Thursday, September 22, 2005

Harvard Chickens Out

Despite promising to bar employers who openly discriminate against gay and lesbian employees from recruiting on campus, Harvard reversed course yesterday and decided to allow the military access to its Office of Career Services. Why? Because the Defense Department threatened to withhold the $400 million dollars Harvard receives annually from the Federal government. Under the Solomon Amendment passed in 1994, the Defense Department is authorized to withhold funding from any school that denies military recruiters access to its campus. The constitutionality of the amendment will be tested by the Supreme Court later this year in FAIR v. Rumsfeld.

The question (from the limited research I've done) is whether academic freedom is protected under the First Amendment and therefore whether Congress can pass a law under its Spending Power that conflicts with such freedom. I haven't done enough research to have an opinion, so I'll leave it at that.

But a school with a 22 billion dollar endowment should be willing to stand up and defend their principles even at the loss of a few million dollars. It's not like Harvard needs the money. It's just sad to see people talk big, and then when push comes to shove, crack under pressure.

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