21 April 2012

Why They Should Say No To ROTC

A while back, I talked about the campaign to bring a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program to York College.  

Well, it seems that York is not the only school where there's at least some interest in starting or restoring an ROTC program.  In spite of the media's portrayal of colleges as bastions of left-wing politics and anti-militarism, there has been more support for the programs--and the military in general--since 9/11.  Even in schools like Harvard, where the few students enrolled in ROTC have to go to other colleges for their "leadership" classes, some students and faculty members thank the ROTC cadets even though, as one pointed out, "we haven't served yet."

The support 9/11 has generated for the military seems to have been aided, at least on college campuses, by the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  However, no one should be fooled into thinking that the Armed Forces have suddenly become bastions of tolerance.  For one thing, we all know that a change in policy doesn't necessarily translate into a change in attitudes, let alone culture.  From what I have read and heard, homophobia is still just as strong as it's ever been, and known gays and lesbians face harassment and worse.  While it's been reported that the harassment that drove Army private Dan Chen to his suicide was motivated by bias against his ethnicity, there are also rumors that it was motivated by the perception of him as gay.

Even I have overstated the level of homophobia to be found in the military, there is still the fact that transgenders still aren't allowed serve.  At least, we can't transition while in uniform.  And, to the best of my knowledge, no branch of the Armed Forces will allow someone to enlist if he or she has already transitioned. 

Of course, there are other reasons not to have an ROTC program on a campus.   But if any school claims to support the rights of all, and to oppose discrimination, its administrators are being duplicitous, or simply hypocritical, in having the military in any form--including ROTC--on campus.