In the past week, students and faculty at college campuses across the nation have protested military recruitment efforts at career fairs because of the military’s policy of prohibiting enlisted homosexuals from revealing their sexual orientation.

But at the University, campus organizations have no plans to protest the military’s table at today’s job fair in the Michigan Union.

The military has come under fire because of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy – which discourages military service people from discussing their sexual preferences – is in conflict with he nondiscrimination policies of most colleges and universities. Many institutions across the country, including the University of Michigan have clauses in their bylaws that restrict discrimination based on sexual orientation. For this reason, many schools at one point barred military recruiters from coming to campus.

But a 1994 federal amendment, known as Solomon’s amendment, allows the government to strip schools of federal funding if they do not allow military recruiting. For this reason, many schools were forced to allow military recruiters to participate in job fairs and seek potential employees.

Today’s job fair, organized by the University’s career center will feature about 90 organizations. Kerin Borland, senior associate director of the career center, said the military has attended the yearly fair on multiple occasions in the past.

No one at the University has approached the career center upset that the military will be attending, Borland said.

“For us the biggest issue is providing students with access to opportunity,” she said. “For the students who have interest in the military, we want to provide that access.”

She said the decision whether or not to attend the fair or visit the military’s table is personal and that students are free to decide, based on their interests and values, to pursue the types of organizations most interesting to them.

The University Stonewall Democrats, an arm of the College Democrats that protects the rights of the LGBT community, will refrain from protests, co-chair Jaya Kalra said.

Kalra said she was not aware of the military’s presence at the job fair, but Stonewall Democrats would not have protested if they had known.

“I feel that this is the kind of change that needs to be institutional and that just protesting a few military guys doing their job isn’t going to help,” Kalra said, adding that the group also does not have enough time or people to organize a protest and that it is currently focusing its attention on convincing members of the University Board of Regents to add the phrase “gender identity and expression” to the nondiscrimination clause of the University bylaws.

Kalra said she is against the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward homosexuals because their sexual orientation is often revealed anyway and they are given a dishonorable discharge.

“What happens is they put a pressure point on homosexuals’ colleagues because the military is not allowed to discriminate outright,” she said. “You have men and women who are enlisting who really want to serve the country but are being told they can’t for a silly reason.”

Students at schools like the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Harvard University and Yale University have recently voiced concerns to their administrations or have held protests about military recruiters being on campus.

At Stanford, a group of law students, called the OUTlaws, held a successful protest Monday when military recruiters arrived on campus, co-president and Stanford Law student Michael Angelo said.

The group passed out pins promoting equality, wore camouflage shirts and covered themselves in duct tape with the words “Don’t ask, don’t tell” written on it.

They also had their own table in satirical protest of the military’s, calling it a non-hospitality table with cookies on it.

They posted signs on it that said only heterosexual students could eat the cookies.

Only two people signed up for interviews with the recruiters and both signed up to protest the military’s policy. After the first sign up, the recruiters left, Angelo said.

“They had come to the conclusion that no one was legitimately interested in talking to them,” he added.

Angelo said the protest was effective.

“It was really important to let the military know we are not just going to stand idle,” he said. “It also let the university know that LGBT students are against allowing recruiters to come to campus.”

Last November, the legality of the Solomon Amendment was successfully challenged in a Philadelphia federal appeals court by 24 universities collectively called the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights or FAIR.

But by a vote of 327-84, the U.S. House of Representatives supported the law in February, leading the Bush administration to appeal the federal appeals court’s ruling to the Supreme Court.

The University is not a member of FAIR.

“It’s clear at this point that the Solomon Amendment is binding law, and until something changes, that there isn’t any room for conversation,” Law School Dean Evan Caminker told The Michigan Daily in December 2004.

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