Recruiter visit raises concern

Administrators at the Yale Law School have refused to assist military recruiters, who they say enforce discriminatory hiring practices. But a visit from a Marine recruiter to Woolsey Hall last week suggests that Yale’s policy toward military recruitment is less clear at the undergraduate level.

Because outside recruiting of any kind is not allowed in Woolsey Rotunda, the Marine — who said he frequently visits Yale’s campus — was asked to leave for another location on campus. But in response to a complaint from a student who told the recruiter he was gay and was turned away from enlisting, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said the University is reevaluating its current recruitment policies.

The student, an activist who asked to remain anonymous because he has not revealed his sexual orientation to friends and family, said he complained to University officials, who told him that because of the University’s anti-discrimination policy, action would be taken to prevent further potentially discriminatory encounters.

“The whole situation, what happened, and Yale’s policies are currently being reviewed by the General Counsel’s office,” Salovey said. “It is certainly the case that people from outside of Yale, from organizations of any kind, should not be in the Woolsey Rotunda recruiting.”

Military officials said the University knew this recruiter would be coming to campus and that the Marines have a history of recruiting at Yale and plan to continue doing so in the future. Yale officials said it is the policy of the University to treat military recruiters like other employers and if they want to visit the campus, they have to work through the Undergraduate Career Services office.

“At Yale College we allow military recruiters to recruit through career services,” Yale President Richard Levin said. “UCS schedules the time and place for Yale recruiters to come on campus. I guess our view has been that Yale students who wish to consider the military ought to have the opportunity to have on-campus interviews.”

Salovey said UCS permits recruiting by the military provided that recruiters agree to see students on a non-discriminatory basis. The University’s published anti-discrimination policy, which applies to all persons affiliated with the school, specifically states that students cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

Philip Jones, the director of Undergraduate Career Services, said in an e-mail yesterday that UCS has occasionally received inquiries from the military regarding recruiting and that in such situations, the military is treated the same as other employers. Jones declined to comment further.

Martha Highsmith, the University’s deputy secretary, also said that the Woolsey Hall area, where the recruiter was stationed, is not supposed to be used for recruitment.

“As to the unscheduled visit by the U.S. Marine Corps representative last week to the Woolsey Hall area, my office made clear when we learned about it that he could not do any recruitment there,” Highsmith said in an e-mail Monday, adding that UCS, not her office, was responsible for the recruiter’s presence.

But Cpt. Ryan Olivieri, the recruiter, said he usually makes arrangements through UCS and that the University knows he is coming in advance.

Campus military recruiters operate under the “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy of the Department of Defense, which states that homosexuals are allowed in the armed forces only if they are not openly gay. Marine Staff Sergeant Amanda Hay said that while there is no set policy for recruiters regarding sexual orientation, they are not supposed to actively inquire about a student’s sexual orientation. If a student does say that he or she is gay, the recruiter is supposed to tell them they cannot enter the military.

“Homosexual conduct is not compatible with military service,” Hay said.

Hay added that in her five years working with the Marine recruitment department in New York and Long Island, this was the first time that she had heard a complaint from a college student.

Olivieri said before last week, no one had ever openly expressed his sexual orientation to him during a recruitment conversation at Yale. Since the incident, Olivieri was told by officials that he was in a private location and would have to leave but that he could move to another location on campus. Olivieri added that he recruits often on Yale’s campus and that officials said he could return in the future as long as he continued to obtain permission from the University.

“I generally get a good reaction from students,” Olvieri said. “It is usually a really pleasant environment.”

Alexi Zervos LAW ’05, a member of OutLaws — an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law students — said that he had not heard any previous complaints from Yale College students about sexual discrimination from military recruiters, but he added that may be because students do not realize the implications of the military’s policy toward gay people.

“I do not think most college campuses are as aware as law schools of the legal implications of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and the impact such laws have on human rights,” Zervos said.

Although military recruitment on college campuses is just as discriminatory towards gays as at law schools, Zervos said that law students are more focused on the issue.

Zervos said there has not been any specific effort at the Law School to expand activism efforts to Yale College.

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