Don't ask, don't tell? Students disagree
Over 50 protestors challenge Army's 'discriminatory' policy after recruiter visits Law School
February 26, 2007, 5:00 am·
Why can two men hold guns but not hands?
This was the question of the day at the Law School last Friday, when colorful posters bearing that phrase and others plastered the building's walls.
Dozens of stickers that read "Shame on JAG" (the Judge Advocate General's Corps in the Army) were likewise stuck on about 50 protesters' bodies.
The posters and stickers were indicative of the protest, organized to challenge a U.S. military officer who came to recruit Law students.
In the past, Penn Law - which has a non-discrimination policy that includes the protection of sexual minorities - has banned the military from coming to recruit Law students in the building because of the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bans openly gay individuals from enlisting.
But the Law School was forced to let in the army officer in compliance in order to comply with the Solomon Amendment - reaffirmed last March by the U.S. Supreme Court - which mandates that all schools within a university must provide equal job-recruitment access to the military, or the entire university will lose federal funding.
Despite this mandate, students and faculty united against both the military's presence at the Law school, and the policy in general, in a protest organized by Lambda Law, an organization for LGBT Law students.
In total, six students out of over 200 signed up to interview with Capt. Jon Pavlovcak, the representative from JAG.
And of the six interviews, three were another form of protest.
Seth Blinder, a third-year Law student, revealed to Pavlovcak midway through his interview that he is gay, telling the recruiter he would be an asset to the military if he were allowed to join.
"I asked him how he felt about the policy," Blinder said. "He said his personal viewpoint did not matter."
Pavlovcak said he had no opinion in regard to the protest.
"It is often called the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, but it is actually a law passed by Congress," Pavlovcak said. "To the extent that I've sworn an oath to the Constitution and Congress, that is what I do."
Some at the Law School felt the protest was disrespectful - particularly the sight of "Shame on JAG" stickers on the door where the interviews were taking place.
"I'm from a military family. I feel we should be welcoming them," first-year Law student Keven Schreiber said as he tacked up signs that read, "Support the JAG Officers."
The military has not been allowed inside the Law building for the past 10 years, said Gary Clinton, the Law school's associate dean for student affairs.
Clinton, who is openly gay and spoke at the protest, said he did not feel it changed anybody's mind, but he said it is good to make a statement.
In the meantime, the University has not officially changed its own nondiscriminatory policy, said Crystal Deazle, the Law school's co-associate director for Career Planning and Placement.