Suspending a decades-old nondiscrimination policy, the Law School will allow military recruiters to participate in its campus interview program this fall, Law School Dean Anthony Kronman said Tuesday.
Under a 1996 law, Yale could lose $350 million in federal grants and other funding if it continues to deny access to recruiters from the armed services, Kronman said in a statement. Many Law School students have contended that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals violates the school’s commitment to nondiscrimination.
“The University is committed to complying with the law, but we intend to pursue a determination of whether the Law School’s current policy satisfies the legal requirements,” Yale President Richard Levin said in a written statement.
Like many other law schools, Yale requires all visiting recruiters to sign a nondiscrimination policy. Military officials have refused to endorse the statement.
Under pressure from the Air Force this August, Harvard Law School temporarily suspended its own nondiscrimination policy, opening the door for visits from military recruiters.
Kronman said Yale is already in compliance with the 1996 Solomon Amendment and vowed to defend the legality of the University’s policy. The suspension of the policy will be temporary until the legal issues are resolved, he said.
Under the policy, the military’s Judge Advocate General’s offices were not allowed to participate in formal interview programs. The school did allow JAG representatives to meet with interested students on campus and provided the recruiters with student names and information.
Each branch of the U.S. armed forces has its own judge advocate general’s office that is responsible for court-martials and other internal litigation.
Kronman said he proposed an arrangement last week to representatives of the Army’s Judge Advocate General that was “within the bounds of the [Law] School’s existing policy, in compliance with the Solomon Amendment, and attractive from the military’s point of view.”
Despite a favorable reaction from the Army JAG, Kronman said the University had not been formally notified if it was in compliance with the Solomon Amendment. Kronman said the University had no choice but to temporarily suspend the nondiscrimination policy.
“I wish that I had been able to reach an accommodation with the military and may yet be able to do so,” Kronman said. “In the meantime, we should take heart from the University’s willingness to defend the legality of our recruitment policy and to seek a determination of the correctness of our position.”
The Air Force Judge Advocate General will be on campus Oct. 4 and the Army JAG will come Oct. 9 for the Fall Interview Program, said Elizabeth Stauderman, director of public affairs for the Law School.
JAG representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Yale Law School’s Student/Faculty Alliance for Military Equality (SAME) issued a statement condemning the law and applauding the University’s decision to challenge the policy.
Matt Alsdorf LAW ’04, a spokesman for SAME, said there is a sentiment of outrage at the “strong-arm tactics” used by the Department of Defense. He said some students will hold a protest on Friday when JAG recruiters arrive on campus.
“Forcing Yale and other universities to choose between the dignity of their students and millions of dollars of funding is unconscionable,” Alsdorf said.
Lindsay Barenz LAW ’04, the chairwoman of OutLaws, the Association of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Law Students, said she does not think the military should participate in the recruitment program because of its discriminatory policies toward homosexuals.
“I think the main issue is that the nondiscrimination agreement is central to our community,” Barenz said. “There are students here, gay and straight, who would work for the military — we would welcome the military here if they would offer equal opportunity to all our students.”
Students, faculty and some employers participating in the recruitment program plan to wear pins and are distributing a petition in protest of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, SAME spokeswoman Daphna Renan LAW ’04 said.