Nevertheless, the University’s original goal of bolstering civil-military engagement can and should push forward through other means for the time being. Greater participation in ROTC, if it is to come, will have to follow other measures.
Much has been said about the current advisory measure to gauge student support for ROTC’s return to the Stanford campus. In true Stanford fashion, many novel and thoughtful arguments in favor of supporting, abstaining, or rejecting ROTC have emerged on email lists and fliers. However, this Board wishes to address some widely believed misperceptions, and urges a “yes” vote on Measure A.
Much has been made of the so-called civilian-military divide (henceforth CMD), including in a recent letter that Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz wrote to the ROTC committee. Such a discussion begs three questions: (1) what is this divide? (2) is it a problem? (3) if so, what is the remedy?
The six female ROTC cadets and midshipmen at Stanford are baffled by news that the Women’s Coalition (WoCo), a body that claims to represent a wide swath of women’s student organizations, is actively opposing the return of ROTC to campus. Like the WoCo, our small female cadet contingent at Stanford is made up of strong women who actively and passionately support female advancement, rights and opportunities, especially in the male-dominated institution in which we’ve chosen to serve. We know from history and experience that Stanford women thrive in the military, and we earnestly hope for ROTC’s return to campus so that more women will have the opportunity to benefit from this program.
ROTC’s absence from this campus has removed a critical mode of discourse between the military and the civilian population it serves. As the daughter of an Air Force officer, I grew up entirely behind the gates of U.S. military installations. The schools I attended were filled almost exclusively with fellow military dependents. College marked my first experience living off base and being surrounded primarily by civilians. I was struck that while I understood the nuances of civilian life, my civilian counterparts had virtually no notion of what life in the military entails. Worse, they seemed almost proud of their ignorance.
At Tuesday night’s Undergraduate Senate meeting, Senator Ben Jensen ‘12 deemed it appropriate to make an analogy between the upcoming ROTC ballot measure and a hypothetical vote on allowing the Klu Klux Klan onto campus. Coupled with the recently launched “Campaign to Abstain,” urging voters to abstain on the grounds of civil rights on said ballot measure, I have had enough.
Keith Sudheimer’s recent Op-Ed regarding the potential return of ROTC to the Stanford campus (“Darth Vader Says ‘Yes’ To the ROTC”) illustrates an ideologically extreme and unproductive understanding of military service. Sudheimer argues that since soldiers in the field are obliged to follow orders regardless of their moral positions, military service is antithetical to the intellectual goals of the university. In so doing he misunderstands the nature of the ROTC program and disregards the structure of government through which military decisions are made.
But now, as the debate over the status of gay service members heats up again, polls for the first time suggest public support for a more open policy. And on Tuesday, a new Pentagon study reported the risk to the military’s effectiveness by repealing the policy is low.