Petition may ban military recruiters

Jessica Rothschuh

The Kent State Anti-War Committee began a petition last week to bar military recruiters from campus, citing the military’s “policy of discrimination based on sexual orientation” as the reason for the petition.

Chris Kok, senior international relations major and Kent State Anti-War Committee member, said the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy discriminates against homosexuals and breaks the university’s anti-discrimination policy.

The University Digest of Rules and Regulations, which states university policies, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“It’s a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, not a witch hunt,” said Maj. Joseph Paydock, ROTC admissions officer. “What (the military is) saying is we do not condone homosexual lifestyles. It’s for keeping the force united.”

Harvard Law School successfully banned military recruiters from its campus based upon a similar argument last year, according to The Associated Press.

In the court decision, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also struck down the Solomon Amendment, which cut federal funding for schools that banned military recruiting.

“Students have been really, really receptive,” said Noah Learned, member of Kent State Anti-War Committee and former Kent State student. “No one’s been confrontational about it.”

Though the petition is focused on ending discrimination, most students said their reason for signing was because they were tired of the “annoying” phone calls from military recruiters, Learned said.

All groups recruiting on campus must be sponsored by a department or student group. The military groups are sponsored by Career Services.

“We are a state school and we receive subsidy from the government,” said Ami Hollis, assistant director for Career Employment at the Career Services Center. “We work to support not only the armed services but other governmental agencies.”

Career Services also invites the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to its career fairs.

Hollis said the U.S. Army is part of Career Services’ Employer Partnership Program.

All employers in the program pay between $250 and $750 in dues in return for Career Services’ assistance with marketing and promotions on campus.

“The Army has a lot of opportunities for students who don’t have a degree and who do have a degree,” Hollis said. Tuition reimbursements and medical benefits are some of these.

“Fortune 500 companies often can’t match the benefits,” Hollis said.

Assuming the group meets its goal of 2,500 signatures, it will present the petition to the university administration within a month.

Sheryl Smith, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Campus Life, said she is unsure if the petition could get the recruiters removed but said it is worth trying.

“Technically, our policies have obviously allowed the recruiters on campus,” Smith said. “Anytime any student wants to bring any issue up, it’s a viable reason.”

Brenda McKenzie, associate director in the Office of Campus Life, said she has never heard of any group being barred from the grounds.

“In the time I’ve been on campus, that really hasn’t happened,” McKenzie said. “There’s no real limitation to who can or can’t be on campus.”

If successful, the petition would affect all military recruiters with the exception of ROTC, which recruits on campus for its own program but is not affiliated with other military recruiters.

Learned acknowledged ROTC’s commitment to keeping students on campus. Students in ROTC are not deployed until after they have finished degrees.

“I don’t see (ROTC) having a reaction,” said Paydock. “We have a job to do, and that’s what we’re doing. This program is a positive part of this community.”

Contact student politics reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].