A group of students at the University of Toronto are trying to stop the Canadian Forces from holding information sessions on campus on the grounds that they felt it was wrong to recruit students to be trained “to kill and to fight wars.”
With all due respect to the 30 students who felt strongly enough about the issue to show up and protest the information seminar: you’re all wrong.
The seminar being protested was being held behind closed doors and only students interested in hearing the information were in attendance. Recruiters did not station themselves in the middle of campus with megaphones, they did not stage drills in the quad as demonstrations of active duty and they did not interrupt class time.
What they did do was provide information on a legitimate career option for interested students.
This isn’t the first time that a relatively small group of students has taken it upon themselves to protect their peers from the so-called evils of military recruitment. Back in 2008, the University of Ottawa’s student newspaper was forced to turn down all advertising from the Department of National Defence after a small group of students forced policy through at the paper’s annual general meeting.
Melanie Wood, the paper’s editor at the time, had her head on straight. She told Metro newspaper that “university students should be able to judge an advertisement’s message for themselves, and have information from all sources upon which to base decisions.”
And that’s what students at the University of Toronto should be allowed to do, as well.
Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. The protesters are allowed to believe that the military is wrong, that the war in Afghanistan is an imperialist push into Asia and that killing in every form is an incorrigible evil. But they are not allowed to force their beliefs on their fellow students.
Post-secondary institutions across Canada are filled with bright, intelligent and agile minds who are capable of deciding what kinds of information they do and do not wish to receive. If those people are interested in pursuing a military career path, they have a right to do so, and a right to learn about it in the comfort of their campus.