Keep recruiters off campus, says UCU


28 May 2008

by JAMES TWEEDIE in Manchester



LECTURERS' union UCU conference delegates voted to support the Stop the War Coalition campaign against military recruitment on campuses on Wednesday.

The resolution from the College of North-East London branch noted the recruitment problems faced by the army and other services in the face of mounting casualties and growing opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LETHAL PROFESSION: Lecturers have added their voices to complain about invitations to military recruiters to university campuses.

College managers are increasingly inviting military recruiters onto campuses to glamorise violent role models and glorify weapons of war, despite a recent Joseph Rowntree Trust report highlighting the "ethical shortcomings" of military recruitment, it said.

North-East London delegate and Tottenham Quaker Ben Jones told delegates that, during Peace Week, his college's management had invited the army to hold a recruitment drive on campus.

"My students are between 14 and 19 years old, the target age for army recruiters," he said.

"We are the only country in Europe to allow recruitment at 16.

"We have a duty to these students to encourage their critical faculties. This is not a benign employer.

"We must insist that the realities of violent death, serious injury and psychological damage are made clear."

Moving an amendment to the motion calling for a joint summit of teachers, educationalists and the Stop the War Coalition to discuss the issue, Darren Bradshaw (Croydon College) said that the army had been particularly active in Croydon - which has the greatest proportion of children and young people in the country - in recent years and were now encroaching on the college.

"A six-foot poster appeared on the stairs saying: 'You can go from Croydon to Canada.'

"It didn't say: 'You can go from Croydon to Kandahar.' There is a Fawlty Towers attitude of 'don't mention the war' here," said Mr Bradshaw.

NEC member Sean Vernell (City and Islington College) pointed out that, while Britain may not have formal conscription, it has what amounts to economic conscription.

"I believe wars are fought by the poor and unemployed of one country against those of another," he said.

"I have been to France and seen the ages on the gravestones from World War II - 16, 17, 18 years old, mile after mile. We said 'never again' then and we should say it now."