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President’s Statement on Military Recruiting on Campus
November 13, 2007
Amherst College respects those who choose to serve our country through military service and remains dedicated to providing our undergraduates opportunities to do so. Amherst is likewise steadfast in its commitment to our anti-discrimination policy; previously, the military was welcome to recruit on campus as long as they agreed to participate in public forums about the federally mandated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that schools must open their campuses without restrictions to military recruiters if the schools wish to receive federal funding—funding that helps support the first-class scholarship and research taking place at Amherst every day. As a result, we have opened Amherst to military recruiters without precondition. We will also sign formal agreements with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at UMass to ensure that our students may participate in its programs. We do not wish to hold the college apart from the armed forces, but rather to honor those who defend our nation.
At the same time, we still believe it is important to emphasize the college’s ongoing concern about discrimination under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Because we consider it our responsibility as an institution of higher education to promote meaningful discussion of these issues, we will continue to invite military representatives and others to participate in forums whenever recruiters visit Amherst. I will work personally to bring a broader focus on campus to these crucial issues by convening a panel in February of recent alumni who currently serve or have served in the U.S. military, and by hosting General Wesley Clark and renowned Northwestern University military sociologist Charles Moskos for a colloquium debate in April on reinstituting the draft.
We believe our new policy is consistent with the law, consistent with our policy opposing discrimination, and consistent with our support of students and alumni who choose to serve in the armed forces. We look forward to further discussion about this; an open conversation on these matters is in the best interest of Amherst College and higher education in the United States today.