Students against War lose UVic battle

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

University of Victoria Students has banned its ban on military recruiters.

Students at UVic were outraged when they heard the student society passed a ban at a Sept.10 University of Victoria Students’ Society meeting to prevent army recruiters from entering the Student Union Building during the career fair in January.

The original ban was passed by one vote. Student outrage at the ban prompted the Board of Directors to bring the issue to vote at its Annual General Meeting Oct. 25.

Nearly 500 students attended the meeting " many more than usual " and an overwhelming majority rejected the motion to ban recruiters. Only 25 students voted in favour of the ban.

The results showed a majority of students were against banning Canadian Forces recruiters within SUB perimeters during the career fair.

Tracy Ho, chairperson of the UVSS Board of Directors was in favour of the ban.

She noted, “It was a clear majority, but there were students in favour as well.”

Ho focused on the positive outcome of the controversy.

“It was great to see so many students came out and wanted to be involved in that process " 525 students were involved in the sign-in " one of the largest in the last couple years.”

The issue stirred up much discussion on campus, including a debate on Oct. 18 over the Afghanistan war.

According to Ho, this is why many students thought a full-out ban was not the best approach.

“If the military isn’t there, the discussion won’t continue,” Ho said.

Students Against War, the campus organization that proposed the ban to the UVSS, led a rally before the vote. It featured performances by local artists and speeches from students.

“Yeah, I was quite disappointed. But I can’t say I was overly surprised,” Rachel Barrett, co-chair of SAW said of the results.

Barrett thought students were mislead to believe their right to choose was being taken away.

“That wasn’t the case, but a lot of students got really angry and that’s what prompted students to vote that way,” she explained.

Lt. Kerr, detachment commander at the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre in Victoria, was pleased with the results.

“We’re pretty happy with the decision … we think it’s great.”

But she pointed out if UVSS had voted in favour of the ban, they would not have forced the issue.

“Free speech " we support that. That’s why we have the military, we support democracy,” Kerr noted.

Barrett was also pleased with the discussion.

Ho hoped the vote would not signify the end of debate on campus.

“I don’t think this decision is going to take the military off our mind.”

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