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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Uncle Sam Wants Your College Kids' Data

This pisses me off greatly. I'm very glad that my daughter is no longer a university graduate student and that my sons are too young to attend a university, because all U.S. college and university students' data must now be handed over to the military.

The Department of Defense has ruled that military recruiters must be given access to universities' student directories if recruiters from potential employers are also given access, according to the Army Times:
... Students can opt out of having their information turned over to the military only if they opt out of having their information provided to all other recruiters, but schools cannot have policies that exclude only the military, defense officials said in a March 28 notice of the new policy in the Federal Register.

The Defense Department "will honor only those student 'opt-outs' from the disclosure of directory information that are even-handedly applied to all prospective employers seeking information for recruiting purposes," the notice says.

Directories are an important recruiting tool because they include the names, birthdates, phone numbers and academic pursuits of college students that can be used to identify people with knowledge and interests that are particularly useful to the military.

The new policy also no longer lets schools ban military recruiters from working on campuses solely because a school determines that no students have expressed interest in joining the military. If other employers are invited, the military has to have the same access.

Federal funding can be cut off if colleges and universities do not give recruiters and ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] programs campus access. While student financial assistance is not at risk, other federal aid, especially research funding, can disappear if a school does not cooperate. ...
I want the military to keep its hands off my kids and their data. For now, I'll keep collecting evidence (their essays, artwork, etc.) that my sons are pacifists, so that one day, if they remain pacifists as 18-year-olds, they can use what's in my files on them as documentation that they have always been conscientious objectors.


KathyF said...

I don't see that this has anything to do with the draft at all. It sounds pretty fair to me. I'd actually like to see more students from schools that might turn out "peaceniks" join the military. We need less recruiting from schools like A&M and more recruiting from liberal arts colleges, imo. And for students from disadvantaged backgrounds becoming an officer is a great way to have education paid for, without piling up huge amounts of debt.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

No, it has nothing to do with the draft. The problem is that colleges and universities are required to hand over all students' contact info to military recruiters, who can then use high-pressure tactics to talk gullible young people into signing up for a stint in the military.

There have been plenty of reports, since the Iraq war began, of the military not paying for the benefits, such as a college education, that it has promised. And kids from disadvanted backgrounds should not be pressured by recruiters into joining an organization that will greatly increase their chances of being killed.

I don't believe that universities and colleges should be venues for recruiting young people into a system that will put them in the path of death. The military recruiters can find cannon fodder another way.

Anonymous said...

Katharine…with due respect, I disagree with you wholeheartedly. Nothing wrong at all with college age students at least being told that they do have the option of enlisting in the service if that’s what they desire. And, quite frankly, nobody is holding a gun to their heads to do so. All that is asked is that they at least listen. Nothing else. It’s not as if students nowadays have been imbued with any other sense of “responsibility” that should be commensurate with the rights they’re already afforded as citizens of this country. If someone would rather not enlist, fine, good luck with whatever it is that individual would like to pursue. But this idea that recruiters are somehow so eeevil in their pursuit of “cannon fodder” is a complete red herring (and I thought that someone of your obvious intelligence would be above stooping to that level of discourse). Additionally, your argument that the “military” isn’t paying for promised educational benefits is specious at best. My BA (Caldwell College, Political Science, 1998) was paid for, lock, stock and barrel, by the American taxpayer. Not one dime came out of my pocket. Graduated with a 3.98 GPA and you had better believe that I feel as if I will always owe this country my best for every opportunity I’ve been afforded through my enlistment. Have I put my life on the line a few times? Yeah, but I’m not the sort of guy who’d be particularly happy sitting on my butt behind a desk in some office losing sleep over the quarterly profit report. I’ve discovered that one gets out of the Armed Forces what one puts into it…I have not been disappointed and I am not embarrassed to admit that I love the Coast Guard (I had earlier done a stint in the Navy before switching over). The organization is as much my family as my wife and kids. So, yeah, I take it personally when folks carp about the military somehow resembling a “system that will put them in the path of death.” I’ve seen death up close and personal during my years in uniform and it has made me appreciate life all the more…probably much more than I ever would have dreamed had I remained a civilian. I regard every day with my wife and kids as a gift and I owe it all to the fact that I wear a uniform. I don’t expect you to understand any of this (much less agree with it), but it’s my hope that you may at some point transcend what I regard as a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything having to do with the military (and this is just my honest feelings about the matter, not a personal attack directed at you).


