Widgets Magazine


Op-Ed: Cowardice, Co-optation, and ROTC

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.

Let’s begin with the fact that I watched with joy on C-SPAN as DADT was voted off the legislative rolls this past fall. I was one of the drivers who fliered Bay Area universities and then sat in the Circle of Death to protest the passage of Proposition 8. And I am no doubt one of numerous individuals who supports open service for transgender people. I also, however, support ROTC’s return to Stanford University.

The United States military being likened to the Klan means it is high time we begin setting the record straight. This controversy, which includes the ballot measure, the Constitutional Council case, the Senate prattling and now the ‘Campaign to Abstain” — this has nothing to do with ROTC. What we have witnessed this year is the co-optation and exploitation of Stanford’s political and governmental processes by…two dozen, at most, students looking for a very public political power grab at the expense of ROTC, reasonable discourse and the greater student body. The leadership of SSQL, sympathizers in the “Women’s” Coalition, Stanford Democrats and SOCC has missed an opportunity to foster a productive dialogue on the matter, choosing instead to wage an emotionally charged battle based off of specious claims.

Earlier this year, SSQL decided it wanted Stanford to talk about “privilege.” I say let’s do it. Let’s talk about Stanford privilege, of our god-given right to accuse the United States military of any known societal ill, free of actual implications. Let’s talk about our acute disconnect to the realities of the world at large. Please, take a minute and think how Sanford is one of the only places where such a debate could even possibly occur. Given that ROTC cadets are forbidden to discuss any of these issues, the fringe has been allowed to dominate the tenor and content of this debate.

To haphazardly denigrate the military (given that SSQL is openly, and unabashedly anti-military regardless its stance on LGBTQ issues) is not only ignorant, but also damaging to the long-term intellectual vibrancy of Stanford and the nation we hopefully choose to better. Stanford’s educational mission would be failed if the Farm were to churn out America’s “next great leaders” who lack any knowledge or understanding of the armed forces.

Lastly, it is important to reflect on the cowardice of the “Campaign to Abstain.” The saber-rattling hard liners failed with the Constitutional Council Case, failed to overturn the ballot question in the Senate and will undoubtedly fail next week once ballots are cast. Instead of campaigning openly against ROTC (because once again, this is not about ROTC), the “Campaign to Abstain” has been launched. I challenge those supporting the campaign, particularly those looking for sheer political advantage — if you believe this is an issue of civil rights, vote no. Stand up, and vote no on ROTC. Vote no based on your beliefs, just as I will cast a yes vote because of mine. If you cannot do that, then I say it’s time to stop disseminating distortions, and let the student body finally have a chance to be heard.


Zachary Warma ‘11

  • Adam

    so excited for the comments on this one!

  • Chris

    I happen to agree with this Op-Ed. ROTC has nothing to do with the “Campaign to Abstain”. It’s just another importation of the general US political environment being used to make a campus political power grab.

  • Really?

    I think it’s completely okay that you’re annoyed with the way some of the matters have been handled and with the comparison to the Ku Klux Klan, which I also think was a poor analogy. Not because it disrespects the military — honestly I hate the whole “don’t you dare insult the military!!!11” argument — but because there are too many incongruences between the two situations.

    But I have to say, your description of your pro-LGBT stances sounds like a BS way to show that you support the LGBT community. If you do, then why do you support a program that discriminates against individuals of that community? (I assume you didn’t address this in the article because it’s not very relevant, but I’m genuinely interested to know why.) It doesn’t matter whether you think ROTC is right, or the military, or wars, or whatever. If you campaigned that hard against prop 8, I’m inclined to think that you strongly felt the cause. But your support of ROTC anyway suggests that your heart was never in it.

    If ROTC didn’t discriminate, I wouldn’t be pointing this out–you’re free to support or oppose ROTC. But I just want you to realize something which you apparently haven’t: describing your extensive support of LGBT causes as a way of showing your “badges” of credibility is really disingenuous. Combine that with your statement of support for ROTC, and any discerning reader can hear the screaming hypocrisy of this article.

    “if you believe this is an issue of civil rights”

    You make it sound like it’s a matter of belief or opinion–it isn’t. It discriminates. Against a protected group on campus. Period. End of story.

