UPDATE [1/27/11]: After commenting on the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” President Obama addressed the issue of the ROTC on college campuses in the State of the Union speech on January 25th. “With that change, I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiter and ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”
While speaking at Columbia University on September 11, Republican presidential candidate John McCain criticized the school’s ban on the ROTC program — a program (which stands for Reserve Officer’s Training Corp), which trains college students to be military officers while they are still in school. Although McCain offered lots of accolades to Columbia — where, in fact, one of his daughters attended — he argued that the ROTC ban excluded students from an opportunity that many would find rewarding.
So why does Columbia — along with a number of other schools across the U.S. — ban the ROTC program, which is a staple on many college and university campuses across America? Columbia’s ban is in protest of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” regarding homosexuality. Established under the Clinton administration, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy basically says that it’s OK for gays to be in the military, as long as they don’t openly identify themselves as gay. In turn, officers are not supposed to inquire about anyone’s homosexuality, therefore allowing gays the opportunity to serve in the military as long as they remain silent. Open homosexuals are barred from serving in the military, so if they identify themselves as gay, they get thrown out.
Columbia University, along with many gay rights supporters, feel this policy is blatantly discriminatory and inhumane to people who are willing to put their lives on the line for America, so they’ve banned the ROTC from campus in protest.
Is Columbia right to do so, even though this prevents students on its campus from choosing the ROTC option? What do you think?