Widgets Magazine

Senate hears “Opposition to ROTC” bill

The Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution Tuesday opposing the discriminatory policies of ROTC in an effort to educate the student body.

After reaching the required number of eight senators to have quorum, the Undergraduate Senate started its meeting several minutes late, with Senators Ben Jensen ’12 and Carolyn Simmons ’13 joining the meeting from their study abroad locations via Skype.

Before the ROTC discussion, all funding bills for the evening were passed, and Publications Board Director Alice Nam ’11 and assistant director Zachary Warma ’11 discussed plans to create a publications media center on the second floor of the Nitery for use by all campus publications next year. Nam also put a bill on previous notice to redefine the role of the Publications Board director for next year, which will be debated for next week.

“We want to rethink how publications are funded on campus since a lot of them seeking out special fees,” Warma, a former Daily staff member, said. “We would like for our publications to have the best papers, the best layouts possible and we sit on a significant amount of money to do that.

“The Publications Board wants to expand its institutional presence, teach classes and be the driving force for a more vibrant publications culture on campus,” he added.

Nam also addressed the pending petition to bring a case to the Constitutional Council against the appointment of Warma to the Publications Board, which has yet to be accepted.

“I don’t see how I’m able to do my job currently because I’m supposed to propose a funding bill that The Claw is a part of, so it needs to be proposed by a different director,” Nam, who is the editor in chief of literary magazine The Claw, said. “This bill would help fix that.”

The main discussion of the night centered on a bill proposed by Senator Robin Perani ’13 and Senate Associate Alex Kindel ’14, titled “Resolution in Opposition to the Return of ROTC to Stanford University.” Kindel was not present for the proceeding discussion about the bill.

The original bill, which was later replaced, cited an obligation to protect the interests of all students, including transgender students, but voiced support for current ROTC cadets who participate in off-campus programs. It therefore opposed the return of ROTC in accordance with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.

Debate over the bill lasted for almost three hours as Senators discussed the language, the technicalities of the nondiscrimination policy and the intent behind passing such a resolution. Members representing the LGBT community and Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL) were present as part of the open forum.

Perani said that she felt it was the duty of the ASSU to protect minority groups’ rights, and therefore take a firm stance on the ROTC issue.

“[Transgender students] can’t serve openly, so ROTC will still violate the University nondiscrimination policy, and while DADT has been repealed, it has not been implemented yet,” she said. “The way we have ROTC now, people can be involved, just off campus. We are representing them by voicing our support for them off campus, but because the military discriminates against sexual orientation and not on any rational basis, we can’t allow it.”

Both Warma and Senator Rebecca Sachs ’13 expressed concerns with the bill as proposed.

“I think having Stanford students participating in ROTC and being able to have a dialogue on campus adds a very positive value,” Warma said during open forum. “If the ASSU is supposed to represent all students, regardless of the size of the group, the ASSU has to hear all voices and that cuts both ways. I don’t think there’s a place, particularly with the election coming up, for you to be weighing in on this. There’s a chance for transgender students and their allies, and ROTC cadets and their allies to weigh in…but I don’t think this is something this body should be injecting itself into.”

“The issue I see is that the student body is going to be voting this, if the student body has the opportunity to voice their opinion and their opinion should be held over ours…We should not speak for them when they have the opportunity to speak for themselves,” Sachs said.

SSQL co-president and Daily staffer Holly Fetter ’13 said that she believed this was a way for the Senate to show that the “nondiscrimination policy has teeth.”

“I have to wonder what Stanford’s values are if it wants to bring back an institution that discriminates blatantly against transgender students, and people disabled mentally and physically…that seems really flawed to me,” she said. “This is not about trans students versus military students; this is a basic issue of upholding the nondiscrimination policy.”

Army ROTC cadet Jimmy Ruck ’11 was also present to discuss his experience in the ROTC program, and clarified that transgender students would be able to participate in ROTC courses offered at Stanford. He also mentioned that discrimination within ROTC stems from federal policy.

