Professors in the GW Law School recently voted by secret ballot to join the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, an alliance primarily composed of law schools from across the country. This coalition contends that the Solomon Amendment – a law revoking federal funding from universities that do not allow military recruitment on campus – is unconstitutional. The final decision on whether the law school will officially join this coalition is left up to Dean Michael Young.
At issue is not whether GW should keep a military presence on campus, but that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy effectively forces the University to contradict its anti-discrimination policy, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in any area of recognized student life. Universities cannot realistically challenge this discriminatory policy carried out on campus by ROTC groups because they risk losing millions of dollars in funding, under the terms of the Solomon Amendment, if they interfere with military recruiting.
While GW’s hands are tied in this matter, it is possible for an individual school within the University to oppose this action without GW being held accountable. Dean Young should validate the decision to allow the law school to join this coalition and stand up for gay rights. While the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was conceived in good faith, it has spiraled into yet another institutional form of homophobia. It is absurd that gay individuals can serve openly in every department of the United States government except the armed forces. The government’s policy of extorting universities by threatening to withdraw federal funding is morally reprehensible and directly counteracts academic freedom.
GW’s law school faculty should be commended for this act of courage. While 20 schools are members of the coalition, only four other law schools are publicly declaring their support. It is imperative that the Solomon Amendment, which is discriminatory and violates academic freedom, be overturned.