Despite the outcry, partially led by the Yale Law School, against Army Judge Advocate General recruiters in law schools across the nation, the Army JAG program has actually seen an increase in applicants in recent years and JAG recruiters plan to return to the University this year, recruiters said.
On Yale’s campus, military recruiters said they have encountered student hostility and a general lack of interest. But James Blacklock LAW ’05 said he was not deterred from interviewing with recruiters. As both Law School student and faculty lawsuits against the Department of Defense over the Solomon Amendment — a federal law that bars federal funding to colleges that ban military recruiters from campus — await a judge’s decision, the campus has promoted a united, liberal front. But Blacklock does not wear rainbow colored anti-JAG buttons.
Last spring, Blacklock interviewed with JAG recruiters because he said he was generally interested in learning more about the program and what it entailed.
“I 100 percent support the military interviewing on campus,” he said.
Blacklock said instead of shutting itself off from the JAG program because it does not agree with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, the Law School should encourage students to enter JAG and affect change from within.
“I think it is a shame that when smart people are needed the most — you deny the military the right to interview and recruit those students,” Blacklock said. “They [anti-JAG students and faculty] do a lot of complaining and a lot of finger pointing but they do not take any action to make anything better.”
Despite the numerous anti-JAG protests, Blacklock said that he did not encounter any more open hostility other than a “few dirty looks” in passing when he went to interview with the army JAG recruiter. He said for the most part his classmates respected his right to interview.
Despite the activism of their more liberal classmates this past spring, other conservative law students also said they did not feel open aggression towards them.
“We are definitely an intellectual and political minority and that can be uncomfortable at times and in the classrooms, but I do not think the atmosphere is hostile here,” Joshua Hawley LAW ’06 said.
Though conservative students said they recognize the generally liberal stance of faculty members and Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh on the JAG issue, including Koh’s status as a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, they said that they respected faculty viewpoints.
Associate Law School Dean Mark LaFontaine said the dean’s office had not heard complaints from conservative students about the faculty’s involvement in the anti-JAG movement.
Irina Manta LAW ’06, a member of the Yale Federalist Society, a conservative group, stressed that even though Koh is the dean of the Law School, he still holds the same political opinions he had before assuming this role.
“It would not be good if Dean Koh did anything to make conservative students feel uncomfortable, but I have not heard about anything like that happening,” she said.
Blacklock said that he recognizes that Koh represents the vast majority of the views of the faculty and students, so he said he does not have a problem when Koh speaks out against JAG, but he said does wish that Koh would not be so openly liberal.
“I wish that he would be more even handed and try to represent more sides and more viewpoints,” Blacklock said.
A representative of the Army Judge Advocacy General’s office said that JAG recruiters plan to recruit at Yale again this year despite student hostility.
“Generally we have seen protests and that is their right to do so and we respect that,” the representative said.