Yale schools vary on military recruiting policy

In past wars, Yale University’s campus has been filled with students almost entirely in uniform. Today, while some students push to bring Reserve Officers Training Corps back to campus, other professors and students are involved in lawsuits against the Department of Defense over the issue of military recruitment on campus. But in spite of this storied and at times controversial relationship with the military, there exists no University-wide policy for the treatment of military recruiters.

While opponents of military recruiters visiting campus have been vocal at the Law School and Divinity School faculty recently voted not to allow any open recruiting on campus, there exist no specific recruitment policies at the School of Management, Graduate School and the School of Medicine. At the undergraduate level, military recruiters are treated like other employers and allowed to visit the campus through Undergraduate Career Services, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said.

“UCS permits recruiting by the military, provided that they agree to see students on a non-discriminatory basis,” Salovey said.

Some students and faculty members have argued that, because of alleged discrimination by the military toward homosexuals since 1992 under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, allowing recruiters on campus disregards the University’s nondiscrimination policy — a policy given prominence in the faculty handbook, the personnel policies and practice manual for all staff, and also the bulletins of Yale College and the graduate and professional schools.

If a student tells a military official that he or she is gay, the recruiter is instructed to terminate the interview, Marine Staff Sgt. Amanda Hay told the News last week. The surfacing of an alleged incident of discrimination at the undergraduate level prompted the University to question its policy on military recruiters last week.

Vice President and General Counsel Dorothy Robinson said in an e-mail that military recruitment on campus is supported to some degree by undergraduate administrators.

“There are strong reasons why undergraduates — who, after all, are mature and intelligent people — should not be denied access to information about the military and its functions,” Robinson said. “Many Yale alumni have served in the military, and there are good reasons why the offensive policy of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ may be better changed from within than from without.”

At the Law School the non-discrimination policy has been in effect since 1978 and has been a long-standing concern of faculty and students, Yale Law School spokesperson Janet Conroy said. Currently the Law School does not actively help military recruiters because of this concern.

But Robinson said the controversy surrounding the court cases over the Solomon Amendment — a federal initiative that threatens a university’s federal funding if the school does not offer military recruiters treatment equal in scope to that of private employers — began at the Law School because the military specifically inquired into and challenged that school’s policy.

Besides the Law School and the Divinity School, most of the other schools do not have set polices towards recruitment.

At the Graduate School, there is no set policy because recruitment on the campus at the graduate level is uncommon Graduate School Dean Jon Butler said.

“Overwhelmingly, graduate students apply for academic positions and post-doctoral positions and positions in industry, and very few recruiters come to the campus to recruit graduate school graduates,” Butler said. “It’s simply a different mode of seeking employment.”

Although some medical students join the military to pay for medical school, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said his school also has no specific policy concerning military recruitment.

The School of Management also does not have a set policy, Yale SOM spokesperson Tabitha Wilde said.

“We wouldn’t turn away recruiters if students are interested, but the jobs have to be for MBAs,” Wilde said in an e-mail Monday.

According to the SOM’s Career Development office, military recruiters have not contacted the SOM to recruit MBAs and students have not expressed interest in military jobs after graduation.

Yale professor emeritus of history Gaddis Smith ’54 GRD ’61, who has studied the institutional history of the University, said he was surprised that individual schools within in the University take different approaches to military recruitment on campus.

“I was puzzled to see that Levin did not object to recruiting on campus for undergraduate level,” he said, adding that there has been no historical precedent for the debate over military recruitment.

Since 1898 and the Spanish-American War, Yale students have been actively involved in the military. In World War I, Yale had its own privately financed military training program and in World War II almost everyone on campus was in uniform.

“The military did not have to come to Yale,” Smith said. “Yale was going to the military.”

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