ROCHESTER, N.Y.–Members of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are celebrating a significant victory after the director for Campus Life issued the order to stop allowing military recruiters in the Student Alumni Union.
On January 15, CAN members were promoting an upcoming meeting calling for the U.S. to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan when an ally who works at the information desk told us that military recruiters were arriving in half an hour. An emergency message was immediately sent out to CAN members for a counter-recruitment action.
When two members of the National Guard arrived, one of them laid out their tablecloth and the other went to reserve a table. CAN members went over to one of the recruiters and asked him questions about Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. The recruiter portrayed the National Guard as “the good guys,” who “help out with Hurricane Katrina and stuff.” He also claimed that the National Guard is not deployed overseas, which is false.
When the other Guardsman returned, he said that they couldn’t have a table because of “something that happened before with the Marines or whatever.”
The recruiters may have been clueless about why they couldn’t have a table, but CAN members were very much aware. On October 24, CAN at RIT held a counter-recruitment action with over two dozen protesters, including members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Antiwar protesters chanting prevented recruiters from recruiting, and even talking. We forced them to pack up.
When the National Guard took off this time, our ally from the information desk told us that her supervisor told the National Guard recruiters that they and other branches of the military were not allowed to recruit in the building because the administration didn’t want “another riot.”
They may have been banned from the busiest place on campus, but they will find an alternative location to recruit. CAN has no problem with changing accommodations. We’ll keep fighting.
This victory for the CAN chapter is also one for the student antiwar movement because this is what it means when we say activism matters. Organizing matters. Educating ourselves matters. Protest certainly does matter because it’s the best weapon we have in combating budget cuts, recruiters, war profiteers, discrimination and any struggle that lies ahead.