OP-EDS

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October 3, 2003

Federal funds, no strings

This university, along with other universities nationwide, has a strong non-discrimination policy, one that promises students equal access, regardless of "race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, age, disability." As well it should. The federal government is threatening to revoke funding to similar institutions with similar policies because they have the audacity to act on these policies. This governmental blackmail sets a dangerous and terrifying precedent, one that threatens universities' ability to enforce their standards for decency and respect.

Universities created and enforce these policies to foster communities of mutual inquiry, places where all students' ideas and abilities are respected. When a military recruiter comes to campus, sets up a table and effectively announces "Known gays need not apply," he clearly contradicts university policy. In these scenarios, the federal government is, in effect, demanding that universities substitute military judgment for its own.

The government is threatening to revoke funds for student grants, fellowships, scientific research, because universities are adhering to their policies of nondiscrimination. Universities have an obligation to be arenas for the exchange of ideas and the promotion of social justice. They ought to be centers for equality, held to the highest standards of human dignity and intelligence, places for the advancement of decency and respect. They are not, and should never be, places for the promotion of governmental agendas. Threatening the very institutions that produce some of the world's greatest leaders, authors, artists, entrepreneurs, teachers, students and citizens harms an entire generation of scholarship and progress.