By Dana Edwards
A group of campus conservatives started a petition in support of ROTC’s return to Stanford. This petition has gathered 812 signatures at the time of publication.
The petition is the latest development in the ongoing campus debate over the potential reintroduction of the ROTC program to the Farm. It serves as a response to a similar initiative launched several weeks ago by Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL), which oppose the return of ROTC on the grounds that it would violate Stanford’s non-discrimination clause.
When SSQL’s petition launched, several students who support ROTC’s return began talking about issuing a counter-petition. Thomas Schultz ‘11, one of the leaders of the Stanford Conservative Society (SCS), spearheaded the effort by creating the pro-ROTC petition on Feb. 22.
By the end of the day, Schultz’s petition had gathered several hundred signatures, surpassing SSQL’s total of 172 to date. It is hosted by PetitionOnline.com, the same website that hosted SSQL’s petition. Unlike SSQL’s, however, Schultz’s petition does not make signatures viewable, only displaying the latest cumulative total.
“When creating the petition, the PetitionOnline site seemed to indicate that if names were displayed, then e-mail address and phone number would also be displayed,” Schultz wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. “Therefore, we did not want that information to be made public. It states before you sign your name that you must be affiliated with Stanford University, and our promotions have only been to Stanford University students, faculty or staff.”
Schultz publicized the petition by forwarding it widely to numerous e-mail lists across campus, but emphasized that it is not officially endorsed by SCS or any other organization.
Like SSQL’s petition, Schultz’s petition is prefaced with a short letter addressed to Stanford’s Faculty Senate, the body that commissioned the exploration of ROTC’s potential return. Last spring, the Senate created an ad hoc committee to investigate the issue, taking into account popular opinion. Student efforts have been largely directed at swaying this committee, which is set to announce its recommendation in May.
The letter articulates the stance that both Stanford and the military suffer from ROTC’s absence on campus.
“Our nation’s military deserves the best officers we can give it,” Schultz wrote in the letter. “Therefore, elite colleges such as Stanford should drop their historical severance in order to enable students to serve this vital public interest.”
Kyle Huwa ‘13, another member of SCS and a signer of the petition, said it was important for the ad hoc committee to see how many students support ROTC’s reintroduction.
“There’s been a lot of pushback against ROTC,” Huwa said. “We want to show the committee that there are a lot of students supporting [ROTC’s return], especially since the decision is drawing nearer.”
In response to the argument articulated by SSQL—that a campus ROTC presence would exclude transgender people who are barred from service—Huwa said a boycott could not effectively change the military’s policies because “the military is not subject to market conditions.”
“It can’t hurt to have talented Stanford students in the military working on the policy internally,” Huwa said.
The success of the petition has buoyed the optimism of advocates for ROTC’s return.
“I am very hopeful that the Faculty Senate will vote to reintroduce ROTC to campus,” Schultz said.