Countering Recruitment at Buffalo State

18 Apr

By Cliff Cawthon

Military Recruiters are a reoccurring feature in schools in poor communities, Buffalo & city schools are no different. It was characterized as a “military occupation of our schools”, by Will Richardson, a student activist and former Hutch Tech student. On Tuesday, April 14th Buffalo State Students For Peace organized a panel discussion on counter-recruitment and military recruitment in our schools featuring: William Richardson (UB Student, President- United Socialist Movement of the Americas Buffalo chapter); Robynn Murray (Iraq War Veteran and IVAW organizer for WNY); Joshua Casteel (IVAW organizer); and Dr. Shawgi of Nazareth College.

The panel was insightful, powerful, and a moving counter to the friendly facade of university and high-school military recruiters. Their lessons are particularly relevant at Buffalo State College, which has a significant reservist and working-class population. The idea of free-education and benefits are quite attractive; however, due to terms of departure from the military or the decisions of institutional actors, a third of troops don’t receive those benefits.

Dr. Shawgi initiated the panel with the Prison-Military pipeline that follows a pattern of criminalization, poverty, and military mobilization. Without livelihoods, strong criminal drug policies, and difficult obstacles to a post-secondary education (i.e. scholarships or debt) one of the most lucrative choices ‘presented’ to young people is the military. For example, on the Army website “Active Duty” enlistment may bring a $40,000 bonus.

The presentation from the veterans preceded the Question and Answer section and it brought a striking realism to conclude the presentation. Robynn Murray addressed PTSD and the abuse in the military against women and men, according to the new IVAW pamphlet, “55 percent of all women service members and 38 percent of men have reported sexual harassment”. Joshua Casteel complimented everything that was said by adding a brilliant illustration of the psychological dimension of the training of soldiers. At the core of this conditioning is the practice of “Operant and reflexive conditioning”: showing an image or a theme to someone constantly and training their reaction.

One point that both IVAW panelists addressed was the infamous Apache Helicoper Video found by wikileaks:
The feeling on the panel was that this video demonstrated the exact protocol that the soldiers were taught. This criminal action was not the product of a few individuals but, it was part-and-parcel of a larger behavioral complex. In turn, it was cited that one-third of active duty soldiers are on some kind of anti-depressant of sleeping medication because of the stressful and traumatic experiences.

The U.S. has been in a state of perpetual war since 1945. At any time since 1945 to the present the United States has its troops engaged in some operation or military conflict. This is not a natural thing, and militarism does not exist in a vacuum. In the Question and Answer section, the guests worked with the panelists on solutions and one tactic suggested for High Schools is to organize a counter-recruitment presence when recruiters arrive.

Taking action against this exploitation of our friends and family and our public space is the only way we can stop it. In taking action against the lifeline of the military complex we can disable the advance of U.S. militarism that has already killed millions of people while perpetuating an occupation that only serves the interests of capital.

For more information on counter-recruitment efforts go to: , and email

For more information on the school-to-prison pipeline:
Takling points-

Dismantiling the school-to-prison pipeline-…

The School-to-Prison pipeline-…


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