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From Draft NOtices, July-August 2000


Orange Glen H.S. backs down on its counter-recruitment ad ban after getting letter from COMD's attorney.

OGHS School AD
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With only one issue of the student newspaper left in the school year, the Orange Glen High School administration apparently decided it could not defend an earlier decision to reject a counter-recruitment ad submitted by COMD (see May-June 2000 issue of Draft NOtices).

The ad, sponsored by Orange Glen alumni Gary Ghirardi and Michael Boone, was submitted to the school newspaper staff in February. It was similar in theme to dozens of other ads COMD had placed in high school papers over the last 18 years. In the center was a photo of an injured soldier being helped on a battlefield, and above it was the headline: "College on the G.I. Plan." The rest of the text said: "Before you enlist, contact us to find out what military ads and recruiters might not be telling you. We can also give you information about educational and job training alternatives." Rather than allow the students to decide whether to accept this ad, the journalism advisor and school administration intervened and sent COMD a rejection letter. Attached was a copy of a school district policy that prohibits schools from distributing "materials" that promote any particular commercial, religious or political interest. Another part of the policy prohibits "advertisements which are inconsistent with school objectives or do not reasonably relate to the educational purpose of school-sponsored publications."

COMD's attorney, Dick Eiden, resubmitted the ad to the school with a letter disputing the relevancy of the policy. He noted that the first part of it did not apply to newspapers and pointed out that ads had been carried in the paper in recent years that promoted commercial, religious and political interests (i.e., ads for businesses and an anti-abortion counseling group and at least one Army recruiting ad), plus there had been several articles promoting JROTC and one hyping Army enlistment. Eiden also stated, "The COMD ads are completely consistent with legitimate educational objectives. COMD is enhancing your students' knowledge and, thus, assisting you in your objectives." Other school district policies were cited by Eiden that conflicted with the action taken against COMD's ad (e.g., a policy prohibiting school officials from exercising prior restraint against student journalists). And finally, Eiden noted:

COMD successfully challenged in court a similar ad ban by the Grossmont Union High School District in the 1980s. In that case, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that once a forum has been created by a school on the controversial topic of military service, it cannot provide access for only one side to present its views on the issue, regardless of whether it is a "limited public" or "non-public" forum. In issues of The Musket since 1995, there are various instances where the newspaper has been used to promote military enlistment . . . In the context of the Ninth Circuit ruling, intervention by school personnel to prohibit COMD's ads at this point would constitute viewpoint-based discrimination.

COMD never received a formal response to Eiden's letter, but on June 7, we received a copy of the last student newspaper of the school year. On the back page was our ad. There was also an ironic form letter that said, "It was a pleasure doing business with you. We look forward to serving your advertising needs in the future."

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (
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