Today, 5 May, we ae planning to hold a teach-in against military recruitment in schools. However, under pressure from the JROTC at my school, my principal, Sharon Schauss, informed me yesterday that our meeting would be cancelled. This is a violation of our free speech rights and is effectively denying dozens of students interested in Students Against the Draft and War the right to organize. Meanwhile, military recruiters and the JROTC program have the freedom to regularly push their agenda at my school.
I am asking you to call and/or e-mail my principal and Superintendent James F. Shoemake, and urge them to respect our free speech rights and allow our meeting to go on as planned. Their contact information is listed below.
A few months ago, I began working with local anti-war activists to start a counter-military recruitment campaign at my school. Over fifty students signed up to support or join Students Against the Draft and War. The teach-in tomorrow was going to be the first big public event for our group. We planned to show a documentary and have a counter-military recruitment organizer from Minneapolis come in to speak.
However, yesterday, Chief Allen, a JROTC instructor confronted my vice-principal and my teacher, who had offered access to his classroom for our after-school meeting. Chief Allen accused my teacher of trying to take his job away.. Also, some students in my school’s JROTC program were planning to disrupt the meeting by bursting in wearing their combat uniforms.
Then today, Principal Schauss approached my teacher and I during lunch and informed us that our meeting was being cancelled. Principal Schauss stated the reason for canceling our meeting was that we had not given her proper notice and that we were not already an approved student club. But student charters are only allowed in the fall, which prevents students from organizing around issues at any other time in the year. If a guest speaker came to talk to students starting a chess club in the Spring, the principal would not try and shut them down.
We are able to draw the conclusion that this is politically motivated. Principal Schauss even explained to me that she was only endorsing one program at our school concerning this issue, and that was the JROTC. This attitude shows the powerful influence of the military in Tacoma and of the JROTC, which has programs in every public high school in this city.
Please call today:
Principal Sharon Schauss
Superintendent James Shoemake
Thank you so much for your support.