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New York University Law students protesting the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy prevented an Army lawyer from meeting with potential job recruits last week and promised similar protests when the Air Force and Marines send their recruiters to NYU later this year. On October 16, protestors linked arms to prevent access to the interview room where Captain Ann Zgrodnik, a lawyer with the Army’s Judge Advocate General, was to meet with students, according to one of the protest’s organizers, Peyton McNutt, a second-year law student and co-chair of NYU’s Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Law Students Association. The protestors said they were angered by the military’s arrival, since most on-campus recruiters must adhere to NYU’s non-discrimination policy, which includes a provision on sexual orientation. “We should let discriminatory employers know they’re not wanted at NYU,” said David Quirolo, a third-year student. “If any employer who comes to NYU has to sign a nondiscriminatory policy and the military refused to sign that policy, they shouldn’t be allowed here.” BETWEEN ETHICS AND CASH The law school had banned military recruiters for decades, but a recent change to a federal law known as the Solomon Amendment would have stripped $8 million in federal funds from the university budget if the law school had kept the military out this year. Before the revision, federal funds would have been denied only to the specific portion of the university that had barred the military recruiting. For NYU Law, this was a relatively small sum. “It’s extortion, pure and simple,” McNutt said. “It’s not right for the government to make the university choose between education and its ethics.” But one legal scholar who has studied the Solomon Amendment said not everyone agrees with McNutt’s characterization of the law. “Solomon, if you were to talk to him, would probably say that that federal funds are a benefit and not a right, and if you want a carrot, you have to do certain things,” said Jim Salzman, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law. The Pentagon refused to comment on the protests, but said it had no choice but to obey both the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the Solomon Amendment. “Our postion in the military is to abide by the laws that are put forward and made by Congress,” said Major Tim Blair. READY FOR MORE McNutt said the protests, which took about three weeks to organize, involved about 150 students. She promised the same disruption when the Air Force sends its JAG recruiter on October 30. “At this point, the military is on campus,” McNutt said. “But in terms of having a successful day on campus, I think we were able to prevent that.” For those who say this week’s protests violate the rights of students who might have become interested in becoming JAG officers, McNutt said all of Captain Zgrodnik’s interview appointments were with gay activists. And McNutt added that anyone seriously considering a military justice career has the option to meet with recruiters off campus. “I personally would be willing to provide contact information as long as they would be willing to meet off campus,” McNutt said. NOT SO SIMPLE? But while most students seemed to support the protests, wearing armbands and pins emblazoned “JAG Off,” one student said the protests oversimplified the issue of gays in the military. “Even if the military was discriminatory — which it is — it still might be rational for them to restrict behavior that its members would be uncomfortable with in a close environment where privacy is not protected,” said Brian Derdowski, an LLM student studying tax law. Derdowski, who said he once seriously considered becoming a military lawyer, nevertheless added that he supported the NYU protests and opposed the federal government’s ability to deny funds to schools that prevent military recruiting. Said Derdowski, “It’s important to preserve the ability of private institutions to effect political and social change.”

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