On April 5 nearly 300 University of California–Santa Cruz students and community allies shut down the annual Stevenson Event Center Career Fair, where recruiters from the Army, Navy and Marines had set up tables. The activists demanded that recruiters leave immediately and turn their tabling spots over to student counter-recruitment activists, which they eventually did.

The action, which was organized by the local campus group Students Against War (SAW), commenced with a high-energy, traffic-blocking march that started at the campus bookstore and finished at the career fair. Youthful participants militantly chanted, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, hey recruiters, go away!” and carried signs sporting slogans like “Education not occupation” and “Don’t ask, don’t tell? Go to hell!”

At the same time that the marchers were converging on the fair, a smaller group of about 10 student activists had already infiltrated the center. Linking arms, they encircled the recruiters’ tables while chanting antiwar slogans.

When the marchers arrived, the smaller group was supplemented by around 100 more students who flooded into the center, in defiance of the career fair staff — some of whom attempted to physically prevent people from entering by pushing them back. A group of police in riot gear soon showed up to assist staff members in controlling the students.

Nearly 200 people who were unable to enter the building held a rally outside where representatives from SAW, the Watsonville chapter of the Brown Berets, and other organizations addressed issues of war, militarism, and discrimination.

Inside the center, freshman Janine Carmona read aloud an official statement from SAW. It argued that because the U.S. military practices policies of racism, sexism and homophobia, allowing any recruitment on campus directly violates the rules of the university and the career fair, which ban employers who discriminate.

The Career Center should “immediately escort the recruiters off our campus and to make it policy to never invite them again,” she said. The students said that they would not allow the fair to continue until recruiters vacated the premises.

After a tense standoff, representatives from the Army and Navy packed up and left, using a back door. After about another half an hour the Marines also decided to leave. Claiming that they had met their recruitment goal for the day, they also made their way out the back door.

In addition to kicking the recruiters out of the fair, students also secured an agreement to meet the following week with Career Center administrators to discuss the issue of military recruitment on campus.

Organizers and participants felt that the event was a major success. Carmona told the World that she saw it as “part of a much larger revitalization of antiwar action on college campuses.” She added, “It is important that these kinds of actions continue, because when youth get together they can have real power, and that is exactly what it is going to take to end this war.”

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