On Tuesday, April 22nd, I made the Iraq war and its illegality an issue that my college needed to handle. I put together a statement and a resolution that would lead to the Student Government at Columbia College making a decision to hold a public forum with military recruiters on this never-ending war or label the recruitment center or the “U.S. Career Center” an unwelcome entity to represent the sentiments of the student body.
The statement I read in conjunction with a resolution I introduced on campus appears at the bottom. But first, here are some of the responses I received from members of the Student Government, which troubled me dearly.
"Once you tell the recruiters no, then they leave you alone" Yes, but they continue to be allowed to prey upon high school students in the Chicago area.
"It doesn't seem like it's affecting our enrollment or that they are harassing our students"
"It's not our place to judge a resident of a storefront property" Yes, it is because we pay tuition to go to school, tuition that finances this campus. We are shareholders in this educational enterprise and can object or support the entities or processes that this college supports.
"You need more evidence for what you're saying"
"University Center is not actually Columbia property" That’s not true. But since this is an argument that I am running up against that more than likely is limited to Columbia College, I will just say that Columbia has a vote on a Board that makes decisions on what goes on in our University Center, which houses students from four colleges and has a 7 Eleven, a bank, a book store, and a restaurant.
"Should we evict 7 Eleven for selling unhealthy food that makes people obese?"
“We're non-partisan and this is a political issue.” The issue of military recruitment is not partisan. Militarization of America is a social issue and it cuts across all political parties.
“My brother is a lieutenant in the army and he hasn't been trained to torture anybody."
"What if over half the student body wanted us to condemn birth control? I would be opposed to that even if it was the majority opinion."
"If we take a stand on every random issue that comes our way it'll undermine our credibility; we don’t need to be taking an antagonistic stance against the administration.”- This came from a guy in an Obama t-shirt.
Yes, but as Alexander Hamilton said, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”
Herbert Hoover said, “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.”
And, Albert Einstein said, “The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.”
So, in raising this issue that many think does not affect students on my campus, I say this is the defining issue of my generation. It will greatly influence our domestic policy especially our economy and our foreign policy for decades to come. If we do not take steps to make this war more unpopular and untenable than it already is than we will continue to see our nation’s economy looted, innocent Iraqis killed, and young Americans wounded and killed mentally and physically.