Several professors in the Academic Senate are attempting to rid the campus of U.S. military presence because of what they refer to as “discriminatory” practices.

A resolution presented Jan. 20 and signed by 17 Senate members states that the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — which forbids members of the armed forces from discussing their sexual orientation — conflicts with the campus’ principles of nondiscrimination. The proposal calls for the expulsion of campus military recruiters and a review of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program by the university’s Program Review Panel. Although the Senate tabled the resolution for further discussion, sociology Professor Emeritus Thomas J. Scheff — who drafted the proposal — said he hopes to hold a vote on it by July 1.

Scheff said the military discriminates against and therefore violates the First Amendment rights of homosexual and transgender persons in order to maintain a powerful and masculine reputation.

“The concepts of honor and manliness are the chief lures they have to get young people to fight and die,” Scheff said. “I believe the military cannot afford to obey the law because they feel they must uphold the manliness of fighting.”

One of the resolution’s signers and Education Dept. chair, Charles Bazerman, said the proposal is both a gay rights and anti-war effort. Bazerman said the issues may be separate, but both reflect the government’s disrespect of human dignity.

“Several current policies of our government do not serve our military well and do not respect the dignity and sacrifice of the individuals in the armed forces,” Bazerman said. “The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy puts added stress on soldiers and operations, limits the potential personal resources of the military and creates an atmosphere that doesn’t reflect the best of American values. The war in Iraq is a separate policy that wastes our youth and treasure for little cause and little hope of success. Although these are separate policy issues, we at the university should do all we can to ensure our students are recruited only into those endeavors that respect who they are.”

Staff Sgt. Bobbie Bryant, chief of advertising and public relations for the U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station in Los Angeles, said those who wish to ban military recruiters on campus are misdirected in their efforts.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is not a Marine Corps policy, it is a policy of the Dept. of Defense, which we must follow,” Bryant said. “The professors have every right to voice their concerns about military recruitment on their campus. But Marines are Americans who fight for American freedoms like the First Amendment that allows the professors to safely voice their concerns.”

Scheff said attempts in years past to embargo the military’s presence on campus would have been problematic because of the 1996 Solomon Amendment. With the amendment, the government could withhold funding from institutions of higher education if they banned the ROTC program or military recruiting. A recent Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals decision, however, ruled the amendment unconstitutional. Harvard and other private schools have since barred recruiters and the ROTC program from their campuses, Scheff said.

Besides the banning of recruiters, Scheff’s resolution calls for a review of the ROTC and the possibility of discrimination violations.

Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said the ROTC does is not currently subject to review because, unlike other reviewed programs, it does not grant students a degree. The Academic Senate is currently considering if and how the ROTC should be reviewed.

The function of the ROTC, which currently enrolls 57 cadets, is to work with students so they may be commissioned as U.S. Army officers upon graduation, said Master Sgt. Carl Torkelson of the UCSB Military Science Dept. Once they become officers, they are accountable to military policies such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In the ROTC, students can express any sexual orientation, but superiors will remind them of the policy to prevent any misunderstanding when they serve, Torkelson said. Because students are made aware of the policy before they join the military, the ROTC should not be blamed for discrimination, he said.

Torkelson said the aim of the policy is to maintain military solidarity.

“When discomfort and mistrust are introduced into a fighting unit, the sense of camaraderie and teamwork, which is essential to the military, is compromised,” he said.

Torkelson also said shutting down the ROTC would be a disservice to the many students who want to be a part of it and would benefit from the elective courses it offers.

Scheff said that he realizes his resolution could potentially inconvenience some students, but he wants to look at the situation in broader terms.

“Political decisions, since they pertain to many issues and many people, are always a matter of carefully weighing pros and cons,” Scheff said. “My vote is for barring recruiters and at least reviewing ROTC. My sense is that the inconvenience to some students is more short-run, [affecting] fewer people; the harm more long-term, and to more people. The war system in which we are all so deeply involved has become too destructive to tolerate any longer.”

Expelling military presence on campus, Bryant said, could lead to more dire consequences than have been considered by those who claim it as a momentary inconvenience.

“The military is entirely a volunteer force — we are not forcing anyone to join,” Bryant said. “We inform people about the military and they ask us questions. If they don’t want to join they can simply walk away. If this is an anti-war effort it should be conducted through elected officials and the Dept. of Defense. The military must meet its personnel requirements, and if all colleges barred us from recruiting, I don’t see what other choice the government would have other than to institute a draft.”