensure that anyone interested in enlisting have a more clear and accurate understanding of what she or he might be signing up to do. The war in Iraq is growing unpopular even among the army with over 5,500 soldiers going AWOL since the invasion of Iraq. Moreover, if he or she is considering the benefits, such as money for education, we want them to know that over 50% (closer to 65%) of all those who sign up for the GI Bill receive NO money for college. In addition to this primary goal, we also aim to continue to spread awareness on campus regarding how the very presence of recruitment on campus contributes to the occupation of Iraq.
Do you think eliminating ROTC from campus will affect military recruitment?
Facts show that the Army did not reach its recruitment goals for February, which was the first time since 1999 that recruitment goals have not been met. Moreover, March proved to be another dismal month for recruiting as the Army failed to reach its goals for a second consecutive month. I'd like to think that this is in large part due to people beginning to question the occupation and whether or not they want to risk their lives for such an endeavor. However, I would also like to think that the decline in recruitment is also due to the growing national counter-recruitment campaign that is reaching high schools, universities, and recruitment centers across the country. Eliminating ROTC would thus be a concrete step in affecting military recruitment. On March 23, 2005 we demonstrated around a recruitment table in McElroy. Yet military recruiters were not the people occupying the table. It was rather a group of BC ROTC students that were trying to recruit students. In this way, removing ROTC from campus would definitely affect military recruitment.
Would you consider yourself anti-military or just anti-ROTC?
At this point I would consider myself neither anti-military nor anti-ROTC. A group of us would actually see ourselves as aiming to demilitarize our campus. ROTC would fall under this category, but so would the Physics and Math departments who receive enormous grants for military-related research. Yet let me be clear in saying that in no way am I anti-soldier, if there is such a thing. Those who criticize our actions often, and quite mistakenly, think that we are somehow against those fighting in Iraq. They think we are despicable and that we are abusing the free speech that our soldiers in Iraq are fighting to protect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We fully understand that our soldiers are putting themselves on the line. But we don't want them to put themselves on the line for an effort that we see as so unjust.
What other measures, if any, will you take to demonstrate your point? Is there anything else planned?
Obviously we are a grassroots movement, but a growing movement nonetheless. It starts with a demonstration, and, as we can see, media attention follows. Thus, I am sure actions and steps will follow as the movement grows and we work to counter recruitment tables and demilitarize our campus. Just this past Monday 300 students at the UC Santa Cruz were able to remove the Army, the Air force, and the Navy from the school's career fair. Can you imagine that? 300 BC students in McElroy? I think we do, and that is why we continue to mobilize for action.
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