The anti-war protest, which drew between 35 and 50 protesters outside the office, sought to bring attention to current recruitment practices and how they “focus on people who have little access to opportunities,” according to UW sophomore and protest participant Joel Feingold.
Associated Students of Madison Academic Affairs Chair Ashok Kumar, one of the four arrested, said he and the other protesters walked in and demanded the office be turned into a financial aid office, symbolizing students who have to join the army to pay for college.
“We said we don’t believe people would have to kill themselves to get an education, [which] is a born right,” Kumar said, adding about 45 minutes passed before the police arrived and arrested them.
The protesters were passive and did not struggle when officers placed them under arrest, according to a Madison Police release.
“We were handcuffed and taken out, but weren’t mistreated by the cops,” Kumar said.
Ald. Austin King, District 8, said he applauds the students for their protest, particularly because they did it nonviolently.
“Nonviolent civil disobedience is definitely one of the most important tools that popular movements have used — it’s a great thing they did it nonviolently,” King said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to pretend that this action will end this ridiculous war.”
King added the symbolic request made by the four students was a valid one.
“For a lot of kids … the only way to pay for college is to put their body on the line,” he said.
The crowd outside the office, mostly comprised of UW students, chanted and sang songs, according to Kumar.
Kumar added he and the other sit-in protesters went in with the expectation of being arrested.
“That was the whole point. We wanted to get in there and … wait it out until we got arrested,” he said. “[We wanted] to make a point we will do whatever it takes to get out of this war or shut down [the recruitment station].”
Each student arrested received a citation of approximately $300, Feingold said.
“[They] were the people who were willing to risk exposing themselves to the law,” he said. “It was a real act of courage on their part.”