By Evan Branigan
More than 900 UC Santa Cruz students and alumni flashed smiles and passed out rÃ©sumÃ©s as they mingled with representatives from Apple, Costco, the City of Santa Cruz, and 80 other recruiters at the Last Chance Job & Internship Fair last Tuesday at the College 9/10 Dining Hall and University Center. The job fair was just like last spring’s job fair, except for one thing: this one had no military recruiters.
Last Friday, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that all military branches had backed out. However, this was not the case.
Initially, three branches of the military — Army, Marines, and the Army medical department — planned to attend the event, leaving Army recruiters as the only military branch seeking access to the job fair.
The Solomon Amendment states that the federal government can withhold federal funding from colleges that deny military recruiters equal access to campus events, but two military recruiters said that UCSC complied with the federal law. UCSC estimated receiving approximately $100 million in federal funding last year.
Major Peder Swanson, a member of the Army medical department, which offers scholarships to medical students in exchange for a commitment to the army, explained that they canceled because the fall career fair was better suited for their purposes and not because of student pressure as Students Against War (SAW) claimed.
“Our decision to not attend the Career Fair was not based on student pressure, as Students Against War has claimed,” Swanson said. “Rather, this event was simply not an effective return on our investment.”
Marine Officer Selection Officer Captain Brian Lionbarger decided not to come for similar reasons. He said the April job fair did not leave enough time for potential recruits to qualify for Officer Candidate School for the summer.
He noted that the UCSC Career Center had “fully complied” with the Solomon Amendment in his experience, and added that he plans to recruit at the Career Fair next fall.
Sergeant First Class Ray Ward, a Capitola-based Army recruiter who had planned to share space with the Army medical department, was surprised when he learned that the recruiters had formally withdrawn because Ward had still planned to attend the fair with the Army medical department. Ward informally discussed sharing table with the Army medical department.
Ward called the Career Center to see if he could be accommodated at the event, but the Career Center had had already replaced the two spots with other employers; there was no more space available and Ward faced a long waiting list of employers who also wanted to attend.
Ward expressed frustration to City on a Hill Press the day before the Career Fair. “It’s my job and my right to be there,” he said. “I just wish there was a way for me to have been there. Recruiting is my job and I’m just here to do my job.”
UCSC Spokesperson Jim Burns said that the Career Center regretted that Sergeant Ward was unable to attend, but stressed that the University was not responsible.
“We have to provide the same degree of access to military recruiters that we provide to civilian recruiters,” Burns said. “We met that obligation with Tuesday’s job fair, and will do so at future job fairs as well.”