Harvard Poll Favors ROTC Recognition

From the Harvard Crimson, the student daily:

According to the results of a poll conducted last week of more than 1,700 Harvard undergraduates, nearly 62 percent of respondents support the official recognition of the Reserve Officer Training Corps as a fully supported student organization by the University—a move that would reverse a 40 year-old Harvard policy.

The poll—sponsored by the Harvard Republican Club—reflects the opinions of roughly a quarter of Harvard’s undergraduate population, and cuts across all bands of the political spectrum: 54 percent of respondent self-reported as Democrats, while 19 percent identified as Republicans and 27 percent as independents.

Shawna L. Sinnott ’10, a Marine ROTC midshipman, said she believed the results showed that the current generation is better able to distinguish individual ROTC members from the political issue of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the controversial policy that bars openly gay individuals from serving in the armed forces.

But critics of the poll said that none of the advocates of ROTC’s recognition have made public gestures to fully address the issue of non-discrimination and officially condemn the DADT policy, saying that without openly condemning DADT, only one side of the issue is actually being examined.

While I understand the ban in terms of not allowing student organizations on campus that discriminate on the basis of gender orientation, the discrimination in this case is required by law, a law passed by the US Congress and signed by the US president at the time, something that does not get any mention in this debate at all. The military, and hence the student organization in question, has no choice in the matter.

The criticism that “without openly condemning DADT, only one side of the issue is actually being examined” is about as one-sided as it gets. Whether or not openly homosexual men and women should be allowed to serve in the military is itself a valid question and shutting that debate down from the beginning is close-minded — it is demanding that only one side get to speak and that dissenting voices simply shut up. Having an open, honest debate that didn’t include the standard slew of ad hominem attacks masquerading as arguments is essential for the best resolution of this issue.

Finally, a quick correction to the reporter: There is no Marine ROTC. Navy ROTC has two tracks, Navy and Marine Corps, but it’s the same outfit: Navy ROTC.

Go on!

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