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Be All You Can Be

To the Editor:

Many thanks to Metroland for highlighting an important victory for students at Watervliet High School [“Your Options Aren’t Limited,” Feature, May 21]. Those who fought to limit military recruiters’ access to their school got what they wanted in the end: on-campus visits capped at once a month, the same level of access given to employers and college recruiters. This victory allows us to reflect on why we should be concerned about military recruitment in schools.

For starters, military recruiters like to view the school as something they “own.” (As the article points out, “school ownership” is listed as a key goal in the Army’s school recruiting handbook.) A teacher at Watervliet High even said that recruiters had approached him to ask that young recruits receive passing grades in his classes. This kind of presumption is hardly a trait of rogue recruiters.

Just four years ago, the Pentagon ordered all the nation’s recruiters to observe a one-day “stand down” amidst national news coverage of recruiting fraud.

Of course, fraud comes in illegal and legal forms. Take, for instance, the small print of the official enlistment contract (part C, section 9.5b): “Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay, allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/ re-enlistment document” (caps in original). So when we talk about limiting recruiters’ access to schools, one of our primary rationales should be protecting young people from those who want to sign them up using these absurd one-sided contracts.

Counter recruitment activists are those who see their role as confronting the distortion outlined above, while also providing information on alternatives to military service. Counter recruitment, which ideally results in lowered enlistment numbers and a more vigilant citizenry, also negatively impacts the Pentagon’s ability to wage wars of aggression.

Looking ahead, the Watervliet students’ successful campaign should provide a road map for other schools in the area to adopt similar policies limiting recruiter access.

For anyone interested in promoting non-military alternatives and opposing militarism, the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth will be holding a national counter recruitment conference in Chicago, July 17-19. Registration forms may be found online at nnomy.org.

Seth Kershner

Pittsfield, Mass.

Digital Deception

To the Editor:

Shawn Stone’s “Reel to Unreal” [Arts Feature, June 4] raised some interesting issues about the digital movie age, but it did not mention one more problem we unexpectedly came across at Colonie Center several months ago.

At around 2 PM on Sunday afternoon, we looked up the Colonie Center’s cinema schedule online. A movie we wanted to see was playing at 6 PM, so we planned our day around that. But when we got there, we found that they had decided last-minute to cancel “our” showing in order to add one more screen of some new blockbuster that had just opened. We were out of luck.

That’s not something you can do with film.

From a business point of view, it makes sense to sell more opportunities to put butts in seats. But what about the poor sucker who naively assumes their daily movie clock is not going to be usurped by profit-hungry managers? No apology. No offer of a free pass for wasting our time. Just an offhand comment from the clerk that the same movie started in two minutes down at Crossgates (10 minutes away) if we wanted to go. Actually, that was also incorrect: Crossgates had ended that movie’s run two days earlier.

As nice as the Colonie Center theaters are, I’ll be very wary about going to see another movie there. If it happened once, I’m sure it will happen again.

Alan Wechsler

Rensselaer

Oops!

In last week’s cover story [“Full House,” Listen Here, June 18] we referred to the Empire Jazz Orchestra as the Empire State Orchestra.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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