    Now, whether you think that ROTC should come back *despite* that downside, that’s belief and opinion. But its status as a civil rights issue is not disputable, no matter how much some pigheaded ROTC supporters like to say otherwise. Shit, even some administrators have acknowledged that ROTC is a very sticky issue because it’s still, despite the repeal of DADT, tangled with civil rights issues.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not an LGBT student, and I’m 100% for ROTC returning–as soon as they stop discriminating against transgendered students. It’s a great program, students are interested in it, it’s another option for campus involvement, etc. but I will not support it if it’s going to discriminate against any single group of students, no matter how small or large. Whether exclusion actually happens or not is irrelevant; it’s the principle.

    To be honest, like you, I’ve had enough. The way that many students on campus have gone about dialog on this issue is really, really saddening. By “way,” I mean the extreme cowardice of so many students who support LGBT rights and causes but consider them trivial when actually confronted with a situation of such rights. In 2008 during the no-on-prop 8 campaigns, I truly could not have been happier with Stanford and how progressive the students were, and how much they supported LGBT causes (I’m from a very small conservative town). But then I see how much of them, mainly the ones who don’t actually care about ROTC’s return, just kind of shrug and say “meh, does it really matter that they discriminate against transgendered students? Do any of them actually want to join ROTC?” They do not seem to adhere to the idea of principle: that no matter what the realities are, the existence of a discriminatory policy is wrong. Had they belonged to the group that was being discriminated against, I’m certain they would be positively outraged with indignation. But since they have no dogs in this fight (and how many of us can actually say we have a close trans friend?), they’re okay with a little injustice, so long as the pragmatic consequences aren’t great. That, to me, is the pinnacle of cowardice.

    Oh, and also I agree 100% with your thoughts on the Campaign to Abstain. It’s pretty counterintuitive.

  • law student

    For more information on transgender in the military issues, see http://advocatesforrotc.org/issues//transgender/index.html

  • @Really?

    The anti-war groups on campus discriminate against the ROTC students by hampering their educational goals. The military is a protected class of individuals right up there with age, sex, and disability. Why make their lives harder than they already are?

    As for abstaining–please, everyone abstain as much as possible. But only if you were going to vote no. That way there will be proportionally more yes votes. Remember-most people abstain because of ignorance or apathy, so abstaining on this issue does not indicate a protest-there is no box to check for protest.

  • Jim


    To begin, I would recommend against resorting to name calling like “pigheaded ROTC supporters” because that automatically places you in the category of people who go about this dialog in a saddening way.

    I’d be interested to know why this is simply about transgender students for you? Let’s assume the medical regulations were altered and they were allowed to serve. There would still be a large portion of the Stanford population who would be unable to serve due to medical regulations. International students wouldn’t be able to commission unless they were able to gain citizenship and renounced their former citizenship. Why are these situations different than the one a transgender student faces?

    On your argument that this is a civil rights issue, where exactly is the right to serve in uniform guaranteed as a civil right to everyone? Based on the fact you don’t mention the restrictions of service on a host of medical conditions, I believe it is ok to assume that you’d agree that some level of medical standards for service are justified. You just currently disagree then with the medical regulations regarding transgender individuals – which is perfectly a legitimate stance. However, yourself, nor any other person in the transgender rights camp, has brought in any medical professionals or medical opinion on the issue. You continue to want to frame it as a plain and simple civil rights infringement, which many, including myself, don’t see the issue in the same way (rather than an issue where modern medical thought and practices are potentially slow to integrate). This leaves us comparing apples and oranges and unlikely to come to any kind of good discussion.

  • Dominique

    SSQL is an embarressment on the Stanford community. It’s ashame they are taking up so much of our time and attention. Let Stanford have its own ROTC chapter and tell SSQL to stop discriminating against their right to have a Stanford chapter.

