No books for oil

The Supreme Court unanimously decided on March 6 to uphold a law forcing law schools to allow military recruiting or forfeit all federal funding. Since when did the United States government become Pepsi or Nike, or any other commercial group that proclaims, “Advertise our product or no dinero”?

Essentially, the fine print of the Solomon Amendment – the main subject of the court case – is that a university’s ability to be well-funded and improve the well-being of its students is secondary to the pimping of war. And not to get political, but in a Newsweek poll in August 2005, 61 percent of Americans don’t support the current war in Iraq. But hey, college students never feel strongly about war, right? Wrong.

Even on our woefully apathetic campus, protests have flared up. The Queer Caucus at the Law School protested last month at Snell Library in response to the arrival of recruiters. Military recruiting on college campuses is a touchy subject, particularly during wartime, but surely the U.S. government, can come to a better compromise than draining enormous amounts of money from its universities.

The touchier subject, as far as universities are concerned, is what reaction the gay and lesbian community will have regarding forced military recruitment. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy essentially requires gay men, lesbians and bisexuals to mask their sexuality. Gay rights advocates aren’t fond of the policy, and how will groups like the Northeastern University Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay Alliance cope with that attitude on campus?

Shouldn’t the government’s top priority be to ensure higher education for all students, and not send those same students to fight in Iraq or elsewhere? Whether you support the war or not, you can’t sit there and say the government should deplete the funding of universities to better support the war effort, particularly for a war lacking support from the American people.

Though the high court ruled that the Solomon Amendment is constitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous opinion that law schools can still “express whatever views they may have on the military’s congressionally mandated employment policy, all the while retaining its eligibility for federal funds.”

“Nothing about recruiting suggests that law schools agree with any speech by recruiters,” Roberts wrote, “and nothing in the Solomon Amendment restricts what the law schools may say about the military policies. … Students and faculty are free to associate to voice their disapproval of the military’s message.”

Which is to say Northeastern can still hold protests against military recruiting on campus and argue that schools should not have to choose to halt federal funding if they do not want military recruiters on campus.

The entire university should hold those protests if it is passionate about challenging the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Protests should be scheduled here at least monthly, if not weekly. Students and professors should contact their congressmen through letter-writing campaigns. Perhaps members of the Northeastern community should create, promote and frequently update a Web site dedicated to informing people about the movement.

The university should not let this governmental blackmail go unchecked.

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