A newsletter plastered around the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, campus last week called for a ban on enrollment for U.S. military veterans seeking education in American universities.
The newsletter, which is titled “Social Justice Collective Weekly,” argues that military veterans are unfit for to be students on American college campuses because they might “openly mock the ideas of diversity and safe spaces” and because they have been “socialized” by a “military culture” that is “white supremacist.”
A four-year, traditional university is supposed to be a place of learning, of understanding, of safety and security. However, there is an element among us who may be frustrating those goals: Veterans.
UCCS is known for its number of veterans who are full and part-time students. But these veterans of much the school prides themselves on may be hurting the university. [sic]
First off, many veterans openly mock the ideas of diversity and safe spaces for vulnerable members of society. This is directly in contradiction to the mission of UCCS. Many veterans utter the mantra that they, “do not see color.”
But the problem lies in their socialization into the military culture that is that of a white supremacist organization. They have been permanently tainted, and are no long fit for a four-year university.
Writer and army veteran Paul J. O’Leary responded to the newsletter on Friday in a blog post, aggressively defending those who have enlisted in the armed forces: “Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a country where all of us are free to express our opinions in a public forum? Where we are all free to pursue educational excellence?”
O’Leary blasted the claim that the military is a “white supremacist” organization by mentioning that almost 20 percent of those enlisted are black. “If black service members make up between 17 and 20 percent of the military, versus 14 percent representation in American society overall, can this truly be described as a white supremacist organization?”
“With black, female, Hispanic, and Asian service members holding senior leadership positions across a vast spectrum of fields from combat arms to support to administrative, including generals and sergeants major, can this truly be called a white supremacist organization?” he added.
O’Leary reminds those behind the newsletter that military veterans who seek an education come from diverse backgrounds, both racially and economically. “This I do know — the veterans you fear and wish to keep from getting the benefits of an education come from many diverse backgrounds. Many of them could not afford college on their own and paid their way through hard work, sweat, and oftentimes blood,” he wrote.
“In the parlance of the 21st Century college student, I would ask you to please check your privilege,” he finished.
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Chancellor Venkat Reddy claimed that the institution “vigorously rejects the offensive viewpoints expressed in the flyer” and stated that military veterans are “positive and valued members of our academic and campus community.” Reddy seemingly condemned the suggestion of censorship as well, writing that “the notion that we should censor those who denigrate others, as censorship would have silenced many voices over the decades who needed to be heard.”