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The ROTC After Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Nov 14, 2011

The repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy means that homosexual service members will no longer be forced to hide part of who they are. Education Insider takes a look at what this change could mean to Reserve Officers' Training Corp (ROTC) programs on college campuses.

By Jessica Lyons

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A Change in Law

Don't Ask, Don't Tell was initially signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and meant that homosexuals serving in the military could not openly admit that they were gay. According to a 2011 article from UCLA's Daily Bruin, about 14,000 individuals were discharged from service after they violated this policy. However, things are changing for homosexual service members. In December of 2010, President Barack Obama signed a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

This repeal will also extend to the military's ROTC programs, which are available for students interested in joining the Army, Air Force or Navy. Through these programs, students are able to train to be an officer and earn scholarships to help them pay for their degree. In return, they must make a commitment to serve in the military after they graduate.

Return of ROTC to Some Campuses

Specifically because of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, some higher education institutions, including Harvard and Columbia, would not allow ROTC programs on their campuses to oppose to what they viewed as discrimination. However, the repeal of this policy could open the doors for the program to return to some campuses. In fact, Ivy League schools have already expressed their interest in doing so.

In a November 2010 article in The Harvard Crimson, Harvard president Drew Faust stated, 'I want to be the president of Harvard who sees the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell because I want to be able to take steps to ensure that any and every Harvard student can make the honorable and admirable choice to commit him or herself to our nation's defense.' Faust also reportedly said that she is looking forward to further discussion about ROTC's potential return.

More Student Participation

For those schools that have always had ROTC available, the policy change could result in more students deciding to sign up. Students who may have been apprehensive about joining the ROTC because of their sexual preferences may now feel more comfortable doing so. James Glaser, the Dean of Academic Affairs at Tufts University, told The Tufts Daily in February of 2011, 'Maybe more of our students will find the military to be a career path because they won't have to compromise their identity to be part of it.'

Find out how Evelyn Thomas is fighting for the rights of LGBT students.


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