Harvard's stance on discrimination in the U.S. military is about to effect its pocketbook. Under the provisions of the Solomon Amendment, this fiscal year Harvard Law School (HLS) stands to lose almost $1 million in federal grants due to its ban on military recruitment at its Office of Career Services (OCS). The ban, which exists because of the military's policy regarding homosexuals, is an important measure of protest that HLS should uphold. The loss of funding with which the law school is threatened is an act of aggressive financial coercion which inappropriately ties scholarship money to the school's right to uphold its on-campus non-discrimination policy.
HLS does not permit recruiters from any organization to make use of its OCS without signing a non-discrimination agreement. The U.S. military should be no exception. Regardless of one's opinion concerning the functional necessity of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, it does represent a form of discrimination against homosexuals. HLS has the right to keep any organization that maintains such a doctrine from making use of its facilities.
The conditions of the Solomon Amendment are fundamentally unjust. The measure denies certain federal grants to any school that prohibits or prevents "the Secretary of Defense from obtaining, for military purposes, entry to campuses, access to students on campuses, access to directory information on students, or that has an anti-ROTC policy." HLS would lose funds primarily from its federal work-study programs and Perkins loans grants.
If these funds were bestowed by the military out of its own budget, the Solomon Amendment might possess some validity on the basis of quid pro quo logic. But these grants are totally unrelated to the armed services; their revocation would only prevent needy students from pursuing an education.
The law school is hopeful that it will still receive the affected grants. An ROTC program exists at nearby MIT, representatives of the military are not barred from campus if invited to speak by individual students and recruiters are provided with directory information. But regardless of the outcome of this particular case, for the sake of students around the country, we hope Congress will reconsider the logic of the Solomon Amendment. If the military is having so much trouble gaining access to university campuses, perhaps it should reconsider its own policies before resorting to strong-arm tactics.
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