“The military is under the subordination of the civilian leadership of this country, it’s a federal issue more so than a Stanford issue,” Ruck said.

After Senator Will Seaton ’13 voiced discomfort with the bill as it currently stood, Senator Pat Bruny ’13 suggested changing the language of the bill to specifically state opposition to the discrimination perpetuated by the ROTC program, and not against the program itself.

During this debate, Fetter chided the Senate for not taking a stronger stance against ROTC.

“[The revision] is another symbolic gesture where you can pass a bill that doesn’t say anything,” she said. “Be strong, be Senators, or else this seems to be like a lot of political bullshit.”

After Senate Chair Madeline Hawes ’13 called for a recess, the remaining Senators drafted a new resolution with consultation from members of the open forum titled, “Resolution to Acknowledge and Oppose the Discriminatory Nature of ROTC’s Policies.” The new bill, which did not include the original support for off-campus ROTC programs, was passed unanimously by the nine senators present.

“Students should know that what we’ve passed now, which is opposing the discriminatory policies of ROTC, is very different from what the students will be voting on Thursday and Friday, which is to support or oppose the return of ROTC,” Senator Khaled Alshawi ’13 said.

“In terms of support or not supporting the return of ROTC, the Senate is not taking a stance,” Bruny said following the vote. “We’re just saying we oppose the policies of the program that violate the nondiscrimination policy that the University has set forth.”

  • john

    “…state opposition to the discrimination perpetuated by the ROTC program, and not against the program itself.”

    Don’t you guys have better ways to waste your time than this double-talk nonsense?

    The Democrats controlled the Presidency and Congress for two years (2009, 2010). Obama is still President. You should hold Obama and the Democrats responsible for the policies of the ROTC.

    Why don’t you make another one of your useless proclamations to advocate impeachment of Obama?

  • Sebastain Gould

    Are ASSU senators supposed to represent the entire student body? How will they if the student body cannot be polled?

  • Um

    Wait, the Senators don’t want ROTC here, but they think its ok for students to participate off campus and want to encourage them to do so? Are we too good to have ROTC here? What is it about Stanford that allows us to have the civilian leadership that sets the policies, government funding for research and the Hoover Institution, but not the soldiers doing the actual work on the ground (that they have no control over)?

  • Amanda

    What a waste of time. Just let the ROTC come back. If SSQL don’t like the military, they can advocate for changes by the federal government, not at Stanford.

  • Ridiculous

    I think this is totally stupid to be discussing. There are much larger issues at Stanford, but I will say this: There are Catholic groups on campus (http://catholic.stanford.edu/) and I am sure that you are aware of the fact that the Catholic church defines homosexual behavior as a sin. And I am not saying that all Catholics believe this (many of them don’t and I am a Catholic that believes in gay rights), but that is stated in the religion. Much like the ROTC, there are probably plenty of people who would rather have a more open and transparent policy rather than “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If you’re not going to let ROTC on to campus, you should look into other groups as well that don’t support gay/lesbian/transgender rights…

  • Sarah

    I agree that this bill is symbolic and not all that useful, but at least the ASSU is acknowledging that the military and, by extension, ROTC, is a discriminatory body.

    Do you believe it is right to poll the student body on the rights of others? We would never poll the student body to ask whether or not African American students on this campus should be allowed to attend classes in, say, the philosophy department. Both the concept and the vote would be considered absurd. Why is the situation any different when we are talking about our friends, neighbors, and peers that are transgender, intersex, or that have disabilities?

    I can’t speak for the senators. We encourage students to participate off campus because that is the status quo, and those students should not be asked to stop what they are doing. Yes, I believe that the military MUST change its policies. If ROTC comes to Stanford, Stanford will violate its own non-discrimination policy – a grievous injustice and a dangerous slippery-slope precedent for student rights on campus and worldwide. ROTC should not come to Stanford because it discriminates against students who are protected by Stanford’s policies; if the ROTC comes to Stanford, some Stanford students will become second-class students and citizens.