  • @Jim

    You misread what I said. I consciously chose the word “some” in front of “pigheaded ROTC supporters,” to indicate that only a subset of ROTC supporters are pigheaded (you can probably say the same of subset of the ROTC opponents). Jumped the gun a bit there 😉

    Here’s what I have to say about the medical issue: for one, the APA has said that being gay was a disorder in the past, which it changed. But let’s just say that they’re right and trans people are mentally unfit for service. Trans people supposedly have a higher rate of emotional and psychological instability (the reasons for which have nothing to do with the state of being trans, but rather the pressure/shame that society imposes on these individuals–but this is irrelevant for our discussion) though a large portion are perfectly stable. Why deny them service? Why put a blanket policy on everyone in that group? It would make more sense to screen each one individually and have a professional decide whether they are fit for service. But if we’re going to single out this supposedly high-risk group, we should single out other high-risk groups, ones that are known for mental instability. Only makes sense, right? How about writers and poets, who supposedly are 4x more likely to commit suicide? Or people who have a history of sexual abuse? They have higher rates of mental instability. Let’s screen them too. But all of this screams preferential treatment, so it would only make sense to screen every person who enlists to see whether they are psychologically and emotionally fit for service. This would be a real positive step, I think, because there are plenty of unstable individuals that enlist in the military–Abu Ghraib, anyone? I don’t actually think that we’d be able to “weed out” the bad individuals; if anything, we’d let some sick people in, and unintentionally bar stable individuals from service (ones who would never commit any atrocity, ever). The amount of psychological “probing” that would be necessary to determine this with accuracy is just not feasible, especially given how large our military is. Thus, both the military and the public accept that military enlistment is an imperfect process: you’re going to get some bad apples no matter what.

    Bringing this back into context, there are tons of statistically high-risk groups that the military does NOT discriminate against. Thus, it seems pretty obvious that the military is discriminating against them out of something other than a “concern for the health and well-being of their troops.” Mind you, all this is based on the assumption that the APA is *correct* in its judgment of trans individuals (though it likely isn’t). Thus, as you can probably tell by now, I do support medical standards for service, but more specifically, medical standards that are applied uniformly and fairly. The reasoning behind some of these standards (this whole psychologically/emotionally fit standard) is not applied uniformly. Rather, the military is using that as an excuse to discriminate, and no, I won’t support that BS.

    Now why would I have such an assumption of ill-will on the part of the military? Because of DADT. Yes, Congress enacted this policy, but it was heavily supported in the military, especially officials. There has been institutionalized homophobia in the military and the last bastion of it is this policy of discrimination against trans individuals.

    As for international students: you’re deliberately drawing attention away from my points when you know that the situation of international students is fundamentally different. They cannot and will likely never be able to serve; it would require some extreme form of international cooperation to change policies like those, something that will likely never happen (it’s an issue of eligibility, which you seem to think is the same for trans individuals, rather than accept the rather obvious reality that it’s discrimination disguised as an eligibility requirement–remnant homophobia). There are battles to fight. This is one of them, because we can stop ROTC from bringing that discrimination to *our* campus. As far as I am aware, there are no other groups for whom medical standards unfairly prohibit them from enlisting.

    On that note, as a related topic, can you think of any organization on campus that specifically bars a set of individuals from joining? I’m genuinely curious about this because someone brought this up before, but I can’t think of any. There are some graduate-only or undergraduate-only groups, but that’s different. Even the different organizations and centers for underrepresented groups welcome those not in the groups: the women’s center love for men to get involved, black pre-med has non-black students in it, etc.

  • Dolo

    Public institutions have no place at private schools like Stanford. It’s okay to afford them non-specific space on campus for their classes, but there should be no official endorsement of or agreement with ROTC. To those who think that Stanford has an obligation because it receives federal funding: please educate yourself on the difference between public and private institutions, the general scheme of research funding in the US, and the declining support from the Department of Defense to universities.

  • Jim


    To begin, because the APA changed course on gay in the past doesn’t mean we can assume it will related to transgender. It may very well – I’ll leave that in the hands of the medical professionals – but the best I can tell there is still a lot of disagreement amongst medical professionals.

    I think it is also important to understand how medical disqualification works in the military. I myself was originally medically disqualified for eyesight, history of ACL reconstruction, lower back condition, and because of a fever induced seizure I had when I was 14 months old. However, once disqualified, people have the opportunity to apply for waivers, which I did, and often times it works out if you can demonstrate that the conditions will not impact your ability to serve. A transgender person would have that same opportunity to appeal. To the best of my knowledge, no one has built a strong case and pursued a waiver related to being transgender or being diagnosed with gender identity disorder.

