ROTC at the U: silent prejudice

The ROTC's discrimination policy is clearly in conflict with the University's policy of equal access regardless of sexual orientation.

It’s called the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But for young men and women in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, it means “don’t be gay,” because if somebody finds out you are gay, your ROTC career is over. No matter your skills, your dedication or your patriotism, if you’re gay, you’re out. It’s a policy steeped in homophobia and sadly, through it’s acceptance of the status quo, the University supports such a policy.

The ROTC’s discrimination policy is clearly in conflict with the University’s policy of equal access regardless of sexual orientation. But if the University were to sever ties with the ROTC, the penalties would be enormous. When Harvard Law School tried to challenge the policy, it was threatened with a loss of $328 million in federal funding.

This is not to say the ROTC is not an extremely beneficial program that provides opportunities to many who might not otherwise have them. The ROTC is a good program, but its discrimination policy violates the very principles the military swears to defend.

The military has dismissed nearly 10,000 people since the policy was instituted under the Clinton administration. Interestingly, since the United States has been involved in Iraq, dismissals are down 17 percent, hinting at the irrationality of the military’s stance. The military argues that it is crucial to military operations and especially combat situations that homosexuals be kept out of the military.

According to the military, allowing homosexuals would lead to decreased morale and trust. The same argument was used to keep women and minorities out of the military, but that reasoning has been proven false. Granted, initial tensions might exist between soldiers, but with the realization that their lives are mutually dependent, prejudice will subside.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” reinforces the worst stereotypes and perpetuates prejudice. The University’s silence is paramount to acceptance.