ROTC TARGETS LATINOS
Students and faculty at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), are campaigning to oust the Army ROTC because they say it targets Hispanic students and has no place on a college campus. "I don't agree with the militarizing of campus," said Jose Moreno, a CSUN Chicano/a studies graduate student and co-founder of The Committee on Raza Rights 10. "Having the ROTC (here) is militarizing the campus." Moreno is one of a number of students and faculty concerned about the Hispanic Access Initiative (HAI), which is part of CSUN's contract with the Army ROTC. They say the initiative allows the military to target a group of students by ethnicity. "Only 12 percent of Latinos in the U.S. ever qualify to attend a university," Rosa Furumoto, assistant professor for the Chicano/a Studies Department, said last week. "Now, we finally have a few (Latino) students on campus, and we have the military wanting to drain off those students."
Controversy began last fall, when President Jolene Koester announced that the Army ROTC would be on campus by January. Oriel Maria S. Bernal, Chicano/a studies and Latin American literature double major, said the president didn’t bother to ask Latino students what they thought about the plan. "She didn't consult with the Latino students who would be most affected by this," Bernal said. "It's more than obvious that it's a very racist contract. It is targeting a specific group of students."
According to Lt. Col. Philip Butch, recruiter-trainer for Army ROTC at CSUN recruiters have not changed any of their strategies. "I don't target any Hispanics," Butch said Friday. "I don't target anyone."
However, the HAI is the result of an analysis conducted by Cadet Command on Army ROTC. Based on the results of that analysis, a plan was developed which the Secretary of the Army approved in 1999 to expand Army ROTC presence to additional campuses with high Hispanic enrollment. The Hispanic Access Initiative provides for instructor salaries, scholarships, marketing dollars and operating expenses at each of these schools where traditionally "underserved" populations enroll in college. In addition, the HAI provides special access to the student records of Latino students. The HAI is an initiative that Latino educators have also criticized because this recruitment begins in the high schools and continues into the university level.
An open letter to CSUN President Jolene Koester from Rosa Furumoto, Assistant Professor, Chicana/o Studies Department, reads in part, "…The Army's interest in CSUN's Hispanic students is part of the military's current and historical trend towards recruiting poor and working class youth, especially Latinos and African Americans, to serve in our nation's military…. Historically Latinos have died serving this nation in percentages disproportionate to Latino representation in the total population. Twenty eight percent of the names on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC are Latino (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Report). Over 50% of front-line troops for Operation Desert Storm were people of color with a large percentage of these Latinos…. So very few Latinos and African Americans make it to college with even fewer graduating and going on to more advanced degrees. It is extremely painful and insulting to the Latino community to see our youth siphoned off at such disproportionate rates for military service. This is not the dream we have for our children or those of anyone else. We do not want CSUN to provide the U.S Army with the resources and access to our students to help perpetuate this injustice… Your stated principal reason for signing the agreement with the U.S. Army is the potential loss of 8 million dollars in federal funding to CSUN… However, what is the message we send to our students and the community when we endorse the militarization of our campus and the military targeting of Hispanic students in exchange for maintaining these funds? How many human lives and/or injuries is 8 million dollars worth? What a powerful message you could send to our government leaders, the nation, the community, and our students if you would stand up and refuse to be a cog in the military war machine."
Sources: Ventura County Star, US Army Cadet Command News, An Open Letter to President Koester Regarding ROTC - CSUN "HISPANIC ACCESS INITIATIVE", Hispanic Vista
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