In response to the military recruiting on campus forced upon us by the Solomon Amendment, the Dean sent the following letter to the entire law school:
From: Dean Kenneth B. Davis, Jr.
Re: Military Recruitment at the Law School
Date: October 21, 2005
As many of you know, the Law School’s longstanding policy is that any employer utilizing the Career Services Office to recruit or employ law students or graduates must agree not to discriminate on the basis of age, race, creed, color, handicap, marital status, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, arrest record or conviction record. The faculty adopted this policy because we are attempting to nurture within the Law School a community of mutual respect and inclusiveness.
On Tuesday October 25, and possibly on one or two occasions during the spring semester, military recruiters will be here at the Law School to interview law students for summer and full time positions in the JAG Corps of the various branches of the military. Because the Armed Services permit gay men, lesbians and bisexuals to serve in the military only if such individuals neither disclose, nor act upon, their sexual orientation (commonly known as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule), permitting recruiters from the Armed Services to interview our law students is not consistent with our employer non-discrimination policy. This letter is intended to clarify why recruiters for the armed services are nevertheless being allowed to interview students here at the Law School.
Congress has adopted a provision, known as the Solomon Amendment, which requires schools to provide the military with full access to students for recruitment purposes or risk termination of certain federal funds. This provision has been interpreted to place at risk not simply any federal grant and contract funds of the Law School, but those of the entire University of Wisconsin. The Law School thus permits on-campus interviewing by military recruiters for pragmatic reasons.
The presence of military interviewers within the Law School should not be misunderstood to reflect a decision by the faculty to endorse the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, or to tolerate discrimination in any form. I want to reiterate the commitment of the faculty, administrators and staff to making the Law School, and the Office of Career Services, a welcoming and supportive place for all our students.
The fact that these interviews will occur does not mean that the Law School has retreated in any way from our strongly held view that our gay, lesbian and bisexual students should be able to seek any and every job for which they are qualified, and that they should be allowed to serve in those jobs with honesty, integrity and pride. Proof of this commitment is evidenced by the Law School faculty’s vote last spring to join FAIR (the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights), which is challenging the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment in a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
I want to underscore that the Law School is opposed to discrimination, not to military service. Generations of our students and alumni have served in the military; many are serving today. We are proud of them and grateful to all the men and women of the Armed Services for the sacrifices they make to defend this nation. It is because we hold the military in high regard that we believe it is especially important for all students to have equal access to the exceptional opportunities offered by the military to serve our country.
We at the Law School cannot, alone, change the hiring policies of the Armed Services. We can and will, however, make clear our own opposition to discrimination of any kind, and we will continue to do all that we can to assure our gay, lesbian and bisexual students, staff and faculty that they are welcome and valued members of our community.
Kenneth B. Davis, Jr.
George H. Young Chair
University of Wisconsin Law School
975 Bascom Mall; Madison, WI 53706-1399
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