April 21, 2006

Students wear fake blood to protest military

Students protesting military recruiters on campus staged a “die-in” in the Reynolds Club marketplace on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, the Marine recruiters, who had booked tables with ORCSA, failed to arrive on either day.

The protesters, made up as corpses with fake blood on their faces and clothes in order to “make immediate” the casualties in Iraq, distributed pamphlets with graphic pictures of torture and death and invited passers-by to put on similar shirts in a show of support.

They also set up a mock recruitment board “for the dead” with a roster of the soldiers killed in Iraq and spaces beneath for students to sign up to become “one of the dead.”

“The dead are the oldest branch of the military,” said protestor Jarrett Belle-Isle, a second-year in the College. “We’re the most honest branch of the military. The recruiters are part of a machine that produces dead bodies.”

The protesters also displayed a wedding photo album labeled “Military Iraq,” containing photos from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Laura Gluckman, a second-year in the College, said she was protesting the “plague of silence” that has developed under the current government. “We’re stuck,” she said of the Solomon Amendment, a federal law that threatens to cut government funding to universities that interfere with military recruitment on their campuses. “We should be more vocal.”

Jeremy Cohan, a fourth-year in the College who was one of the four students arrested in February for disorderly conduct while protesting military recruiters, said his group had booked a table under the name of the Naked Theatre RSO in order to comply with ORCSA regulations of conduct in the Reynolds Club.

Belle-Isle said administrators have tacitly shown their approval.

“They have been all smiles,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of private comments from them saying they’re opposed to the war, they’re more or less politically on our side.”

Guadalupe Nieves, assistant director of the Reynolds Club and Bartlett Hall, said ORCSA had worked with the group to ensure the protest went smoothly. ORCSA also shut down the e-mail kiosks in the Reynolds Club marketplace to give protesters more space for their demonstration.

“They really are trying to make this go well with us,” Belle-Isle said.

Captain Dennis Frantsve, who is in charge of the military recruiters, said he had cancelled the bookings but that the change in plans had nothing to do with the protests.

“We had other things come up at the office,” Frantsve said. “It wouldn’t have been an effective use of my time.”

“I’m skeptical about that,” Cohan said. “It’s very mysterious and a little suspicious. We scared them away.”