No local peace at the Hawai‘i College & Career Fair

The Hawai‘i College & Career Fair has excluded groups that counter military recruiting from this year's fair.

James Charisma

Hawai‘i’s largest annual college and career fair begins next week with events held on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and the Big Island. Every year, more 12,000 students and families attend the Hawai‘i College & Career Fair (HCCF) statewide, with more than 200 representatives of institutions for higher education, including both public and private institutions, trade schools, businesses, visitor industries, and military recruiters. All are welcome to attend the event—except for local peace groups.

This year, the HCCF has excluded local Hawai‘i organizations promoting peace and “counter military recruiting” groups. Organizations like The Peace Squad on the Big Island, Hawaii Peace & Justice on O‘ahu, Careers in Peace Making on Maui, and the Alliance for Peace & Social Justice on Kaua‘i are youth advocacy groups that present middle and high school students with information designed to ‘counter’ slick military recruiter pitches, providing alternative ideas for youth besides enlistment.

“Without the local counter-recruitment groups participating at these fairs, minors will get heavily biased information, funded by our tax dollars,” says local activist Shannon Rudolph. “This is a blatant attempt to keep youth from getting full disclosure about military careers that they have a legal right to.”

The Hawai‘i College & Career Fair’s exhibitor registration policy states that the organization’s mission is “to provide Hawai‘i’s high school students, parents, and other interested individuals with information and guidance about post-secondary educational, technical training, and career opportunities.” To accomplish this, the organization brings together both educators and career professionals from Hawai‘i, the mainland and around the world to provide free information on post-secondary education, training and careers to the general public. The HCCF only admits exhibitors to their events that they “deem compatible.”

HCCF stipulates that exhibitors have limitations. Exhibitors cannot charge for services or information; offer products, services, or information not inherently free of charge to attendees or that may be deemed controversial to the mission of HCCF; and cannot interfere, disturb, or intrude in the exhibit space of fellow exhibitors. HCCF also reserves the right to deny an exhibitor’s registration if the they feel the exhibitor isn’t compatible with HCCF’s mission.

“If you want to know why we adopted the policy, the answer is in response to feedback from exhibitors, parents and students and in discussion with organizers of other college fairs,” the HCCF announced in a written statement. “There have been instances over the years of exhibitors charging students and families for services, aggressively going outside their designated booth areas and creating tension between exhibitors.”

To voice your opinion about this matter, send a message to HCCF through their website.