Historically, protests and college students go hand in hand. UC Santa Cruz is particularly notorious for its history of volatile protests. On a campus teeming with student and faculty activists and a generally liberal student-body, protests are not only common but also expected.
But in recent years, from the police brutality at Tent University in 2005 to the recent arrests at the Regents meeting, UCSC student demonstrations have gone awry.
At last spring’s job fair, for the second year in a row, military recruiters were met by over 100 student protestors and responded by leaving voluntarily. Still, in a move that reflects a growing hesitation to condone student activism in fear of potential danger, the university has "indefinitely postponed" the job fair that was scheduled for later this month.
Students Against War (SAW), the student organization responsible for expelling the military recruiters, has expressed that it never intended for the entire job fair to be scratched. The group has also been eager to open a dialogue with the university about current issues surrounding student protests, but says it has not been awarded sufficient opportunity.
Many will remember when the "counter-recruitment" effort of UCSC students and staff at the Spring 2005 job fair landed UC Santa Cruz on the Department of Defense watch list of credible threats to national security. This action confused the generally peaceful-minded Santa Cruz populace while simultaneously establishing them as a force to be reckoned with on a national scale.
While most believed the notation to be overdramatic, recent campus conflicts suggest that university administration is emulating the government’s disapproving attitude toward its own students. Because of the actions of a handful of individual student protestors, the administration has punished the entire student body by taking away the job fair.
The cancellation suggests several things to our student population: a lack of trust and support of students’ beliefs and tactics, a blithe disregard for students’ futures, a fear of student behavior, and finally, a gutless side stepping of a problem that SAW and other students are ready and willing to discuss. One wonders if other campus events may be cancelled because of fear of conflict.
The interests of its students were overlooked when the University made the decision based on anxiety over the safety of military recruiters. Although college students are notorious for evading questions about their post-graduation plans, career planning is an important part of a college education that the university should make widely available to its students.
Campus-organized job fairs are usually one of the more utilized resources provided to aid in this process. UC Berkeley, for example, is offering eight job fairs between now and March for its students to attend.
In contrast, UCSC students will have to wait and see if the administration will overcome its hesitations and address the problem of violent demonstration directly.
In 2006 the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Solomon Amendment, making military recruitment and ROTC a must at job fairs on campuses that wish to continue to receive federal funding.
Regardless of whether the recruiters would decide to come despite their past experiences on our campus, the university should be able to offer its students a job fair.