Military Recruiters Get Official Welcome

For more than 20 years, military recruiters have been banned from working through the Law School's Office of Career Services because of the armed forces' discrimination against gay men and lesbians. The Judge Advocate General's Corps had nonetheless recruited at the school, as guests of the Harvard Law School Veterans Association, a student organization.

Federal law makes part of a school's federal financing contingent on its allowing military recruiters on campus. In 1998 the U.S. Air Force considered the law school's practice and determined that allowing recruiters to work through the Veterans Association satisfied the provisions of the law. Military recruiters had faced no official impediments elsewhere at Harvard.

Last year the air force revisited the question and in May informed Dean Robert C. Clark that the law school was no longer in compliance. Threatened with the University-wide loss of $328 million of federal funding, in August Clark reversed school policy and agreed to officially host military recruiters. (The first were expected in October.)

He announced his decision in a memo dated August 26. (It may be read in full at www.law.harvard.edu/news/2002/08/26_military.html.) "I have personally struggled with this issue," Clark wrote, "because I recognize the pain that some members of the community (especially our gay and lesbian students) will endure because of the change in practice. For many of us, a policy of nondiscrimation on the basis of sexual orientation reflects a fundamental moral value." At the same time, wrote Clark, "most of us reluctantly accept the reality that this University cannot afford the loss of federal funds...."

At press time, law school students and faculty members were said to be pondering various protests and possible legal actions.

Yale Law School, responding to a similar challenge from the U.S. Army, announced in October that it would temporarily suspend its ban on military recruiters while it determined whether the school's policies satisfied legal requirements. The school has allowed recruiters to come to the campus if the meetings were initiated by students.        

You might also like

Harvard Overhauls Disciplinary Procedures

To cope with violations of University statement on rights and responsibilities

Harvard’s Development Chief Departs

Brian Lee to step down at end of 2024

Immigrant Workers— America’s Engine?

Harvard economist Jason Furman on immigration and the U.S. economy.

Most popular

Mechanical Intelligence and Counterfeit Humanity

Reflections on six decades of relations with computers

Harvard Overhauls Disciplinary Procedures

To cope with violations of University statement on rights and responsibilities

The Placebo Phenomenon

An ingenious researcher finds the real ingredients of “fake” medicine.

More to explore

Relabeling Medical Definitions for Obesity in the United States

For obesity patients, improved treatments and a nuanced understanding of the disease may lead to better health.

How Was Brooklyn Bridge Park Planned?

Michael Van Valkenburgh and the making of Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Mystery Behind an Incan Tunic

Unraveling an Inca masterpiece’s secrets