14. April 2006 · Comments Off on Protests · Categories: General, Home Front, Military

While the majority of the nation was watching the actions of a mixture of illegal aliens, their supporters, and various international socialist and communist organization, a different type of protest took place on the University of California Santa Cruz. This protest featured a couple hundred students who didn’t want their peers to be able to evaluate all the career options open to them.

Any sort of a career fair can be sketchy for recruiters. I’ve been fortunate in never having any large scale protests, and only a handful of spontaneous, small scale events happen. However I’ve never had a table set-up happen which wasn’t visited by a couple of people who made it very clear they felt I was singulary responsible for the war in Iraq. As if stopping me at a poor performing community college will make the Army grind to a halt.

As a military recruiter I fully expect to run into people who don’t want me to do my job. However, I wonder how the other 60 employers at that job fair felt as they saw that mob outside? They still had a good turn out of prospective employees… 545 if I recall correctly. But I wonder how many stayed away because they knew the protest was going to happen, or turned away when they saw it. That’s a loss right there for companies. Not just in the loss of a prospective employee, but it’s a loss of money. Those tables cost cash, sometimes a whole lot, and you expect to get so many people out of an event like that. The fewer people who show up, the less likely an employer will be to get their money’s worth out of the event. Those sorts of things will play into the decision for those companies next semester when they do the next job fair.

Seeing the photos of the recruiters leaving the facility, going through a gauntlet of protestors and being escorted by police made me think of something I’d seen years ago. The photos reminded me of the pictures taken during the Civil Rights movement of the first black students admitted to once all-white colleges. I’m not equating the protest of military recruiters with the violence, threats, and courage of those people at the bleeding edge of the fight for equality, I’m just relating my initial reaction to the pictures.

I’m very proud of my fellow recruiters though. Despite a crowd of people insulting them, threatening them, and calling for their removal from campus they kept their cool. None of the confrontations involved the recruiters and the protestors. All the bad behavior was from one side of the fence, and it wasn’t the side where the military was. In a world where the media was impartial, or at least interested in reporting news, the story would have been about the student protesters of UC Santa Cruz acting like a bunch of screaming howler monkeys and the military left the campus to help defuse the situation before it turned ugly. And not how a unified peace movement was able to force the military off campus.

As recruiters events like this are lose-lose really. When we behave like the professionals we are it simply encourages more of the same. If we were to take the opposite approach and go out swinging, well, it makes for a lot of photographs of people in ACUs pounding on bleeding students. It would be good stress relief, but it’s a very bad idea in the short, medium, and long runs.

Being a recruiter requires a very thick skin and a very sharp wit. You’re going to take a lot of insults and abuse as someone trying to support the defense of our great nation. Some places are worse than others. The community outside of Ft. Benning, GA is far more supportive of people joining the military than the communities around Boston, MA. Usually, when someone walks up and says something stupid, a quick, well aimed retort will usually leave them getting laughed at by their friends.

Anyways… it’s Friday. The Astros are playing the Diamondbacks and I’ve got tickets just off the line in right field. Hope everyone has a super Easter and that Cadbury replaces the Cadbury Bunny with a Cadbury Ostrich.

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