Iraq war veteran and Kent State student, Dave Airhart, is under attack for opposing the war he considers “unjust” and for attempting to stop any more students from being used as “cannon fodder.”
On October 19, the Kent State Anti-War Committee (KSAWC) stood around the Army recruiters, who had brought a rock-climbing wall to entice students over to talk with them. A member of KSAWC and former Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran, David Airhart decided to show his opposition against the war by exercising his rights of free speech. After filling out liability forms Airhart climbed the rock wall. Once he reached the top he took out a banner, which he held under his jacket, and draped it over the wall. The banner read: Kent, Ohio for Peace. Airhart was forced to climb down the back of the wall because a recruiter was coming up the front, yelling at him.
As he was climbing down another recruiter came up the back and proceeded to assault Airhart both verbally and physically by pulling his shirt, forcing him off the wall. Airhart was fined $105 by city police for disorderly conduct and told that he will have to go to judicial affairs at the university where he will face probation or expulsion.
When asked why he wanted to counter-recruit against the military Airhart responded, “I do not feel that the administration should allow the military to recruit their students for an unjust war that is taking the lives of innocent people. They should be protecting their students, not using them for cannon fodder.” The recruiter who assaulted Airhart was never charged with disorderly conduct; nor was the bigot who came by screaming profanities and spitting at KSAWC members fined for being disorderly.
Somehow an Iraq War veteran hanging a banner, which called for peace, was disorderly and the others were not. Even after the atrocities of the May 4, 1970 massacre at Kent State University the military has the audacity to come to campus and attempt to recruit students for their illegal war. However, KSAWC, which is a member of the national grassroots organization, Campus Antiwar Network (CAN), counter-recruits against the military every time they are on campus. We stand around the table of the military, hold signs, chant and pass out literature exposing the lies of recruiters.
The administration’s blatant attack against the antiwar movement will not be tolerated. We can clearly see that the administration does not want its students and veterans practicing free speech on this campus, especially if we are taking a stand against the war in Iraq. However, we will continue to fight.
We believe in getting troops out of Iraq now, as well as assuring that they have a voice to stand in opposition to the war when they return. It is obvious that the Kent State administration does not care about Iraq Veterans who attend their school. After everything Airhart had to go through and see as a soldier, after viewing thousands of innocent Iraqi lives being taken, he has every right to exercise his opposition to this war. The administration may have the audacity to punish an Iraq Veteran for speaking out against the war, but the Kent State Anti-War Committee will continue to fight back for all Veterans and students right to exercise free speech against the war. We will continue to challenge our administration’s role in recruiting for the war and demand our right to a ‘recruiter-free’ school. Call and e-mail the Kent State University administration and let them know how you feel.
University President: 330.672.2210
Dean of Undergraduate Students: 330.672.9494
Executive Director of the Undergraduate Student Senate:
NIKKI ROBINSON is a member of KSAWC, of the Campus Anti-War Network, where this article first appeared.