Military supporters seek DSU status

The Dalhousie and King’s Council for Serving Members is seeking ratification with the DSU and have submitted a proposal for a new war memorial on campus.

There are more than 170 student societies between Dalhousie University and the University of King's College that cater to a diverse range of student interests. But one campus group feels the needs of the military community aren't yet served.

"We're like ghosts on campus," says fourth-year King's student and member of the Canadian Forces, Jason MacGregor.

It was that sentiment that prompted him to seek ratification for the Dalhousie and King's Council of Serving Members with the Dalhousie Student Union two weeks ago.

"It's a voice that hasn't been heard," says Dr. Gary Thorne, chaplain at Dalhousie and King's, and the group's faculty adviser. "But it's a voice that really needs to be heard."

The Dalhousie Student Union did not ratify the group last week due to a glitch in its computer system and its decision to require some amendments to the group's constitution. But the DSU put the group's status up for review at a committee meeting this afternoon.

MacGregor says he started the group, which is currently on Facebook, to bring together students in the military but also to dispel some perceptions of soldiers on campus.

"I've heard comments over the last four years saying very negative things, not only about the military, their policy, but also about students in the military," says MacGregor.

"Things like... we've been tricked into being in the military, being baby killers, being overseas for the oil and the resources."

Others see the military in a different light

MacGregor's intentions may be good, but there are those who are critical of the armed forces.

"I don't see it as a noble profession," says 35-year-old Chris Maxwell, member of the Halifax Peace Coalition.

"But I'm not surprised they feel they need more community than just in their own unit."

MacGregor says he hopes to have group meetings at least once a month for members to share experiences and network. He emphasizes that the meetings are open and that their goal is not to recruit or start arguments.

Thorne confirmed that the group would remain a separate entity from the military.

"It will have no formal status [with the Canadian Forces] whatsoever," he says. "They will not be able to speak on behalf of the military even if they wanted to."

MacGregor has already submitted a proposal to the president of Dal to install a war memorial on campus to commemorate students who have served in the military, both past and present.

"It's mostly for respect," says MacGregor. "Especially for the alumni who died in the war. Especially in WWII. They died for our freedom, which is cliché, but it's true in every respect."

Installing a war memorial, however, doesn't settle well with everyone.

"I'm not particularly thrilled with the current meaning given to the cenotaph," says Maxwell, "that serving in the military is a glorious thing."

MacGregor disagrees.

"It's noble," he says. "I think 95 per cent of people in the military, especially students... they do it for the purpose, they believe we're making a difference over there. I know I believe that."

MacGregor should know by tomorrow if his group will be ratified, and he is still waiting to hear from the president about the memorial.


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