    I can’t speak for SSQL, but activism attempts to affect change EVERYWHERE. That means here at Stanford, in a small town in Iowa, in Baltimore, AND with the federal government. There is more than one way to affect change; advocating for change in the federal government is only one way. That said, advocating for change at the federal level is synonymous with fighting for change on the ground. That means protecting Stanford students. The lunch counter sit-ins in the South did not directly target the federal government, but can you say that those sit-ins were not important in the fight for civil rights?

    I stand in solidarity with transgender students, intersex students, and students with disability. Stanford should not violate its own non-discrimination policy. I will be voting abstain on Measure A because although I do not believe ROTC should return to Stanford on the above grounds, I hold firmly that the rights of the minority should not be put on the ballot box for the vote of the majority (of which I am part in this case).

    Sarah

  • Sean

    Sarah,
    1) The military will never be able to accept many students with disabilities, based upon the nature of their profession alone. I find it hard to believe that you or anyone would argue ROTC should not be permitted on campus because of this necessary selectivity. Do you believe surgical residencies at Stanford’s medical school should be kicked off campus as well? They do not allow individuals with certain disabilities as well.
    2) Though I disagree with whether ROTC should return, I do agree that transgender individuals should be permitted to serve. It is indeed true that at present some transgender individuals are prohibited from service (not all are prohibited, it depends upon which category of transgender you are considering). However, most of the regulations that effectively prevent their service simply stem from outdated / outmoded medical policies which are themselves derived from the American Psychological Association’s diagnostic manual, both of which have yet to be updated to represent current medical and psychiatric opinion. To characterize it as a civil rights issue wherein the military is actively, blatantly and purposely affronting transgender individuals I think is inaccurate, and treating it as such is unlikely to affect the change that you want to see. Though I do think you should continue to raise the issue, and applaud you for doing so, preventing ROTC from returning to Stanford is not the best way to go about it, especially since future Stanford ROTC graduates, as military officers, could well be in positions of authority to change current medical policies to reflect your views.

  • Erica

    Since when do we say that an organization with a policy we disagree with can’t be part of Stanford?

  • Cowards

    The senators, yet again, show why they are useless to the student body. Honestly, you know that your job is useless when I could write a program in a half hour that would accomplish exactly what the ASSU does. When it comes to acting on something that actually matters, what do our beloved senators do? They back off and instead unanimously agree that it’s wrong to discriminate–but they were too damned cowardly to actually DO something about that wrong. Amen to the comment that it’s double-talk bullshit.

    “If SSQL don’t like the military, they can advocate for changes by the federal government, not at Stanford.”

    Right, because if there’s something wrong that we have an influence on here, on our campus, that we’re paying $50k a year to attend, we shouldn’t try to change it here, but instead on the federal level? Do you even hear yourself?

  • Re: Sarah

    Sarah, I appreciate your response, but you haven’t answered my question, what is it about Stanford that makes it ok for us to say that we are “too good” to have ROTC but can have the other things on campus that are discriminatory? If you are against having ROTC here, how can you support it anywhere? You can’t hide behind the cloak of “we don’t hate the military or the students who participate in the military, we just don’t want them on campus,” it would like Stanford saying, “hey we aren’t prejudiced against transgender people, we support them going to other schools or belonging to outside trans groups, we just don’t want them here or want trans organizations on campus.” The vast majority of ROTC supporters have not claimed that the policy against transgendered people in the military doesn’t discriminate, it clearly does, we just don’t see how keeping ROTC off campus, and furthering the stigma and separation between the military and ourselves, and making it difficult for the people who serve in the military to be fully integrated into campus life, is going to help transgendered people. Its also hypocritical because we allow the civilian leadership, organizations such as the Hoover Institution, military funding, not to mention religious groups that discriminate to co-exist on this campus. If we can’t have ROTC then I see no reason why we are allowed to have those other things, why we can have civilian leaders who are actually responsible for the policy, but can’t have the soldiers who have little control over the policy.