    On the question of is it applied universally, any history of mental health issues would likely result in medical disqualification and would be subject to close screening through any waiver request process.

    On the international students issue, it isn’t a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from other points, it is an important additional discussion to have because it helps distinguish between whether you have an issue with any group on campus that excludes even one person from being able to join or if this is a much more targeted issue for you. Are there groups on campus? Certainly … every single sports team out there. I’d love to go join the women’s basketball team (because playing in the Final Four would be awesome), but I don’t think I would be allowed. I can be a fan, I can play alternatives like men’s basketball, intramural, or pick-up, I probably could even become a trainer or ball boy or something for the team — but I won’t be able to join the team (#1 because I am a guy, #2 because I am not good enough at basketball).

    I can appreciate that you think the current medical standards are BS, but you haven’t built a rational case against it based on professional medical opinion or references — which is where I feel time would be best spent by those who feel the current standards are not inline with current medical opinion.

    I am sorry, but it’s not “the rather obvious reality that it’s discrimination disguised as an eligibility requirement – remnant homophobia.” That is your opinion, not a fact.

    I think it’s also important to ask yourself what your goal is — is it to change the current medical policies or is it to just prevent ROTC from coming to campus because you view it as a discriminatory organization? I get the feeling that this has become increasingly about keeping ROTC off campus for people instead of about actually influencing policy. I could be wrong in the goals/motivations, but that’s the feeling I get. And I think that is the wrong focus and strategy for a group to take if they truly care about changing policy. Engagement, particularly professional/empathetic dialog, will bring far better results than will emotional appeals and exclusion.

  • Uninformed

    So, I think some very interesting points have come up and I am most interested in the Campaign to Abstain and would rather just address that part. As Warma points out, he thinks its a small group of a dozen SSQL people that are trying a political manuever. Clearly he missed the first meeting, over finals week, when I showed up mostly out of curiousity, and saw nearly forty people, each person equally invested in the idea for a different reason. I remember 4 specifically SSQL people there, but I have not been actively going to the ABSTAIN meetings (don’t know even know if they are having them now) since, so unclear where it is at now. There were also more than 4 pro-ROTC people at the table, which is in DIRECT contrast to what Warma tries to portray. So I hope next time Warma writes any type of article, he will not be SOOO completely uninformed.

    As someone who has not made up his mind on ROTC and whether it should return on campus ( I can see benefits to both sides), I do VERY much understand the abstain measure. The faculty senate should be listening to student input, and that input should not reduce each voice to one small vote. By abstaining, I personally believe it is about making sure that each person has an equally POWERFUL voice with those making the decision. That means every person on campus that feels strongly or has an opinion should be able to go in with equal leverage to portray their story and reason. The minority voice should be able to sit on equal ground as the majority opinion, whether its those discriminated against in the ROTC, or those discriminated against in the transgender community. Ultimately, if you do feel strongly, as people on this thread do, I would think abstain makes most sense. That way, you can go to the faculty senate and have a big voice as opposed to one vote where minorities who are MOST effected by the decision have disproportionate impact.

    Discriminating on either side of the issue is not fair to those communities that are affected and so I am abstaining because I want to see those specific individuals not be reduced to a singular vote when proportionally, they are BY FAR the most effected subset of the population. A friend of mine explained it to me like this: if people from your city were being discriminated against here at Stanford, would you want to be trivialized to a singular vote? Probably not, because you are the most effected and yet your voice is being clumped into an aggregate where the majority is likely to outweigh the concerns of a legitimate minority.

    I read an email from John Haskell, who is a cabinet member of Angelina and Kelsei, and his closing quote rings well with me. “Discrimination anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Abstaining is NOT a stance on ROTC, and if you do have a strong stance, I hope you will abstain and use your voice more effectively with a body that can actually have an impact on the process.

  • Student

    The key point is that SSQL is anti-military. They’ve admitted it themselves. It’s abhorrent.

  • more political shenanigans

    Campaign to Abstain is a naked attempt to co-opt the general apathy of Stanford students to promote the anti-ROTC agenda. SSQL saw that no one signed their petition, and expect the same amount of strong opinion against when we vote. They just hope that the number of students actually against ROTC + the number of students who have legitimately tried to stay out of the issue is greater than the number of students specifically in favor.

