ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) – Military recruiters can return to Southern Oregon University’s student union in April, said President Elisabeth Zinser, responding to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week.
The student government had prohibited military recruiting at the union, the only such ban in Oregon’s public university system.
The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled Monday that universities that get federal money such as student financial aid have to give military recruiters the same access to students they give other employers.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling I have decided to allow military recruiters to join all recruiters for the Career Fair on April 13,” Zinser said in a message overruling the student leaders.
She said she would have allowed military recruiters regardless of the court’s ruling.
“We were already moving in that direction,” she said in an interview with the Ashland Daily Tidings.
Her decision leaves open a question about recruiters who occasionally set up shop at tables in the union. Jonathan Eldridge, vice president for student affairs, said the administration will talk to students about whether the military will have equal access or whether that sort of recruiting will move to another building on campus.
In Oregon, as in the rest of the country, most schools had already been following the law the Supreme Court upheld.
The Associated Students of SOU passed a resolution in May barring military recruiters from the Stevenson Union because of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality, although recruiting continued elsewhere on campus, primarily the Hannon Library.
Student leaders said the military’s policy conflicted with the university’s anti-discrimination policies.
“There’s no legal amount of discrimination we can practice in here in the SU, in Ashland,” said Steve Ryan, a vice president of the student government and, as a student senator, author of the resolution banning the military recruiters. “There is a legal level of discrimination in the military.”
Zinser said allowing the military at the career fair will give students access to all recruiters. “We believe it’s important our students be broadly exposed,” she said.
Zinser approached student leaders in February with the idea of allowing military recruiters in the union for just the Career Fair.
But last week, student leaders approved another resolution upholding the ban, so Zinser sought advice from the office of Attorney General Hardy Myers.
In her letter to the student leaders, Zinser said the school is required to allow military recruiters at the Career Fair and that moving the event to another building was not an option.