grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

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REPORT ON GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
COUNTER-RECRUITMENT TABLE

April 11, 2005


By Bonnie Weinstein

A very successful counter-recruitment table was set up at George Washington
High School Tuesday, April 5. People from Campus Antiwar Network, American
Friends Service Committee and Bay Area United Against War helped get
counter-recruitment literature and information out to students at the high
school's Career Day Fair. We had enough people to have two at the table to
talk to people and get contact information, etc., and have two or three
people handing out flyers to people approaching the military recruiting
tables.

We were able to hand out many flyers about the upcoming counter-recruitment
conference at City College that weekend. Stephen Funk came on his own
wearing a "veterans against the war" T-shirt and was fantastically effective
in talking to young people considering military service. When asked to leave
the area near the military recruiters' tables because it was reserved for
the members of the military, Stephen quickly pointed out that he, too, was a
member of the military. They left him alone after that.

We were stopped after about an hour and a half, from handing out flyers in
front of the military recruitment tables. Except for this, the day was very
positive. Most of the students seemed to be against the war and not
interested in joining the military. It was interesting to see the how the
military tables drew kids over to them by having all kinds of key chains,
stickers, and other emblematic trinkets to distribute free. Of course, the
kids went for everybody's free stuff, including ours.

Here are some observations about the experience that will be helpful to help
make these tables more successful.

First of all, our table was arranged by calling the school career counselor.
We told the counselor we would like to set up a counter-recruitment table
and that we would have material on the table designed to convince kids not
to enlist in the military and to recruit young people to the peace and
anti-recruitment movement. She and the principal agreed to allow the table
and were quite friendly to us. Both stated they were against the war.

When we arrived there were helpers to bring the material up to the location
of the fair. We were assigned a table at the opposite end of a long hallway
far from the military. We mentioned to the school career counselor that the
object of us being there was to approach those students who are considering
joining the military so we would like our table to be near to theirs. She
said it was out of the question and they purposefully kept us as far apart
as possible to avoid any "conflict." As you will see the only conflict of
the day was raised by the military recruiters.

When we first arrived  and realized the location of our table was a big draw
back from our purpose of being there, i.e., to talk to the kids who were
considering military enlistment upon graduation. We consulted amongst
ourselves and decided that since we can't move our table, we should flyer
the students who approached the military tables.

We stood near their tables and were not talking except one-to-one with
students who asked questions as they took a flyer. We were in front of their
tables for at least an hour and a half without incident. Stephen Funk kept
close by the recruiters, also, and quietly spoke to students who approached
him because he was wearing a Veterans Against the War T-shirt.
At a certain point the school career counselor asked us not to flyer near
the military tables and asked us to go back to our table in response to a
complaint from the military recruiters. After discussion with the Principal,
a school guard and the SFPD police officer assigned to the school we were
threatened with physical removal by six police officers if we didn't stop
flyering near the military recruiting tables.

We need to check if we have the right to flyer under these circumstances.
Does the right of free speech apply to public high schools?

While we were speaking to the Principal of the school who welcomed us, but
insisted we stop flyering near the military recruitment tables, we suggested
to him that the school have an assembly about the war and military
recruitment in the high schools. We suggested it could be a teach-in and the
military could present their point of view and we present our point our view
and the audience could have a discussion about it. The Principal said that,
"high school is not for debate. It's for learning. Debate is for college
students." We said, "If the students are old enough to be recruited to the
military, they are old enough to hear debate about the war and about
military on school grounds as well." Our discussion with the Principal about
this and at times got a little heated but in the end we left on friendly
terms and I think we convinced the Principal that it was the military that
was causing the ruckus, not us. We were quietly and politely handing out
flyers to people who reached out to receive them.

The ruckus the military made over flyering, itself, was a clear sign of it's
own lack of faith in an atmosphere of free thought and critical thinking-an
atmosphere every school should have. The Principal felt caught in the
middle. We need to ask that teachers and administrators who are against the
war take a stand on our side.  The military is no career choice.

A wonderful tool to show the principal was the U.S. Army's own Recruitment
Training handbook. It states clearly in chapter 1.1 exactly why there is a
military presence in our schools, i.e., to have a school recruiting program
(SRP) with the goal, "to own the school".

We need to have materials that address the concerns of school
administrators, teachers, students and, very importantly, the students'
parents that address the question of military presence in our schools. This
school principal was sincerely against the war. There was a huge peace sign
facing outside the school building. But his vision of support to the peace
movement was that we got this one table, this year, at his school while
ignoring the fact that the military had daily access to students through
JROTC programs.

He had to acknowledge that this was true. After reading the military
recruitment handbook. He began to understand where we were coming from. And
he is open to some educational suggestions for the inclusion of antiwar
material added to the curriculum, etc. And he will welcome us back again to
have a table at the next career day, or to meet with him about other ideas
we may have. We should establish liaisons to the schools and begin to design
antiwar curriculum for the schools along these lines. As much as possible we
should have veterans at these tables.

The counter-recruitment table was great. We need much more close contact
with these students and their parents and our schools than we have now and
this was a good beginning. One idea we had was to visit parent-teacher
conference evenings and set up a table with the opt-out forms and
information about military recruitment at the schools and try to get the
parents who are opposed to the war involved in expressing their opinion-so
that the JROTC is not the only voice heard from. As a matter of fact, the
military is targeting parents in their latest advertising campaign to
convince them that the military will "give their kids all the opportunities
that they can't afford to give them."

It was very refreshing to talk to students one on one. We got a very warm
reception and people thanked us for having the table there. One of the
teachers even confessed that she didn't sign her class up for career day
because she didn't want her students exposed to the military at all.

In discussing ways to reach the school community we came up with the idea of
Teach-In Assemblies at the high schools during the school day and having
"Vermont-style" town hall meetings at the high-schools in the evening so
that parents are more likely to attend with their kids; as well as
assemblies in the schools devoted to this issue. Again, this is another
possible chance to bring the peace movement up close and personal with the
entire school community, and not leave them to the likes of JROTC.

The military has a virtually unlimited budget. We received generous
donations of printed material from groups for this table, which made it very
attractive to students. Yet we had no budget for this. This shows how much
more we can accomplish when we work together.

Counter-recruitment is a very powerful aspect of the antiwar movement. We
can affect the number of new recruits the military gets. It was very
effective all of us working together at George Washington High School that
Tuesday.

We hope this is just the beginning of an ongoing and massive program of
counter-recruitment in the High Schools. These kids are the meat and
potatoes of the giant U.S. Military-industrial monster. We need to pull its
feeding tube, for sure. No more cannon fodder, no more war.

April 11, 2005

Bay Area United Against War
www.bauaw.org

 

April 11, 2005 - page created by Charlie Jenks

 

 

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