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University of Michigan Law School’s Decision Decried by FBI

February 22, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday decried the University of Michigan law school’s decision to ban FBI recruiters for a year because a judge found that the agency had discriminated against Hispanic agents.

″We feel very frustrated in this process,″ said Milt Ahlerich, assistant FBI director for congressional and public affairs. ″How are we to strengthen, ... how are we to get top quality FBI agents on board if we are not allowed to come on to top quality campuses?″

Lee Bollinger, dean of the University of Michigan law school, said Wednesday that he imposed the ban in December - which will last through the end of the school year in May - after several students noted that the FBI was being sued in Texas by Hispanic agents over discrimination.

″The students said it was in violation of our placement anti- discrimination policy″ for such an organization to be allowed to recruit at the school, Bollinger said.

He said he wrote to FBI Director William Sessions about it in September, and almost as soon as he sent the letter, the judge in Texas ruled in favor of the Hispanic agents.

″This was systemic discrimination,″ not just a single situation, Bollinger said.

Sessions wrote him back, saying the FBI does not discriminate and asking that the agency be allowed to come to the law school to recruit, Bollinger said. In December, Bollinger wrote Sessions again, saying that ″for this academic year, we would not allow our facilities to be used″ by the FBI.

″He has still not responded to the Dec. 19 letter,″ the dean said.

Francis X. Beytagh, the dean of the Ohio State University law school, told The Washington Post for a story in Wednesday’s editions that that school imposed a ban on FBI personnel recruiting on campus but allowed it to continue distributing employment information.

However, Ahlerich said the situation at that law school had not changed.

″We were not on campus doing recruiting meetings″ before, he said, adding that the FBI has regular contact with the placement office there and meets with those seeking jobs at an off-campus office.

When the Ohio law school expressed concerns, ″We wrote them a letter that explained to them our policy,″ he said. ″The recruiting practices there have not changed at all.″

What triggered the University of Michigan law school limitations on FBI recruitment was a successful discrimination lawsuit filed by FBI agent Bernardo Matias Perez on behalf of 311 Hispanic agents. U.S. District Judge Lucius D. Bunton, who found last September that the FBI had discriminated against the Hispanic agents, is holding a hearing to determine how much the FBI should pay them as compensation for denial of promotions and assignments to unrewarding and hazardous duties. The agents are seeking $9.2 million.

Ahlerich noted that several University of Michigan campuses, including the Ann Arbor campus where the law school is located, allow on-campus recruiting by the FBI, but he urged the law school officials to ″revisit their decision.″

″Law schools are important to the FBI. Out of 9,500 on-board special agents, approximately 1,300 are law-trained,″ he said.

″We believe that agent applicants that have law training are particularly well-suited to the special agent position,″ he said. ″If the bureau is to be sensitive and particularly able to handle challenges of sophisticated crime problems that we have in this country today, including handling of civil rights investigations, we need very capable, sensitive applicants, and lawyers fill that role in many instances.″

Over the past three years, the FBI has hired about 1,855 special agents, of whom about 320, or 17 percent, are trained in law, according to figures provided by Ahlerich.

He said he knows of only one agent who was graduated from the University of Michigan law school.

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