I S.A.W. the Sign, and It Opened Up My Eyes

Students Against War (SAW) is a group on UVM campus dedicated to ending the war in Iraq. Recently, SAW and its cause has been garnering more and more support: “the Anti-war camp in America has been swelling; more and more people are turning against this war, and more and more people are seeking ways to try and actually put a stop to it,” says SAW leader John McDonald. As an organization, Students Against War has a very simple goal – “to put an end to this racist, unjustified, and grotesquely devastating occupation.”

In an effort to further its cause, SAW has been engaging in activity on several fronts around UVM campus. On Thursday, November 10th, just before Veterans’ Day, SAW joined forces with Veterans for Peace to plant 2,000 white flags on the green between the Living-Learning complex and Spear Street. McDonald explains that, “this sort of visual reminder is intended to get people thinking about what the continued occupation really means in terms of human lives.”

Another battle that Students Against War and other organizations are fighting is over military recruitment, especially on college campuses. The US military has a recruitment office in Williston, and actively engages in on-campus recruitment. McDonald and the SAW seek to put a stop to military recruitment at UVM: “The most clear means of materially affecting the US military’s ability to maintain its humiliating and devastating occupation of the Iraqi people is by stopping the flow of fresh recruits to the Middle East.” McDonald continues to say that “[recruiters’] explicit purpose is to convince unwilling students to sign up to become just another warm body to be hurled over to Iraq.”

This struggle comes in the midst of a national battle over the constitutionality of military recruitment on the campuses of public schools – FAIR v. Rumsfeld is a court case which will come before the Supreme Court in December, concerning a dispute over the so-called Solomon amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. In 1995, the first Solomon amendment was passed by Congress, which would deny any federal money to a university which prevented military recruiters from accessing the University’s campus.

Several lower courts have already ruled that the Solomon amendment violates the First Amendment rights of universities, and the case will begin to be heard by the new Roberts-led Supreme Court on December 6th, of this year. In support of FAIR, on December 6th, the SAW at UVM is planning a walkout, followed by a protest at the military recruitment office in Williston. Currently, UVM abides by the rules set forth in the Solomon amendment and allows access to recruitment officers.