  • @cowards

    “Right, because if there’s something wrong that we have an influence on here, on our campus, that we’re paying $50k a year to attend, we shouldn’t try to change it here, but instead on the federal level? Do you even hear yourself?”

    You are not changing anything about US military policy or discrimination. You are just forcing Stanford students to work harder to participate in the ROTC and thus preventing Stanford graduates from being future military leaders.

  • @really?

    That’s some quality libel you got going there. Cut out that disgusting, fallacious, ad hominem bs. Nothing better than alleging someone’s a bigot one day before an election.

  • @Really?

    What? Are you kidding me? Do you really expect anyone to believe that? It’s one day before the election, and it is very obvious that you are either on another slate or on the campaign team for another slate. Well, Will Seaton should thank you, because you have just made your slate look terrible – probably the best thing you could have done for J-Six.

    The Daily should immediately remove “Really?”‘s comment, it gives an unfair advantage to J-Six.

  • Really?

    I also have screenshots of facebook comments that I can easily send if there is any question of the credibility of my claim.

  • @Really?

    lol libel and blackmail. you should be proud of yourself.

    Daily, please restore some credibility to yourself by making sure there is no complete anonymity on these comments anymore. The comments on “The List” article, on the Kappa Sig losing their house article, and now this article have proven that people can’t handle the responsibility of anonymous posting, especially LSJ’s campaign managers.

  • @really?

    Really? you’re absolutely right we should take you seriously. If you made an anonymous claim with no evidence as a comment to a Stanford Daily article, then this must be serious! Only people with foolproof evidence and legitimate concerns would bring things up in comment forums, totally the best place to do it.

    I can’t wait to see the “screenshots” you photoshopped to slander Will’s name! I hope you post them on this comment thread, too!

  • Sarah

    Some thoughts:

    It is true that there are Catholic groups on this campus, as well as others, that may not seem LGBT-friendly. However, those student groups – like all others, and all Stanford-sponsored programs – cannot expressly discriminate against members of our community. There was a blow up earlier this year in which a non-LGBT friendly group attempted to bar LGBT students from joining and was forced, by the university, to change its policies. So even religious groups on this campus are not allowed to discriminate. Do they? Yes. There are also INDIVIDUALS on this campus who choose to discriminate and participate in prejudiced, hurtful behavior. They, and any student group and any program, can be targeted under the Acts of Intolerance protocol.

    The military bars many people from serving because they have ever once been diagnosed with a disability. Even a long-ago diagnosis with depression can bar a student from serving. This is discriminatory because it is a blanket policy that prevents equal access.

    Again, an injustice somewhere is an injustice everywhere. We all have a responsibility and an obligation to fight injustice where we see it. Keeping ROTC off campus is about fighting potential injustice here; it is part of a larger movement of fighting injustice everywhere. Again, would you say that the lunch-counter sit-ins were “not the right venue” because those people should have been targeting the federal government or the state government? Fighting intolerance and discrimination anywhere is fighting it everywhere. Even if you do not think this is the best arena for fighting discrimination, surely you can’t believe that allowing discrimination here is a step in the right direction.

    It’s not that an “organization with a policy we disagree with” can’t be a part of Stanford. It’s that a blatantly discriminatory organization that violates Stanford’s own policies (its non-discrimination policy) should absolutely not be sponsored by the university. Imagine if the federal government started funding a terrorist organization – clearly, that would be an outrageous violation of the government’s own principles and policies, but it would definitely be sponsoring an “organization with a policy we disagree with.”

    “Sarah, I appreciate your response, but you haven’t answered my question, what is it about Stanford that makes it ok for us to say that we are “too good” to have ROTC but can have the other things on campus that are discriminatory?”

