Career fair peaceful; diverse opinions represented

While students expressed a diversity of opinions on the presence of military recruiters at a campus job fair on Tuesday--the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Programs staffed a table at the fair--there were no clashes, and the event occurred without disruption.

The annual Nonprofit, Social Services & Government Job Fair attracted almost 400 job-seekers to the College Nine/Ten Multipurpose Room.

Two groups--the Santa Cruz Campus Anti-War Network and a group of students from Colleges Nine and Ten--organized educational booths outside the event. People were stopping at the two tables to talk, get buttons, and grab informational materials.

The fair was a "complete success," said Barbara Silverthorne, acting Career Center director. "Students connected with employers while members of two groups outside peacefully exercised their right to speak out against military recruiting on campus," Silverthorne said. "Given the current economic climate, it is especially important for our career fairs to be productive so that our students are not deprived of their right to speak freely to all prospective employers."

Career fairs on campus featuring military recruiters have prompted vigorous dissent in the past. Last April, at the so-called "Last Chance Job & Internship Fair," protestors marched from Quarry Plaza to the event. Shortly after the job fair began, they started banging on paint-can drums, carrying signs, shouting into bullhorns, and chanting slogans.

Military recruiters left the campus during the "Last Chance" fair in 2006, saying a protest that year was endangering staff and other students at the fair.

Employers at this year's Nonprofit, Social Services & Government Job Fair included the UC Berkeley Labor Center, the San Francisco Police Department, Stanford University Department of Public Safety, the Peace Corps, California Highway Patrol, and Social Security. There were 22 employers in all.

Attendee Renee Terrebonne, 21, hesitated to come to the fair because she strongly disagrees with the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and, she said, with "military violence in general."

But, she said, she needs a job, and she decided she'd simply pass by the Marines. Despite her stand on the military, she said it was "good they haven't been harassed."

"I don't think anyone deserves that," said Terrebonne, a College 10 senior studying feminist studies and sociology. "It wouldn't show them we're great people."

Job-seeker Abraham Mitnik, 23, was glad to see peaceful representation of the various points of view.

"The Marines are here. That's all right--they're not forcing themselves on anyone," said Mitnik, a former Oakes College student who just graduated with a history degree. "It's the protestors' right to protest, but they shouldn't infringe upon people who want to come here."

For the Marines, the fair was "going great," said Captain Brian Lionbarger, U.S. Marine Corps officer selection officer.

"It always feels good to come to this campus," Lionbarger said. "I always like coming here because of the quality of kids we get coming into our program."

Other employers agreed.

"This is a great job fair," said Robert Contreras, recruitment officer for Stanford University Department of Public Safety. "The students are very attentive, even if it's not their chosen field. They're asking good questions."

At the Santa Cruz Campus Anti-War Network table outside, Jasmin Vargas, 22, an environmental studies major in Merrill College, said the group wanted to give job-seekers "the information the military recruiters aren't giving them and make the connection between increased military spending and more economic debt."

"We want students who want to talk to the military to be educated, and we want to tell them they have different options," she said.