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Initiative Opposes Military Recruiting on Campus

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Hoping to build on the American public's growing frustration with the war in Iraq, antiwar activists in San Francisco on Monday submitted a local ballot measure that would put the city on record as opposing the presence of military recruiters in colleges and public high schools.

If it qualifies for the November ballot and is approved, the nonbinding initiative, "College Not Combat," would not ban the armed forces from seeking recruits on campuses, an action that puts schools at risk of losing federal money.

Instead, it would encourage city officials and university administrators to exclude recruiters, even if that meant forsaking government dollars. It also would urge them to create scholarships and training programs to reduce the military's appeal to young adults.

"We do not see George Bush's daughters signing up. It is poor and working-class people who need a job and education at the same time billions are being spent on this war," said Ragina Johnson of the International Socialist Organization.

The initiative is part of a nationwide movement against the Pentagon's recruiting efforts and its exclusion of openly gay prospects. The United States Supreme Court agreed last month to hear the Bush administration's appeal of a lower court ruling that law schools could not be stripped of their federal funds for refusing to treat military employers as they would other employers.

Antiwar activists have also singled out a provision of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that requires school districts to provide military recruiters access to student career centers and to the same student contact information available to college or job recruiters. For a decade, the San Francisco Unified School District banned military recruiters from its high schools, a stand it was forced to abandon after Congress approved No Child Left Behind in 2001.

Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke of the Air Force, a Pentagon spokeswoman, rejected the notion that poor and working-class Americans are singled out by recruiters and make up a disproportionate share of war casualties.

"Like other large major corporations, we want the best and the brightest that our country's schools have to offer. That's who we are recruiting," she said. "That's why we want equal access to student directory information and college and high school campuses, so we can let these students know what we have to offer in terms of benefits and education."

— Associated Press
New York Times


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