A planned CIA recruiting event at New
York University (NYU) was canceled after the Campus
Antiwar Network (CAN) called a protest demanding the CIA abandon its recruiting
program at NYU. Twenty hours before the recruiting event was scheduled to begin,
its organizers sent an e-mail to all those who had registered, headlined, "The
CIA Speaker Event scheduled for Thursday, March 31 @6PM has been CANCELED 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 $2,500 budget for their project, retains ownership of the marketing
campaign they create. The CIA hired the company EdVenture Partners to broker
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 program.
"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 canceled, about 20 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 that was declined.
"Their marketing 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 bin Laden."
A National Movement
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.
Expensive private 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 policy 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."
Just the Beginning
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."