Colleges lose battle with military recruiters

The Supreme Court made a ruling in early March that colleges receiving funding from the federal government are required to allow military recruiters on their campuses.

This case is called, Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), and is based around the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy the military has for homosexuals. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is the military’s policy that a gay person could be in the military as long as they don’t divulge their sexual orientation.

Law Schools were fighting having military recruiters on their campus because the military discriminates based on sexual orientation. The schools were fighting the courts because having recruiters on campus who discriminate could be an infringement on their rights, which is contradictory to the message most schools promote that discrimination is immoral.

The Solomon Amendment was a law passed in 1995 that stated if a college banned military recruiters from their campus they wouldn’t receive federal government funds.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of the schools in November, but that decision was overturned by the Supreme Court.

The freedom of speech claim was shot down, because the schools are free to turn down the money from the federal government.

Ward Carroll, editor for Military.com, a website that offers information about the military and recruiting but is not a part of the military, said the protest was flawed and college students should take offense to it.

“It’s an insult to undergrads, their professors are basically saying they can’t decide for themselves,” Carroll said. “There’s no difference [in recruiting] if it’s for the military or for a company like Proctor and Gamble as long as they’re not being dishonest about it.”

George Wright, history professor at Skyline College, has a different view on the military’s presence on college campuses.

“If it wasn’t the law I wouldn’t want military recruiters on the campus,” Wright said. “I’ve viewed two college campus career days and there has been a high percentage of military recruiters in contrast to public and private job opportunities. My reaction to this is, most Skyline students come from working class backgrounds and the military wants to target that group of students. As a faculty member, my concern is, I don’t want the military to trap students to go into the service because they feel they have no other options.”

Military recruiters have gotten a bit of a bad reputation, sometimes being labeled as aggressive or dishonest.

“They’re not pushy, they’re involved in sales,” Carroll said. “They’re not brainwashers, they don’t say ‘look at this pendulum swing back and forth’ and the next thing you know you’re driving a tank down the street. It doesn’t work that way. They can be pushy just like any salesperson can be and that can turn someone off. People who say that military recruiters are brainwashers are ignorant.”

Wright hasn’t personally experienced a military recruiting but has seen it happen.

“My impression based on limited sources, is a hassle is going on not in the interest of [the person being recruited],” Wright said.

Skyline student Angela Ratti is indifferent to Military recruiters on the campus.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Ratti said. “I can ignore them.”

Wright said that it’s important to educate students about the military because although the military may make themselves look appealing, it may not be that way in reality and students need to be aware of that.

“Students, within legal parameters, do have the right to voice opposition on campus,” Wright said. “I look at a campus as an institution that’s supposed to show young people the realities of the world and to benefit from the world around them.”

Carroll thinks campuses that benefit from government funding are obligated to have recruiters on their campus not only to remain true to the country but also to the college.

“Colleges need to do right by their student body,” Carroll said. “Student’s deserve intellectual freedom.”