    It’s all a ploy to be able to say “well 80% of the people who voted were for ROTC, but if you consider the whole population, only 30% of people actually voted FOR ROTC. Obviously, most students abstained because of our Campaign to Abstain. We win, even though we lost.” They will spin the usual mediocre to low turnout numbers as support for their side in what I presume will be an op-ed in the paper as well as a letter to the Faculty Senate.

    You heard it here first.

  • Linus

    @more political shenanigans: We’re not campaigning for people to abstain /from voting/, we’re campaigning for people to cast a vote of “abstain”, which is an option on the ballot. We’re not coopting the voices of people who don’t participate.

  • @linus

    That’s not what he said, read it again. If you want to protest anything protest the monopoly that a few student groups have on the elections here and consequently millions in student fees. Do the math and grow up.

  • @Student

    Adopting a critical stance towards the activities of the US military is not abhorrent, this is: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-kill-team-20110327

  • Wow


    ‘I am sorry, but it’s not “the rather obvious reality that it’s discrimination disguised as an eligibility requirement – remnant homophobia.” That is your opinion, not a fact.’

    Keep burying your head under the sand, dude… it seems to be working pretty well.

    “is it to just prevent ROTC from coming to campus because you view it as a discriminatory organization?”

    I don’t know about the poster you’re asking, but those who oppose ROTC’s return on the grounds of its discriminatory policies in general want to stop the injustice where their sphere of influence exists. Which is this campus that we’re paying 52k a year to attend. That doesn’t mean that every damned person who has something to say about this needs to get a degree in public policy to try to change the discriminatory policies. I’m getting sick of people pointing that out. Can we not simply oppose its return, by the mere fact of its discriminatory nature, regardless of whether it’s justified (medical reason my ass) or who actually enacts the policy? You’re damn right we can.


    “The key point is that SSQL is anti-military. They’ve admitted it themselves. It’s abhorrent.”

    No, they have never said that. One individual spoke his own opinion, but most are actually just indignant that while most of the queer community is celebrating over the repeal of DADT, transgendered students are still being discriminated against.

  • Wow

    Jim, sorry in the last paragraph I was referring to your statement “I get the feeling that this has become increasingly about keeping ROTC off campus for people instead of about actually influencing policy.” I’ll add that that feeling is largely correct, but not the “for people” bit. Nobody wants to keep it off just to be nasty and cause others more trouble. Some people are actually trying to influence policy, but most of us do have other endeavors and can’t follow the “professional” path as you say, nor do we want the “empathetic” path (is that your clever way of saying “let ROTC back anyway, they’ll change their mind about transgendered students eventually!”?). Like I said, we still think that it’s something that’s bad and Stanford should not be endorsing it until it fixes what’s wrong. And just because we’re not all about to launch a career in lobbying and policy does -not- mean that our voices and opinions are any less significant or credible.

    I think I remember you posting similar comments in other ROTC Daily articles, if you’re the same Jim. To be honest, arguments like that are getting really tiresome, because it’s painfully clear why that point is irrelevant.

  • @Wow

    The painfully clear irrelevant point here is that the rhetoric of civil rights makes no sense. If it’s a civil rights matter, go to the supreme court–they love that stuff. Sue somebody. Really though, you want to restrict the ability of one set of students to learn effectively, to the seeming “benefit” of the other group. How do the trans-individuals benefit by the absence of ROTC? How will they be hurt by its presence? Hostility certainly stems from their quarter, but it does not appear to go the opposite way; the anti-ROTC movement is much less open to coexisting than ROTC is.

    Stop the rhetoric for a moment, and honestly say; how are trans individuals harmed in any way by the program’s existence on campus? And don’t say it’s because of their inability to participate–they can’t participate off campus either. What makes off-campus ROTC okay and on-campus ROTC not? Where is the damage done?

  • @Jim

    You said: “I can appreciate that you think the current medical standards are BS.” You need to re-read my post. I said I agreed with military medical standards as a basis for exclusion of some individuals unfit for service, but I do not agree with it when it’s used as an excuse to institutionalize homophobic discrimination. And I’m quite confident that that’s what’s going on here, because it’s strongly evidenced by the existence of DADT. By the way, you were the one who first implied that the medical standards (those specifically relating to transgendered people) are justified so long as your opposition doesn’t bring in any “medical professionals or medical opinion.” But the burden of evidence is on you: neither you nor the APA has provided any strong scientific argument or empirical support that says that being transgendered makes you psychologically or emotionally unstable and thus unfit for service. More significantly, nor has the military provided any sound logical basis for how the supposed findings and classifications of the APA actually translate to differences in ability to serve, specifically as they relate to gender identity.

