Commentary  Military recruitment has no place on campus

Representatives from the Department of National Defence (DND) visited McGill this past Monday to give an informational session about their Policy Officer Recruitment Program. The session was aimed at recruiting students to the DND’s Policy Group in Ottawa, whose mandate – according to the program website – is to craft international defence policy and manage the public’s perception of defence activities.

This kind of recruitment, advertised by McGill Career Planning Services (CaPS), is deceptively billed as merely a career placement opportunity in politics or international development. Ideal candidates are described as “having an interest in national and international defence and security issues,” and are promised “many opportunities to travel.”

Choosing to join in the military effort is an individual’s right, but a position with the DND or the Canadian Forces isn’t a job without consequences. A job in the military isn’t just another career path, and it shouldn’t be advertised as if it were. Whether on the ground in Afghanistan or writing speeches in Ottawa, those involved in the military are part of a system that propagates oppression and domination, and that uses violence and murder to defend the interests of Canada and its allies. The DND’s Policy Group program, like all military recruitment, sanitizes and whitewashes war, and its attempts to attract students by glorifying this system as a high-end political career are disturbing.

McGill students have repeatedly spoken out against military recruitment on campus, from the October 2008 and February 2009 General Assembly motions attempting to ban military publicity and recruitment from Shatner, to the efforts of Demilitarize McGill in banning recruitment and military research on campus, to protests against the presence of Israeli soldiers on campus this past November. Though the GA motions failed, they mark a strong consciousness on campus about the harmfulness of military recruitment.

Military recruitment couched in the language of positive political advancement is a dangerous presence on campuses, not only due to the misrepresentation, but also for the manipulative way in which such recruitment preys on motivated students who may fear that they won’t get another job opportunity of the same pay grade (the recruiting site explains that new hires start at $50,000 per year). Military recruitment should not exist inside the confines of academic institutions – all the more so when it is sold as a competitive career opportunity with travel benefits.