Calling for students to fight against discrimination against gays, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor David Halperin told audience members that changes are necessary in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Currently, ROTC has come under fire at universities nationwide for barring and discharging gays from service. ROTC's policy is the same as a Pentagon policy which states that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service." Brought to the University by the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Alliance, Halperin gave an hour-long speech before approximately 40 students and faculty in the Ben Franklin Room of Houston Hall Tuesday. Halperin, the founder of an MIT group that fights discrimination, attacked the Pentagon policy that prohibits gays, saying that there is no evidence that being gay hinders military ability. "Every single investigation into this policy has shown that the policy is baseless," he noted. "There are no grounds for showing that lesbian and gay soldiers can't serve in the military." Comparing the discrimination policies of ROTC programs to apartheid in South Africa, he said that "No one is really enthusiastic about discrimination except the upper levels of the Pentagon. Everyone knows it is wrong." He stressed that he was not opposed to the structure of ROTC, but rather to its discriminatory policies. He added that students must realize the distinction and separate the two issues. "The presence of ROTC raises legitimate concerns," Halperin added. "It is the only national law that discriminates against an entire segment of the American population." The history of the fight against ROTC discrimination began at the University of Wisconsin and quickly spread throughout the country. Halperin has been instrumental in a recent anti-discrimination victory at MIT where the administration recently announced that unless sexual discrimination was ended, ROTC programs on campus would be forced to stop. Past Faculty Senate Chair Robert Davies said afterwards that at the University, a study is currently underway by the Faculty Senate Conduct Committee to determine what action should be taken against University ROTC programs. The University Council has called for ROTC to be kicked off campus in June 1993 unless it "adheres to the spirit and the letter" of University policies. Many students said at the speech there needs to be a change in current ROTC policies, but differed on the ways to alter them. "When there is injustice you mobilize in every way you can," said College junior Sloan Wiesen. "The case is so flagrant that the University has to take a stand. We can't wait for the President [Bush] to act, we must push for action." Some attending the discusssion were less interested in student activism. "The policy should be changed, but a legislative option is better." said Wharton junior Marc Austin.Comments powered by Disqus
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