    Firstly, you say this like no one is fighting other sources of discrimination on campus. That is simply not true. Secondly, you say this as though having SOME discrimination on campus is justification for bringing in MORE. That is entirely irrational.

    I said this before, but I will repeat it. The military absolutely must change its discriminatory policies. In fact, all people and organizations need to work to change any discriminatory policies. So why do I think students should continue to attend ROTC programs off campus? Well, of course I would prefer if they didn’t because they are supporting a discriminatory institution, but the military is a necessary body and for many people, the ROTC is a gift that provides education and a chance to serve. But I do believe that I can support students’ choices while demanding that Stanford not violate its own non-discrimination policy to sponsor discrimination on this campus. STUDENTS in ROTC are absolutely not the problem, it’s the institution that is the problem. Stanford should not support that kind of discrimination. So yes, the military must change.

    “we just don’t see how keeping ROTC off campus, and furthering the stigma and separation between the military and ourselves, and making it difficult for the people who serve in the military to be fully integrated into campus life, is going to help transgendered people.”

    By keeping ROTC off campus, we are standing up for our non-discrimination policy. It is that simple. We are protecting transgender and other students by ensuring that they are not treated as second-class students (students who do not have equal access to the programs that Stanford offers). We are also standing up and saying that the non-discrimination policy is a form of protection that we believe in. Bringing ROTC back in its current form would call Stanford’s values into question in an unprecedented way.

    I have not noticed the military being particularly stigmatized on this campus, but if you feel that there is a gulf between you and the military, the Haas Center periodically offers programs about military service. Additionally, you’re welcome to seek out ROTC students or military veterans on campus, as well as classes. If we bring ROTC back, it will not just be “difficult” for transgender and other students to be “integrated into campus life,” it will be impossible – those students will be marked unimportant by the Stanford administration and rendered “less important” than service members. The students will be second-class citizens on this campus. The freshmen I know who are in ROTC do not seem ostracized from campus life in any way, but of course that is anecdotal evidence.

    Like I said, the fact that discrimination already exists is NOT justification for bringing in more. How would that make sense? With that train of logic, we’d be back to a system of slavery in a matter of decades.

    “You are not changing anything about US military policy or discrimination. You are just forcing Stanford students to work harder to participate in the ROTC and thus preventing Stanford graduates from being future military leaders.”

    But what we ARE doing is making Stanford stand up for its own non-discrimination policy. What you are missing here is that this is part of a civil rights movement. This is not the end all be all. Refusing to allow ROTC on campus is only one part of the larger goal here: equal rights, respect, and recognition. The students on campus who participate in ROTC choose to participate, and they choose to participate knowing that they would have to travel off campus. That is a choice. Yes, perhaps that makes their life more difficult. But that does NOT make them discriminated against, as transgender individuals are. That does NOT make them second-class students with limited rights, as transgender and other individuals would be if ROTC returns to campus.

  • student

    Bring ROTC back. I don’t honestly know why there is even a debate.

  • Sam

    I will not donate a penny to Stanford until the ROTC is back. It is ridiculous.

  • @sarah

    “I have not noticed the military being particularly stigmatized on this campus, but if you feel that there is a gulf between you and the military, the Haas Center periodically offers programs about military service. Additionally, you’re welcome to seek out ROTC students or military veterans on campus, as well as classes.”

    Seriously? You think the massive disconnect between civilians and the military at Stanford will be lessened by a workshop at Haas? Everything you mentioned is just a crappy substitute to actually having ROTC back on campus. The lack of understanding of the military among Stanford students is pathetic and it perpetuates the idea that the university is “too good” for the military. As it stands now, 6 undergrad students out of roughly 6,400 are in ROTC. To me, that number really says something about how aloof the university and its students are to the military. Enough of this transgender bs. A lot of people on this campus are simply anti-military and will always find a reason to oppose it.

