World Can’t Wait called on all Berkeley High School students Monday to sign a letter protesting the U.S. military’s requirement that Berkeley High give student information to military recruiters unless the students request the school not to.
The Berkeley School Board last week voted to adopt a policy requiring juniors and seniors to sign an “opt-out” form if they don’t want their information released to the U.S. military. Previously, students who wished to be contacted by military recruiters had to sign an “opt-in” form.
Berkeley High was the last school in the country to adopt the “opt-in” policy under threat of losing $10 million in federal funding, as part of the No Child Left Behind act.
“Berkeley High was forced by the office of the Undersecretary of Defense in a complete action of extortion to undermine the privacy of BHS students by releasing students’ information to military recruiters,” said Daniel A. Sandoval of World Can’t Wait. “We are collecting signatures from Berkeley High School students to support the fact that majority of the students are against the war.”
Sandoval told the Planet that close to 250 student signatures had been collected so far from Berkeley High.
The petition says, in part: “We oppose this unjust war. We support the soldiers who resist fighting this unjust war. We refuse to serve in an unjust war. We want nothing to do with this unjust war. And we will set the example and call on all students across the nation to refuse to serve this unjust war. NO MORE!”
Sandoval sad that the letter would be sent to the Robert Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, on Wednesday.
“However, the names of the students will not be disclosed,” he said.
Monday’s demonstration had been planned for inside the Berkeley High campus but was moved to the Martin Luther King Jr. park grounds.
“They were not allowed to hold it inside the school because they don’t represent the school,” said BUSD public information officer Mark Coplan. “Only the district can hold a press conference inside the school.”
Rio Bauce, a BHS senior who chairs the city’s Youth Commission and is a member of the Planning Commission, said that the change in policy was not worth protesting about.
“The kids are just happy that they were able to opt out during assembly a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “The opt-out policy is legal. I think Berkeley High is doing the right thing by complying with the law.”