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College recruiters complain about ban

A rule devised for military recruiters and foes also limits high school access for universities.

By THOMAS C. TOBIN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 15, 2007


A new policy that regulates on-campus access to Pinellas high school students is starting to draw complaints from some top college recruiters, school superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Friday.

He said a handful of "fairly prestigious academic programs" - including Harvard University, the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago - have expressed displeasure.

Wilcox said he expects similar complaints to roll in as the school year wears on.

Under the policy, students may see a college recruiter before school starts at 7:05 a.m. or during the 30-minute, end-of-day lunch period. Previously, recruiters were allowed in during the school day, and students could be pulled out of classes to see them.

Initially, the focus of the policy was to give access to Veterans for Peace, an antiwar group that wanted to present students with alternatives to the messages being delivered by military recruiters who frequented campuses. When the School Board decided to limit access to certain times of the day, college recruiters were swept into the mix because all groups had to be treated equally.

"It was probably an unintended consequence but not an unanticipated consequence," said Wilcox, who long resisted the policy, contending the district didn't need it.

"We knew all along it was going to be difficult."

He said Harvard representatives complained this week when they ran into a time crunch trying to visit students at St. Petersburg High and Palm Harbor University High at opposite ends of the county. Because the new rules confined them to the 30-minute lunch period, they could visit only St. Petersburg High and ended up spending the rest of the day at a private school in Hillsborough County.

Wilcox said he planned to seek input from guidance counselors in a few weeks to see if the policy is causing other problems. He said one solution might be to schedule more college nights at a "well-advertised time where a lot of kids can see a lot of recruiters."

[Last modified September 15, 2007, 00:07:15]

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