    Do you know why you won’t be able to find any strong scientific evidence? Because it doesn’t exist. Sure, a few studies have been done, but there’s far more (credible and sound) critical analysis that shows why none of those makes sense. (Like you said, there’s a lot of disagreement among professionals, but more are in the critical camp.)

    And you didn’t address my question about applying the policies universally. You say “any history of mental health issues would likely result in medical disqualification and would be subject to close screening through any waiver request process,” but I’m pretty certain that those magical waivers you speak of here will not help any transgendered individual. Do you have any citation supporting that such waivers do alter the trans policy on a case-by-case basis, and that there is a non-trivial # of cases where such waivers are granted? You mention a “history” of it, but what if the person does not have a history of it? They are not barred from enlisting. But a trans person will be denied whether they have a mental illness or not. Again, why would I have such a negative assumption about the military? Because of DADT! They dismissed thousands upon thousands of gay individuals. Do you honestly believe that if a trans person said, “Look, my mental health is perfectly fine, I’ve never been mentally unfit, I will submit to an evaluation, I would really like to be granted this waiver,” they would actually grant it? No–it would likely end more or less as: “The policy is this, and even though the reason for this policy might not apply to you, it’s still the policy, sorry.” (I want to believe that the waivers exist, that the military truly does believe that trans individuals are at a risk for being unfit to serve, and that they truly do want to enlist those trans people who are mentally sound. But I’m not naive or gullible, and will believe when I see it. Of course, if you can provide data proving otherwise, I’ll gladly retract this.)

    As it stands, this issue is not about a “history” of mental health issues, rather, the assumption of mental health issues based on an outdated judgment by the APA (whose classifications and judgments change with the wind–no joke), and they apply this blanket policy over all trans people, assuming mental instability in all of them. So I’ll ask again: why not the same policy for other statistically high-risk groups? Why do we assume they’re stable, unless we see otherwise (in their history), but with trans people, we do the opposite by assuming they’re unstable and defaulting to an exception (though the waiver will likely never go through)?

    You again did not say why it is that we should be considering international students here. Do you not recognize that that is a hugely large issue? International students can’t get work-study jobs on campus. It’s never going to change. It’s how the world works, but it’s not out of any assumption of inherent inferiority or bias against them, unlike queer individuals in the military (gays in addition to trans people). If you don’t think that there has been or is currently any of that queer bias in the military (and in turn that it’s fundamentally different from international students), then I don’t know what else to say to you, because I don’t think you’ll ever agree.

    Finally, your example of a discriminatory organization on campus is disappointing. So you’re saying that if tomorrow the Daily printed an article about how discriminatory the women’s basketball team is, it would be taken seriously (by even one single person)? Come on, you seem like an intelligent person, so I’m going to assume that you don’t think that it’s “discriminatory” in the sense I asked you about and are playing the devil’s advocate here to try to prove your point. (That aside, there is no “trans ROTC” counterpart to the ROTC, unlike men’s basketball. Not that it would matter if it did, because again, this is about principle.)

    You say “You continue to want to frame it as a plain and simple civil rights infringement” — but you continue to want to frame it as a plain and simple eligibility technicality. See what I did there?

    Finally, agreed with Wow that all this mention of the need to go into public policy and lobbying Congress just to have a credible voice in the issue on our campus is BS. I’m getting sick of it too, but none of you seem to realize that if it’s anyone’s job to go out and do some policy-changing, it’s the ROTC supporters. ROTC violates Stanford’s nondiscrimination clause; if you don’t like that, then you need to go out and try to change whatever’s stopping ROTC from coming back (here, the trans policy) so that ROTC fits the university standards for inclusion on our campus. It is not up to us to prove the worth of *your* program to the university. That’s your job.

