If one student accepts one dollar of federal assistance his whole university becomes subject to extensive federal civil rights and affirmative action regulations. Those regulations intrude crudely into matters, like tenure decisions and the forms of expression thought to create a “hostile environment” for women and minorities, that are central to academic freedom. The public reaction to the system on the part of academic leaders and professional organizations has nonetheless been uniformly favorable.
It appears, however, that there are antidiscrimination rules academics don’t like: Law Schools Seek to Regain Ability To Bar Military Recruiters. An organization of law schools and a group representing hundreds of legal scholars has sued the government, claiming that academic freedom gives them a constitutional right to keep military recruiters off campus and still receive federal funds. It’s not clear why the eminent legal thinkers believe the right to discriminate against recruiters is more important for academic freedom than the right to choose faculty in accordance with their own standards and decide for themselves what people should be allowed to say on campus. I’m sure though that they’ll come up with an argument that’s as good as the arguments that won in Grutter.