Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sticking it to military recruiters

An article on antiwar.com (located through blogsnow.com) tells how two high school students sought to subvert the ASVAB tests.

For my New Zealand friends, “ASVAB” stands for “Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery” and it’s a multiple-guess test given to high school students to make it easier for US military recruiters to put the hard-sell on students finishing high school. When I was in high school, we were told it was mandatory, though there’s some question about this. I seem to recall that in my day it was also boys only.

I hated not just the test but also the very idea of the thing. I was no screaming radical in high school—in fact, I was a Republican. But I felt very strongly that the military had no right to compel students to take a test that would be used to try to cajole, coerce or hoodwink high school students into joining the military (there was no war or even draft registration back then). Let them offer it as an option, I said, but nothing more.

So I took the stupid test, and—with the little bit of competitiveness that I possess—I actually made a reasonable effort to do well. What did I get for my trouble? Dozens of phone calls from recruiters trying to convince me to come in for “a little talk” (it got so bad that I very nearly was driven to tell them to get lost—I didn’t swear much in those days).

I also got months of military recruitment propaganda mailed to my house several times a week, as if I’d suddenly think, “Gee, I’ll give up a university education and go enlist because of all these pretty brochures I keep getting in the mail.” Yeah, right.

It all went away after I went away (to the university I was headed toward in the first place). But the resentment never did. I wish I’d had the ability and courage of the two students in the antiwar.com article, but I didn’t.

One thing the article told me that I didn’t know was that Bush’s failed “No Child Left Behind” programme gives military recruiters unhindered access to student records. Add it to the way too long list of reasons why I can’t wait until this pResident is finally out of the White House.


Jason in DC said...

There is an opt out option but of course it's something people have to tell the military.

US Today did a story on it: http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2006/11/debating_the_mi.html

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks for the link! I had no idea there was an opt-out option, but, like the National PTA I think it should be opt-in. It's dishonest for the military to say they're only after the same access that universities get. I found them to be highly aggressive, and media reports these days show that hasn't changed.

Here's a clickable link to that story Jason supplied.

Here's a clickable link to the main USA Today story.