For the second time in four months, law students donned gags and protested the appearance of military recruiters at a Yale Law School interview program Thursday.
Recruiters from the Air Force, Army and Navy Judge Advocate General corps, or JAG corps, attended the Law School’s February interview program Thursday, prompting protest from about 30 law students. The students wore gags and hoisted rainbow flags to voice their opposition to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality.
The JAG visit and protest repeated a similar confrontation in October, when Law School officials temporarily suspended its nondiscrimination policy to allow the JAG recruiters to attend an interview program.
In the past, Yale officials did not allow JAG recruiters to access the computerized recruitment schedule from the Law School career services office because the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy violated the Law School’s nondiscrimination policy.
Last spring, however, Yale officials received notification that their policy violated the Solomon Amendment, which requires that law schools allow military employers full access to students or risk losing $300 million in federal funding. Yale officials said they would appeal the notification that their policy violated the Solomon Amendment.
Law School Dean Anthony Kronman did not comment on the current status of negotiations with the federal government. In the past, Kronman has said the University intends to fight the Department of Defense’s claim and preserve its non-discrimination policy.
Law School professor Robert Burt, who called himself a “strong supporter” of the Law School’s policy, said the Department of Defense has provided no definitive response to the Law School’s insistence that their nondiscriminatory policy is consistent with federal law. While the military has not yet directly accused the Law School of failure to comply with the Solomon Amendment, Burt said Department of Defense officials have threatened the $300 million in federal funding.
“This is a bullying tactic,” Burt said. “Even if we manage to take this issue to court, our funding may be temporarily cut off, and all federal research will stop.”
Burt said the Law School must exhaust all administrative possibilities before the issue can go to court. He said the dispute may remain unresolved for a long time.
During Thursday’s event, approximately 30 law students donned gags and pins as Alexi Zervos LAW ’05 read a statement encouraging students to support gay and lesbian classmates and defend the Law School’s nondiscrimination policy.
After Zervos’ statement, protesters observed a moment of silence for those not allowed to express themselves openly in the military. The pins and gags, used during similar protests in the fall, symbolized the feelings of students who condemned the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy towards homosexuality.
Students also signed a letter to Yale President Richard Levin calling for him to work toward a clarification of the Law School’s legal compliance with the Solomon Amendment.
Lindsay Barenz LAW ’04, chairwoman of OutLaws, the Association of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Law Students, called Thursday’s events a “small display of solidarity for our gay and lesbian classmates.”
Barenz said after the moment of silence that she was proud of the Law School community for coming together and showing support for each other. She said not one student had signed up to interview with the JAG recruiters — a goal the group had pushed for in the last few months.
OutLaws had encouraged first-year students looking for summer jobs not to interview with the military recruiters who joined other recruiters in interviewing law students at the Holiday Inn in New Haven Thursday.