  • @sarah

    Addendum to my earlier comments: 6 undergrads are in Army ROTC. 14 across all branches.

  • @@sarah

    14 undergrads to me suggests not that there’s a disconnect, but there’s just a general lack of interest. Students in general have better things to do with their time, and low rates of ROTC participation are common at all of the most selective schools. It’s because the students are too smart for it.

    “The lack of understanding of the military among Stanford students is pathetic”

    The lack of understanding of trans people and their rights among Stanford students is pathetic.

    “I will not donate a penny to Stanford until the ROTC is back. It is ridiculous.”

    Well, Stanford will just add you to the list of people who refuse to donate to their alma mater (one which gave you so much) for petty reasons. What are you gonna do when they call, say you’re not donating because ROTC isn’t back? Do you think that the undergraduates calling alumni actually report dumb reasons like that?

    What’s even more annoying is that you imply your lack of donation is actually going to mean something to Stanford. It isn’t. Without even trying Stanford could raise all the money you’ll ever be able to give in donations. Easily.

  • @sarah

    I would absolutely love to see a draft instituted in this country if for no other reason than to see sheltered elitists like Sarah be forced to join the military. I think it would do a lot to build character.

  • Wow

    “It’s because the students are too smart for it.”

    That’s why we need ROTC on this campus, and why so many people have been turned off of this debate.

  • @sarah

    I am so tired of people who compare everything to racisim. And then imply everyone who disagrees with you to be a racist. It is a cheap trick and is BS.

  • oops

    typo: I meant racism not racisim.

  • Pensive

    I wonder if the ASSU will pass any resolutions against the other organizations on campus that discriminate against the “transgendered people”? (I’m looking at you all NCAA athletics and the entirety of the Greek system.)

  • Sarah

    Actually, the NCAA (http://www.ncaa.org/wps/portal/ncaahome?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/ncaa/NCAA/NCAA+News/NCAA+News+Online/2010/Association-wide/Report+offers+guidance+for+transgender+student-athletes) has a very fair policy toward transgender students (no need for quotation marks). And the Greek system has a lot of issues (I don’t personal support the Greek system and would like to see it discontinued), but Cris Batista, a columnist for the Daily, wrote that Kappa Sig was actually fairly welcoming.

    “Enough of this transgender bs.”

    Your transphobia is actually just disgusting. Do you realize that students who identify as transgender are PEOPLE who deserve rights, respect, and recognition like everyone else?

  • Sarah

    Actually, the NCAA (I sent in a link but that could get held up in moderation for ages) has a very fair policy toward transgender students (no need for quotation marks). And the Greek system has a lot of issues (I don’t personal support the Greek system and would like to see it discontinued), but Cris Batista, a columnist for the Daily, wrote that Kappa Sig was actually fairly welcoming. Also, it’s important to distinguish between individual discrimination – which we are always fighting – and institutionalized discrimination. Both are horrible, but the Greek system is unfortunately based on individual discrimination – and is as guilty as anyone else who is homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, etc. The ROTC is a body with institutionalized discrimination; it’s written into the rule books.

    “Enough of this transgender bs.”

    Your transphobia is actually just disgusting. Do you realize that students who identify as transgender are PEOPLE who deserve rights, respect, and recognition like everyone else?

  • @Sarah

    I will look out for your link on the transgender policy, but from what I’ve read, teams with transgender students are rated as second class teams, not eligible to participate in championship games. Further than that, an example of one Greek house does not mean that it isn’t institutionalized as well.

    The general anti-militarism that creeps up on this campus is particularly offensive to anyone remotely related to the military, insofar as I’ve met to date. I also have yet to see a single individual that supports ROTC but does not want it back because of it’s policies. Even if those issues are fixed, the galvanized hatred will continue to exist. People get away with anti-military acts and words that would not fly if they were directed at other minority groups.