Second Lt. Joseph Perkins described it as a small carnival—with its Humvee, Apache Helicopter simulator and climbing wall. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Perkins was one of the army recruiters on campus Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Perkins hasn’t seen combat. But if he was called to Iraq, he told the Planet on Friday he’d go. “I signed up,” he said.
Near Perkins, a young man, dressed in a black T-shirt called out to passersby: “Get your free dog tags here.”
It was noon on Friday, day two of the three-day army/ROTC marketing effort on campus.
“We’re promoting the army with games and personalized ID tags,” Filipe Tamayo told the Planet. Tamayo’s not a soldier. He works for LAX, a marketing agency that sends teams all over the country to air shows, concerts and festivals to promote the army. They work in tandem with the recruiters.
Asked why he hasn’t joined the army, Tamayo hesitated, then said it’s because he likes his job with the marketing firm.
Others should join, he said. “Basically, the army opens a lot of opportunities for youth,” he said.
Last month, Associated Press quoted Gen. William Wallace, head of army recruiting, reporting that the army began its recruiting year on Oct. 1 with fewer soldiers signed up than in any year since it became an all-volunteer service in 1973.
During the 20 minutes or so a Planet reporter hung around the area where the recruiters had set up, only one person tried out the climbing wall and one went into the helicopter simulator. A few picked up free dog tags.
Most walked by.
No one protested.
However, Matthew Taylor, a student in Peace and Conflict Studies, told the Planet on Monday that Friday evening Critical Mass bike riders rode to the recruitment area next to the Haas Pavilion and surrounded it.
“It’s morally reprehensible that the University of California would allow the U.S. military to recruit people on campus to kill Iraqis. It’s indefensible to allow such a crime,” Taylor said, noting that the student government had passed a resolution in 2005 saying that no recruiting would be permitted on campus.
“The administration refuses to respect the will of the ASUC [Associated Students of the University of California],” he said.
No university spokesperson was available Monday, Veterans Day, to respond.
Joseph Hill, a Laney College student, tried out the helicopter on Friday, explaining that the video simulation had him clearing an area of enemy forces.
“It was a simulation of an attack; I cleared the way for a mission to make sure they could get through,” he said. “It’s pretty cool; it’s high tech.”
Hill said when he was 18 he’d tried to sign up for the military, but asthma kept him out.
Over at the climbing wall, marked on its side with “Go army.com,” Dwight Crow easily made it up to the top.
“It’s fun,” Crow told the Planet after taking off his safety helmet. A senior in chemistry, Crow said he didn’t think the marketing efforts could change the mind of anyone who wasn’t already planning on joining the army.
He said he has no plans to join and shook his head no when asked if he supports the war.
But Crow said he doesn’t oppose the military. “It’s not the army, it’s the politicians,” he said.
Photo by Judith Scherr
UC Berkeley senior Dwight Crow tackles the U.S. Army climbing wall Friday, part of a three-day effort in Army and ROTC recruitment on campus.