Strax Communiqué 01
Today, 13 November 2008, St. Thomas University (STU) hosted a “To Protect and Serve” career fair, providing a venue for various law enforcement agencies (including the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, and CSIS) to recruit university students.
While the STU administration suggests that such an event fulfills its obligation to provide its students with employment contacts and information, we see the nature of this specific “career fair” as indicative of STU’s uncritical support for these agencies.
By hosting this career fair, STU promotes the work of these agencies and becomes complicit in their purveyance of state violence and neo-colonialism. The current inclusion in the career fair of the Portage rehabilitation centre, or the future inclusion of other such organizations, does not justify the presence of agencies like CSIS and the RCMP. These state security bodies were actively recruiting students today, but called on campus security to eject students who challenged them on their involvement in the illegal invasion of Haiti and the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
Given the unacceptable nature of this event, Strax felt that it would be unconscionable not to respond.
We are not alone in our opposition to the militarization of campus space. Other individuals and organizations were also compelled to respond to the “To Protect and Serve” career fair. Our tactics and analysis are not one and the same, but we are united in our understanding of this event as being representative of the uncritical support by the university administration of militarization.
In order to express our opposition, Strax:
- distributed literature revealing the oppressive tendencies of the organizations present;
- repeatedly displayed a banner calling on the Canadian government to cease its occupations of Haiti and Afghanistan;
- enacted a piece of political theatre, linking the actions of various agencies to deportations to torture (such as that of Maher Arar and Omar Kadhr);
- engaged in critical discussion with representatives of agencies of state violence and the event’s promoters, on issues such as the First Nations sovereignty and systemic brutality against prisoners.
Our actions were not without controversy. We faced irate career fair organizers who argued that these organizations had been invited to campus. They were unable to respond to the critique that, as students, we were offered no say in this invitation. Campus security, as well as representatives of the STU administration, served to protect the agencies from our critique by asking us to leave the premises. Protesters were permitted to stand at a significant distance from the booths, which
functioned to maintain the false impression of freedom of speech. Despite this opposition, many Strax supporters succeeded in repeatedly entering the career fair premises on multiple occasions and causing serious disruptions.
Although the Armed Forces and CSIS are often identified as the primary agents of the militarization of public space, our analysis extends to understand the Fredericton Police, the RCMP, and other “law enforcement” agencies as perpetrators of state violence and repression. Therefore, they, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces and CSIS, should be banned from recruiting on campus.
Strax will uncompromisingly oppose all future efforts to militarize our campus spaces. We intend to win.
For more information, please contact Strax at: firstname.lastname@example.org