District limits on-campus military recruitment 

In response to complaints from peace activists on the hot-button issue of military recruiting on campuses, the San Mateo Union High School District may limit the number of visits by recruiters to one visit per month per school.

The Board of Trustees is expected to pass a policy Thursday establishing the limits, which also would affect college recruiters and representatives from private companies. The move stems from complaints in January by Peace Action of San Mateo County, which wanted visits limited to three a year per school.

If approved, military recruiters would have to follow other provisions as well, including being confined to certain areas of campuses and being required to notify the school beforehand.

District board member Marcia Cohn-Lyle said some schools are visited more frequently than others based on how receptive they are.

"Each school has its own entity and run their own show in this regard," she said.

According to the district, since 2002, recruiters from the Army, Navy, National Guard and Marines visited Aragon and Mills high schools an average of twice a month while the Air Force visited once a month. At Capuchino High, recruiters visited five times a year. Recruiters visited once a month San Mateo High.

Sgt.1st Class Brian Knott, station commander of Army recruiting in Belmont, said the recruitment of high school students in San Mateo County is rare.

"Last year we hired one senior for the whole year [in the district]," he said. "That’s compared to other regions in the Bay Area that hire about 15 a year."

Since 2002, 114 students within the school district were recruited through military visits. At 25 students, Capuchino High topped the list with the most number of recruited students. That was followed by 24 students at Aragon High, 18 at Burlingame High and 13 at Hillsdale High.

Mike Caggiano, president of Peace Action of San Mateo County, said he supports the proposal even though the guidelines aren’t as stringent as he had hoped. He said minority students particularly are targeted by military recruiters.

"High schoolers are being heavily propagandized," he said. "You’ve got recruiters standing in front of big red Hummers with rock music blasting. But once you sign on the dotted line, you may change your mind, which is not easy to do in the military."

Cohn-Lyle said Thursday’s vote is aimed less at restricting military recruiters and more at setting a policy for all visitors, including colleges and private companies.

"I want to stress that this is not a wartime policy," she said. "This decision will remain long after Iraq. The district feels this is like any other job opportunity and the district doesn’t want to deny students an opportunity for a career."

The board meeting takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday at San Mateo Adult Resource and Technology Center, 789 E. Poplar Ave., San Mateo.

bfoley@examiner.com

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