OK

When writing anything about the military, I feel like I should first reveal my own biases.  I do not believe that war is the solution to anything.  

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

I was a draft dodger from 1968 to 1971 until caught by the FBI at work in Coach's Corner Pizza in VInita, OK.  By the time of my arrest I had acquired a family.  So given the choice between 2 years in the Army and five years in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, I chose the Army…with the understanding that if it was going to happen that I be sent somewhere to kill someone, I could go on the lam again.

In its infinite wisdom and boundless sense of irony, the Army sent me to military police school.  I volunteered for correctional specialist school after that in order to preclude the possibility of being sent to Vietnam.  So I ended up in prison anyway, at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, KS…only on the outside of the bars.  I was then chosen to work in the Prisoner Pay section of the Finance Section.  For that work I received a presidential commendation signed by Milhouse himself.  I mustered out as a Spec 5.

I do not now know why anyone would choose a career in the military, but I do not believe that any citizen should be prohibited from doing so without a substantially valid reason for doing so (i.e. psychosis, past anti-social behavior, etc).

On to the news.  Dateline Brown University in Providence, RI:

Brown University President Ruth Simmons is catching flak (see the comments) (also here) for her stance against allowing ROTC on Brown's campus because of the military's ban on transgender recruits.

The military prohibits the service by transpeople via medical and conduct regulations, not by any act of Congress.  That will probably prove much harder to change than the mere overturning of DADT.

The school's Committee on ROTC released a report last June.  The committee also recommended that

1) that the 1969 resolutions determining that ROTC should be considered an extra-curricular program and that military officers teaching in an ROTC program should not be given faculty status based solely on their role in ROTC remain sound today and should continue to govern reconsideration of and decisions about the status of ROTC at Brown
2) that Brown should continue its cross-institutional arrangement with the Army ROTC program at Providence College
3) that I "engage in conversations with the Department of Defense" to learn how Brown students might participate in off-campus Naval or Air Force ROTC programs not currently available to them
4) that any proposal to expand ROTC opportunities be brought back to the faculty

After issuing the report, some members of the committee apparently asked Simmons in a letter not to expand ROTC on campus.

The separate missive from those committee members is indicative of the divisions in the campus community as a whole.

Those opposing reinstitution of ROTC on campus cite the following reasons:

  • Concerns about existing discrimination by the military (especially with regard to transgender individuals who are still not permitted to serve)
  • Opposition to recent wars undertaken by the country and to military solutions to world problems
  • A belief that the hierarchical approach of the military is antithetical to Brown’s open approach to learning, teaching and research.

Those in favor claim the following:

  • The majority at Brown is open to a return of ROTC to campus but the University is permitting a vocal political minority to deny this opportunity to students
  • The presence of ROTC on campus would make Brown more politically diverse
  • Brown should participate in developing excellent leaders for the military and help to reduce the perceived divide between military and civilian culture
  • Allowing ROTC on campus is consistent with the centrality of choice in a Brown student’s education -- they should be able to choose to participate in ROTC if they wish
  • ROTC scholarships would make more financial aid available for worthy students

Claiming that "concerted efforts to confront the legacy of discrimination against transgender individuals are certain to result in overturning discrimination against this group", President Simmons decides to join in that struggle.

The charge that, as long as the military discriminates against transgender persons, neither students at Brown nor the University should have any relationship with the military was thoroughly debated and considered. Of course, discrimination against different individuals and groups has been a significant dimension of the history of the U.S. military. Improper practices have included segregating units by race; limiting opportunities for the full participation of women, minorities, gays and lesbians; and defining eligibility for certain combat roles on the basis of social, gender and racial conventions. It has taken many decades for minorities to be fully integrated at every level of military service and throughout the service branches; some would say that full equality is still a work in progress as it is in society generally, particularly in view of the disproportionate number of minorities that now make up the military. The recent change in reference to “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is another indication of the long, unfinished struggle for equal rights and equal treatment in the military. Today, as Committee members and the Report rightly noted, transgender individuals have yet to be accorded equal treatment and access to military service.

Later in her letter (pdf), bolded by her, is the following statement:

We must do all in our power as an institution to carry the message to Congress, the executive branch, and the military establishment that the policy barring transgender individuals from military service must be changed. We have the capacity to mount the arguments, to influence others to assist in bringing the case forward, and to persist with this struggle until the proper ends are achieved. To do this would be entirely consistent with the tradition of the University, a tradition that saw students at Brown calling for the abolition of slavery in the earliest days of the University. Courage has never been in short supply at Brown and it will not be in this instance. Many speak about the importance of service to the nation through the military and they are correct. However, to root out the manifestation and vestiges of discrimination from our national life is an equally important dimension of serving the nation.

Ultimately, having been deemed a curriculum issue, the presence of ROTC on campus is up to the faculty.

Originally posted to TransAction on Sat Oct 22, 2011 at 02:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Milk Men And Women.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.