    And anyway, Jim, you seem to want to blame others for not trying to change the policy directly. But that’s an irrelevant and unrealistic expectation–this ROTC debate is still pretty recent, and I’m certain that a subset of students who are against ROTC’s return on the basis of its policies *will* go on to try to change the policy directly, but their first goal is to stop it from coming to Stanford: then they go out, change the policy, and the university can then decide whether it wants to bring ROTC back without having to deal with these sticky policy issues. In the meantime, the committee on ROTC hasn’t even issued its own recommendation, so I assume the general attitude is that there’s one last battle to fight on campus here, before engaging in the full-on war.

  • Sarah

    “Stop the rhetoric for a moment, and honestly say; how are trans individuals harmed in any way by the program’s existence on campus? And don’t say it’s because of their inability to participate–they can’t participate off campus either. What makes off-campus ROTC okay and on-campus ROTC not? Where is the damage done?”

    What you’re missing here is that we’re also trying to change the rules of the military, on this campus or off. You’re looking at the CAMPAIGN TO ABSTAIN movement as something singular, when really it is a part of a national – actually, international – trans rights movement.

  • Sarah

    “but I do not agree with it when it’s used as an excuse to institutionalize homophobic discrimination”

    So why is the discrimination of the military okay when its institutionalizing transphobia?

  • @Sarah

    You misunderstand me–when I say “homophobic discrimination,” that includes transphobia. I know that not all trans individuals are gay, but my point is based on the premise that DADT is a strong indicator of homophobia and that now, even though DADT has been repealed (though not yet enacted), the drive behind that homophobia still exists in the form of transphobia, which is currently institutionalized. And I don’t support the use of certain “medical standards” when they’re just a disguise for that transphobia.

  • Sarah


    Sorry, I should have clarified that I was clarifying my response to that for Jim and not disagreeing with your statements. But homophobia and transphobia are different, and while they are definitely correlated, homophobia does not exist “in the form of” transphobia – they are both awful, but they are different. Other than that, I should clarify that I agree with you, but that I was pointing out something for the dissenters.

  • @Sarah

    “What you’re missing here is that…”

    Your international movement is one of abstaining from voting? Please post a link of this working on an international scale, and the significant impact on voting.

    Also, the Civil Right’s Movement of the 60’s relied on the courts. Do you think that it is okay for 9 old men and women to decide the fate of a minority? Voting is bad, the courts are bad, and certainly one person (the judicial branch) shouldn’t be able to decide such a fate. What you’re saying is that no branch of the government should be able to decide? Only the “interested parties?” I would be interested to see a country in which this sort of governance by special interest parties with no regard for the common populace would play out.

    See above for the definition of a failed state.

  • Sarah

    Hi @Sarah,

    Our abstain vote is part of an international movement – it is not the international movement itself. What you seem to be missing here is that international movements are people working together to do what they can for a single cause. An international movement is made up of many small pieces – this is one. And that’s why this is so important to us. In the fight for trans rights, as well as for the rights of other students on this campus and the maintenance of the non-discrimination policy, we cannot afford to lose even a single battle. Why? Because the loss of a single battle is the lost of rights for an entire group of people. I am voting abstain, and encouraging others to do so, because I believe that the civil rights of the minority should never be put up to the vote of the majority – or even vice versa.

    In the system that we have, certain branches of the government are able to determine the enforcement of civil rights. Here’s the difference: they are informed. When a Supreme Court case is laid out, so is all of the information pertaining to it. Those nine people are deciding on the issue because in our system, someone has to (although no, I don’t necessarily agree with the system, I am just a part of it), but those people are to be well-informed. We are encouraging students to abstain because we think that civil rights should not be up to everyone to vote on. If they must be voted on at all, it should be done so only after an extremely well-vetted process.

    Trans people, and people with disabilities and others protected under the non-discrimination clause, are NOT “special interest parties.” They are PEOPLE with RIGHTS that they deserve to have enforced. They are your friends, neighbors, peers, and family members.

    A failed state is one in which the very state violates its own policies (i.e., if Stanford allows ROTC to return in violation of its own non-discrimination policy) and one in which the state allows the population to decide whether another group of human beings should have rights. That is not only a failed state; that is despicable.


  • StanfordMBA

    I have never even seen a nasty transgender walking around campus, do they even exist? Or are they home playing dress up all day