Boalt Students Protest Military Recruitment Policy

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The official brochure describes an Air Force judge advocate general as "a respected attorney, a trusted counselor and a polished military officer." Some Boalt Hall School of Law students would add, "and not gay."

As law firms across the country traveled to UC Berkeley to recruit law students, members of the Boalt Hall Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus prepared to launch a "personal protest" against the U.S military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Clad in business suits and white cloths tied over their mouths that read "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," five law students interviewed with judge advocate general recruiters at Hotel Durant. Occupying nine interview slots, the protesters filled up a third of the total interviews yesterday.

Interviews continue today.

Judge advocate general is a senior legal advisor position for the various military branches. The Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force each have their own judge advocate general departments.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was first implemented by the Department of Defense in 1994.

The Solomon Amendment, part of the U.S. Code, can deny grants and student aid to higher education institutions that prevent the military from recruiting on campus.

Tom Plummer, co-chair of the caucus, said the Department of Defense used federal funding as a way to pressure universities into allowing recruiters on campus by invoking the Solomon Amendment.

Every year, the caucus protests the military recruiters, but this year's protest split with tradition because protesters interviewed with the recruiters rather than picketing outside the building.

"(I want to) try to let the interviewers and organizations know that they are excluding very qualified

individuals with excellent credentials for reasons that have nothing to do with the job," said Gabriella Raymond, second-year Boalt Hall student and caucus diversity chair. Raymond was one of the five who was interviewed by Air Force judge advocate general recruiters to protest the hiring policy.

Judge advocate general recruiters were unable to comment.

In August, Dean of Boalt Hall John Dwyer sent a letter to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps explaining why he allowed recruiters on campus.

"We wish it to be understood that we admit students and educate them without regard to their sexual orientation, and we believe that every student who graduates from our institution will be an excellent lawyer and a loyal employee," Dwyer's letter stated. "Especially given the importance of the military in safeguarding our society, none of our students (indeed, no U.S. citizens) should be denied the chance to serve in the military based on their sexual orientation."

The caucus let the protesters choose their course of action once they entered the room for the interview.

"It's intimidating, walking into a space with an overt message that you're gay when you know that they condone a policy of discrimination based on sexual orientation," Plummer said.

In his letter, Dwyer said the risk of losing federal funding influenced his decision to allow military recruiters on campus.

"Acting in compliance with the university policy, which the law school is bound to follow, the career services staff made the arrangements for your interviews," the letter stated. "They did so because I do not want to place our university and its students at risk of losing essential financial aid."


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