Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

The House of Representatives voted 343-81 on March 30 to pass a bill that will require colleges and universities to permit military officials to recruit students on their campuses. However, opponents say it violates universities’ policies against discrimination of gays. If passed by Congress, the bill, H.R. 3966 or the ROTC and Military Recruiter Equal Access to Campus Act of 2004, will penalize those institutions who do not agree to host military officials by cutting any funding given to the school by the Department of Defense.

The bill is an extension of the Solomon Act, which was passed in 1995. The revisions require schools to provide the military equal access to students that is comparable to other prospective employers, rather than just requiring the schools to provide entrance to the campus. Schools must also submit a list verifying the names of all students participating in ROTC programs, and a statement saying the school will participate in the program the following year.

According to his Web site, Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., a supporter of H.R. 3966, said, “[T]he Homeland Security Act created several new science and technology research programs for which colleges and universities are eligible. This law says that these funds should not go to schools that discriminate against ROTC or military recruiters.” Universities who banned ROTC presence on their campuses include Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia among others.

Currently, West Chester University does allow military recruiters on its campus. However, because of the military’s policy regarding homosexuals, they must follow a different set of guidelines than other employers. “Recruiters from businesses, the government, and the military sign off on our WCU nondiscrimination social equity policy,” said Elizabeth Giangiulio, Director of the Twardowski Career Development Center. “We try to give equal opportunity to all employers. If they can’t sign [WCU’s policy], they must provide a copy of their policy and meet federal guidelines. Then they can participate.”

The Career Development Center’s Summary of Recruitment Policy/Procedures leaflet said that once an organization meets federal guidelines and is allowed to participate in placement activities, “it will be designated as one in non-compliance with the University’s Nondiscrimination/Social Equity Policy. All Twardowski Career Development Center publication materials…advertising that organization will note the following statement: The Nondiscrimination policy of this organization is not as inclusive as that of West Chester University.” The United States Marine Corps had such a disclaimer when they participated in this year’s Summer Job Fair, held on March 30.

However, there are some at WCU who do not agree with the military presence on campus. Jackie Hodes, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs, said, “The military’s nondiscrimination policy is not consistent [with] the nondiscrimination policy of WCU, which makes their recruiting on campus difficult and inconsistent.”

Sgt. 1st Class Foye, Station Commander at the Army recruiting station on East Market Street, said there have been no problems between the university and the station for as long as he has been there. He mentioned that officials are permitted to conduct interviews on and “roam around” the campus.

In addition to her disapproval of the Equal Access to Campus Act, Hodes said that the military should not be able to discharge its members based on sexual orientation. “I do not think that the military should be able to discharge LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) members. Currently, employers and states need to have non-discrimination policies to prevent LGBT people from being fired because they are LGBT…. not all employers have non-discrimination policies and many states do not as well.”

While the House has already passed the bill, it has yet to be approved or rejected by the Senate.

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