COLUMN: The military must leave the schools

Erin Roof

Kent State likes to tout its commitment to diversity. The administration says it embraces students of all ethnicities, ages, religions, genders and sexual orientations. Yet, it allows one of the largest discriminating organizations in the country to freely use the campus to further its discrimination.

The U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy “is the only law in this country that authorizes the firing of an American simply for coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual,” according to Under this policy, a service member can be discharged simply for stating he or she is gay, lesbian or bisexual, engaging in physical contact of a sexual manner with a person of the same sex or marrying, or attempting to marry, someone of the same sex.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” blatantly discriminates against gays, lesbians and bisexuals. This military policy demands service members conceal large aspects of their identities or risk losing their jobs.

Schools began barring military recruiters in the 1980s to protest homosexuals and bisexuals not being allowed to serve openly. Military recruiters should also be banned from Kent State University because their presence directly violates the university’s own anti-discrimination policy.

The problem is Kent State could not ban recruiters even if it wanted to.

In 1995, Congress passed the Solomon Amendment, which denies federal funding to schools that ban military recruiters. Since then, it has strengthened the legislation, passing an amendment this year that explicitly states universities must give military recruiters equal access as provided to other recruiters.

Yale Law School faculty members fought the amendment, arguing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” goes against their nondiscrimination policy. Yale, like Kent Sate, requires that all recruiters on campus must consider applicants regardless of sexual orientation.

Last November, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in Yale’s favor. The court overturned a lower court decision in SAME v. Rumsfeld and ruled that the Solomon Amendment is unconstitutional. The ruling hinged on the idea that schools have freedom of speech rights and can choose which organizations are allowed on their campuses.

The Supreme Court will soon make a decision on the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment in FAIR v. Rumsfeld. FAIR is a group of law schools that refuse to tolerate employment discrimination against their students. FAIR contends the Solomon Amendment violates students’ First Amendment rights by denying funds to schools that do not support recruitment that blatantly excludes portions of the student population, those who are openly gay, lesbian and bisexual.

The Supreme Court should grant a victory for free speech and demand the equality of all citizens by ruling the Solomon Amendment unconstitutional. This would be a first step to legally ending the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Once the Solomon Amendment is defunct, Kent State will have no excuse to continue to allow military recruiters on campus. Doing so would effectively say the university tolerates and promotes discrimination against the LGBT community.

Military recruiters must go.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].