Unfriendly Fire
How the gay ban undermines the military and weakens America

Laying Blame Where Blame is Due

R.O.T.C. Post II

Earlier this week I wrote about apologists for anti-gay military discrimination. These are folks who lay the blame for the feud between elite universities and the military at the feet of academia, who they say are out of touch with real America in protesting the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy by banning military recruiters from campus.

I’ve argued that these apologists are off-base because they prioritize discrimination over fairness, and also because they present a false choice between fairness and effectiveness: it turns out that discrimination is bad for the military, so the smart approach to this “problem” is to realize it’s not a problem: end discrimination in the military, invite the military back onto campus, and everyone is happy (ok, maybe not pacifists).

But this week I learned a startling fact: the universities were not the ones to bar R.O.T.C. from campus; the military was. According to Diane H. Mazur, Professor of Law at

University of Florida Levin College of Law, “Everyone assumes that Ivy League universities do not have R.O.T.C. because they banned R.O.T.C. The real reason they do not have ROTC is because the military has little interest in having detachments there. The military has been steadily withdrawing R.O.T.C. from northeastern campuses since the end of the Vietnam War.” She adds that “The military has shown no interest in opening detachments at [elite] universities. There has never been a situation in which the military wanted an R.O.T.C. detachment and the university refused.”

Starting in the 1970s, the military decided to leave elite campuses. Enrollment in R.O.T.C. was down, and the military decided to focus its recruitment efforts particularly on southern universities that were lobbying hard for a presence.

“One of the biggest military myths is that elite universities have banned R.O.T.C.,” says Mazur. “Didn’t happen.” Once again, let’s lay blame where blame is due.

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