Military recruiting policy not so black and white

BY CARINA CUELLAR

THE DEBATE ABOUT HARVARD Law School’s position regarding military recruiters on its campus is not as black and white as outlined in last week’s articles in The Record. Why, I asked myself, are individuals so quick to play the outrage card when it comes to the military? It is at least an institution whose immense contributions to society are not questionable. Where is the outrage when law firms that have defended murderers, business leaders that have cheated their companies and stockholders, and companies that have released drugs they knew to have harmful effects – recruit on our campus? Their contributions to society are far more questionable. Of course, many on this campus would come to the defense of such law firms without hesitation because they make our legal system work, and, thus, are at least a necessary evil.

I sometimes wonder if those individuals so prone to denouncing the military and its policies understand that the military is not an independent and free entity. The military has to adopt all policies it is instructed to adopt by the President. The leaders of the armed forces are not permitted to question or to publicly denounce the President or his policies. The President declared the military would racially integrate long before this country finally decided to extend the same privileges to blacks, and the debate about integration was over the moment the President gave this order. Thus, if the policy toward gays is to change it simply requires that the President give the order. Therefore, if someone really wants the policy to change then they should lobby for it on Capitol Hill.

The idea that the military is unworthy to come onto this campus honestly horrifies and offends me. The military is an entity that over a million people are a part of and most of them serve this nation selflessly. Yet, if you ask many in the military whether students or professors at Harvard really respect its existence, the answer will be NO. The assertion that the military must meet Harvard’s standards to earn the right to visit Harvard is arrogant for many reasons. Where is the respect for what the military has done for Harvard and what it has done for all of us?

The military makes the articles written in The Record possible. The sacrifices of those in the armed forces are why we have constitutional rights and the opportunity to attend law school. It is in the very least a necessary evil since ultimately it is the existence of our military that makes our legal system possible. The military has provided in the past and continues to provide a service that allows Harvard Law School to exist.

We attend Harvard Law School and not Cambridge Law School. Let’s not kid ourselves here. The law school benefits from the Harvard name and Harvard benefits from its law school. Harvard Law School is not a separate institution and it just so happens that Harvard does accept federal money and benefit from the government’s generosity. I realize it would be preferred that institutions and individuals simply gave without thought of what was in it for them, but it is more than understood that when you accept millions of dollars in contributions strings will be attached. We would all laugh at Harvard if a corporation gave it over 300 million dollars and Harvard then in turn informed the corporation it was not permitted to come on its property. It’s up to Harvard to decide whether it wants to reject the requirements that are associated with the contributions it is offered.

Some students would have HLS ban military recruiters because they follow the policy dictated by President Clinton and continued by President Bush of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That’s clear and understandable and I am not allowed to debate this policy, but I will state that one policy does not negate the immense sacrifices and achievements of the Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. I am not ignorant enough to believe that HLS will permit military recruiters on its campus because it understands and embraces this fact, but despite this, it means a great deal to me that officers that serve this nation will be present at our law school in October. They represent selfless institutions whose contributions are not in question – unlike many law firms – and their presence to me is one way Harvard can thank the individuals who have died for the constitutional rights we worship on this campus.

Carina Cuellar, a 1L, is a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

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