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Jim, thanks for commenting.

As a pacifist, one who believes that killing is morally wrong, I cannot see past the military's training its members to kill other human beings. Granted, not all members of the military end up killing someone. But in wartime, the chances that they will kill someone or be killed themselves are greatly increased. I will always see the use of physical force and weapons against other human beings as immoral.

I would be happy to see all young people be required to engage in some kind of compulsory service. I would like to see them be able to choose among military service, community service in the U.S. (such as repairing homes of the elderly and/or the poor, cleaning up parks, and teaching adult nonreaders to read), and community service abroad.

I am glad that the military kept its promise to you in paying for your education, but today's military isn't the same. Signing bonuses, specific end dates to tours of duty, and more are promised to get young people to sign up, yet it's been reported in the mainstream media that the military is reneging on these promises and even billing some soldiers for their equipment.

Anonymous said...

Katharine…no offense, but I am part of “today’s military.” I still serve (and still have about another 3 years to go until I hit the 20 year mark, but I intend on sticking around for 30). Again, the mainstream media tends to sensationalize without bothering to get to the bottom of the true story. Signing bonuses have always been around. Re-enlistment bonuses have always been around. None of that stuff represents a new development. “Stop-loss” is another red herring. All initial enlistees agree to a contract with an eight year term, meaning that even after the conclusion of three to four years of active duty, that individual is still subject to recall as a member of the IRR (the Individual Ready Reserve). That has always, always, always been the case. Nothing “new.” As far as gear goes, the Coast Guard issues fairly decent stuff, but of course sometimes I like “top shelf” items like, well, my Benchmade auto-folder. So I splurged and bought myself a $200 switchblade. But that’s an individual choice and folks in the service have always been given the option of purchasing as much additional gear as they please. As far as killing goes, well, you and I are going to have to disagree about what is and what isn’t immoral. I’m responsible for having killed some people (albeit indirectly, but it is what it is and I don’t equivocate). Conversely, however, I’ve also saved a few lives here and there. I don’t ask for thanks for the lives I’ve saved, but neither do I expect condemnation for the lives I’ve helped to take (and those folks were indubitably “bad” in the worst sense of the word). It is all part of a responsibility one assumes when wearing the uniform. It is not a joke nor is it an adventure tale. But I do think that I’m a better man for the things that I’ve seen, done and experienced. I do agree with you that there should be some form of compulsory service following high school (I’d imagine two years would do the trick), but given the “WIIFM” sense of entitlement that seems to be prevalent among many adolescents nowadays (as well as the “helicopter parents” phenomenon), I don’t see that happening anytime soon.


Casey said...

I object to handing out student data, but for me it's an issue of student privacy and organizational efficiency.

My dad's college degree was paid for by the Army after his two tours of duty in Vietnam. (He had two draft exemptions but volunteered anyway.) At least four other men in my family have served in the military, two as GIs, two as career officers. All this is to say I can't bring myself to knock the military as an option. And to say that these men were able to find out about and join the armed forces without having to wait for the military to make the first move.

My high school gave my contact info to the Army without my knowledge or consent. The Army called me repeatedly for two or three years, even after I told them I was going to college and had no interest in military service. They continued to call my parents' house, sent packages and just would not give up. My parents finally told them, firmly, to stop calling. And that was 20 years ago, when the pressure to recruit was much lower than it is now.

Issues of peace and violence aside, I'm sure there were better uses of recruiting time and funds than stalking an underweight, asthmatic teenage girl who wouldn't have made it through basic even if I had wanted to sign up.

I don't think the military or any other entity, such as corporations should get students' contact info without their express permission. That's just basic privacy practice.

Students who are old enough to attend college are, one would hope, old enough and possess enough initiative to seek out opportunities in line with their interests and values. And colleges host plenty of career days when students can be exposed to options they might not have considered otherwise and can offer their contact info to entities they want to learn more about.

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