Accepting ROTC would condone discrimination

To the editors:

Alex Turnbull makes an important point in “Recognize ROTC, Recognize War” (Opinion, Oct. 4) that America’s intellectual elite should “be allowed to grasp what exactly is involved” in war. However, his conclusion that Harvard should allow ROTC to recruit on campus, despite its explicitly discriminatory “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, displays callous disregard for the civil liberties of American bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer (BGLTQ) individuals.

What message are we sending the intellectual elite if by providing ROTC we condone the sacrifice of our classmates’ civil rights? Perhaps in Turnbull’s world BGLTQ students don’t exist; perhaps they don’t count as part of the intellectual elite; or perhaps, since they only make up about 10 percent of the student body, their concerns and rights are of only secondary importance.

Harvard must recognize that it can no longer claim to be protecting its BGLTQ students against discrimination if its non-discrimination code can be overridden in order to give others a particular experience or benefit. If it is to allow the non-discrimination code take a backseat to expediency, the University ought simply to drop the code altogether. Such a code is merely a slap in the faces of those it claims to protect if the protection it guarantees is contingent. If Harvard has a non-discrimination code that it does not follow, it is modelling intelectual dishonesty—not exactly a value Turnbull would wish for the “intellectual elite.”



October 10

M Barusch and Jordan Woods are Co-Chairs of the BiSexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance.