Federal aid protected for colleges banning military recruitment

by Mike Wereschagin

A recent change in a federal budget provision allows colleges and universities to bar ROTC units and military recruiters from their campuses without fear of losing federal student aid. But officials say it is unlikely the University will act on the change and remove military staff or programs from campus.
The military recruitment provision was tacked onto the U.S. Department of Defense fiscal-2000 budget late October. It nullifies the most controversial part of the Solomon Amendment of 1996.
The amendment required federal agencies to cut all funding to colleges and universities that bar military recruiting from their campuses.
Under the new provision, federal student aid is no longer at risk. Federal research grant money, however, can still be refused to colleges that violate the federal policy.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., added the language to the spending bill because he said ratification of the Solomon Amendment as it stood was a mistake.
“Punishing students for a university’s policy is completely unfair,” Frank said. “In most cases, they have very little say in how their college deals with military recruiting.”
A spokesman for retired Congressman Gerald B.H. Solomon said the amendment author was pleased the correction was made last month. He added that the original budget stipulation was never intended to punish students for a college’s actions.
Frank said he authored the provision at the urging of law schools in his district. Law schools will be most affected by the provision because most of their federal money comes from student aid, not research grants, he added.
“Law schools don’t often receive research grants,” Frank said. “The schools are able to live without them. They can’t survive without student aid money.”
Sharon Reich, associate dean of administration for the University’s Law School, said the school will not change its military recruiting policy because of the federal policy change.
She said the law school operates under the same guidelines and policies as the rest of the University.
“This does not affect things for the Law School,” Reich said.
The University maintains Army, Air Force and Navy ROTC units.
Department of Defense officials in Washington, D.C., said there is little chance of the units being barred from the University’s campuses.

Mike Wereschagin welcomes comments at [email protected]. He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3226.