Student protest prevents CIA recruiting event at New York University
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field and Sam Pipp
A planned CIA recruiting event at New York University (NYU) was cancelled after
the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) called a protest demanding the CIA abandon its
recruiting program at NYU. 20 hours before the recruiting event was scheduled to
begin, its organizers sent an email to all those who had registered, headlined,
"The CIA Speaker Event scheduled for Thursday, March 31 @6PM has been CANCELLED
due to the possibility of a protest by the Campus Antiwar Network."
The event -- which was
scheduled to include speakers from the CIA, a dinner, and a raffle for prizes
such as an iPod Shuffle -- was organized by students in an NYU marketing class
whose classwork for the semester is to market the CIA to their peers at NYU.
They will be graded on their efforts; the CIA, which provided them a $2500
budget for their project, retains ownership of the marketing campaign they
create. The CIA hired the company EdVenture Partners to broker this arrangement.
This alliance between
the university and the CIA to market CIA employment on campus is taking place at
only two universities this semester: NYU and the University of Texas-Pan
American (UTPA). Students at both schools have rallied in protest against the
"We believe they're
testing the waters to see how brazenly they can recruit on campuses without
encountering student opposition, before spreading programs like this to colleges
across the country," said Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, a senior at NYU and member of
the Campus Antiwar Network. "Forcing them to cancel their big speaking event is
a huge victory. It showed them they can't market an agency that supports torture
and murder around the world without a fight."
After the event was
cancelled, about twenty students rallied in celebration outside the building
where it was scheduled to have been held, passing out fact sheets about the
CIA's history of assassination attempts and support for brutal dictatorships.
Ten students went to challenge the event's organizers to a public debate on
campus about the CIA -- an offer which was declined.
campaign says they want to 'dispel the myths' about the CIA," said David Florey,
a senior at NYU and member of the Campus Antiwar Network. "But they refused our
offer to debate. They can't dispel the reality of the CIA's own practices. It's
not a myth that the CIA organized the program in Afghanistan that trained Osama
PART OF A NATIONAL
NYU's protest comes in
the context of a counter-recruitment movement that has swept colleges and high
schools across the country. Students at schools ranging from Seattle Central
Community College and San Francisco State University on the West Coast, to City
College New York and and Southern Connecticut State University on the East
Coast, have chased military recruiters off their campus this school year.
colleges like NYU don't get the same kinds of military recruiters. The only
recruiters NYU has seen this year came from the Judge Advocate General (the
legal arm of the military), which faced protest from NYU students opposed to the
discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the prosecution of war resisters. But
students at NYU see their CIA Off Campus campaign as a contribution to the
national counter-recruitment movement.
"We know that because
of the general affluence of the students at NYU, direct military recruitment
will never be as fruitful as the government would hope, but in the past few
months, we've seen a significant increase in the presence of OTHER forms of
recruitment for militaristic operations," said Sam Pipp, a sophomore at NYU and
member of the Campus Antiwar Network. "This CIA recruitment in the guise of a
class represents a campaign of sorts on the part of the government to pull as
many as they can into the military machine."
"We're here as part of
a growing counter-recruitment movement that has the potential to stop Bush's
ability to carry out his agenda of war and terror," said Leia Petty, a member of
the Campus Antiwar Network, at the protest. "We're here to say that torture and
terror are not career opportunities, and we don't intend to back down until the
CIA drops all efforts to recruit at NYU."
THIS PROTEST IS JUST
Two days before NYU's
protest, students at UTPA had protested the CIA recruiting event at their
campus, where the CIA is explicitly marketing itself as an employer of choice
for Latinos. "I think the students in the marketing class are naive to think
they're offering any opportunity to Hispanics," said Samantha Garcia, president
of Students for Peace and Justice and the University Socialist Forum at UTPA,
two groups that protested the CIA. Garcia noted the CIA's history of involvement
in Latin America, such as its involvement in the overthrow of Chile's left-wing
leader Salvador Allende and its support of Nicaragua's Contras.
At both schools,
students plan to keep fighting the CIA presence and opposing the U.S. occupation
in Iraq, which they see as intimately connected. "Bush says we're bringing
democracy to Iraq," Wrigley-Field said. "But the history of the CIA shows the
U.S. is the last country that can bring democracy anywhere."