WASHINGTON, DC—The Supreme Court decision upholding military recruiters on college and university campuses is a victory for students’ right to think for themselves, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni said today.
“This decision puts an end to the blatant hypocrisy of institutions which deny military recruiters while accepting billions in federal funds,” said ACTA president Anne Neal. “It’s a sorry statement when it takes a Supreme Court decision to show why our colleges and universities need to give students basic information about possible careers and the defense of our country. Trustees should waste no time putting their institutions on record as welcoming military recruiters and respecting the right of students, as individuals educated to think for themselves, to make their own decisions, including supporting or opposing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”
In late 2005, ACTA released data documenting the extraordinary sums that higher education institutions receive from the federal government subject to the Solomon Amendment and launched a national campaign asking trustees to guarantee access to military recruiters on campus. In letters, ACTA called on trustees to ensure that students are able to make informed decisions about whether to pursue a military career, rather than hiding behind faculty and administrators’ opposition to military recruiters on campus.
The Solomon Amendment, which requires colleges that take federal money to accommodate recruiters, was struck down last year in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as violating the First Amendment rights of higher education institutions. Faculty and administrators at a number of elite universities—including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Columbia—had in the past prevented recruiting on campus. These institutions had argued that the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy violates their anti-discrimination policies.
The Supreme Court rejected these arguments and concluded that the Solomon Amendment neither limits what law schools may say nor requires them to say anything.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a national organization of alumni and trustees dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability in higher education. ACTA members represent more than 200 colleges and universities across the country; it is located in Washington, DC.