The UCSB Academic Senate will host a “town hall” meeting today to discuss a proposal that seeks to ban military recruitment on campus.
The meeting will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the McCune Conference room on the sixth floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building. A panel of four speakers, composed of UCSB faculty and students, will talk about the Dept. of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward homosexuals in the military. The four panelists argue that recruiters should not be allowed onto campus because “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violates the University of California’s non-discrimination policy. Speeches will be limited to five minutes per person, and professor Walter Yuen, Academic Senate chair, will serve as moderator.
Thomas J. Scheff, sociology professor emeritus at UCSB, organized the event and said the forum is designed to show both sides of the argument.
“It is a necessary [meeting] to explore the issues, pro and con, behind the resolution,” he said.
Scheff said he could not find any faculty members to speak out against the proposal, which he authored and presented to the Academic Senate in January.
Charles Bazerman, chair of the UCSB Dept. of Education, helped organize the town hall meeting as well. He said the Solomon Amendment, approved by Congress in 1996, prompted the meeting. The amendment states that campuses must allow military recruiters on the campus in order to be eligible for federal funding.
“[The meeting] was fostered by the national concern of military policy and discrimination, [in accordance to] the Solomon Amendment,” Bazerman said.
Scheff’s proposal seeks to ban military recruiters from the campus for what it called “discriminatory practices.” Scheff also proposed another resolution to the Academic Senate calling for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at UCSB be required to go through the same anti-discrimination review process as other departments on campus. However, that bill is not slated to be discussed at today’s meeting.
There are several steps that would follow the forum, Scheff said. The faculty legislature and the Academic Senate will each vote on the resolution, but ultimately Chancellor Henry Yang would decide on the proposal.
Bazerman said the military’s policy forces gay service members to hide their identities.
“The campus has a non-discrimination policy and as part of that, we ought not to allow recruiting of organizations that discriminate on campus,” Bazerman said. “The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy’ of the military is putting gays, lesbians, etcetera in living conditions where they can’t be open to who they are and must misrepresent [themselves] and hide.”
Jacqueline Stevens, a Law & Society professor, will be the first speaker and she will address the Solomon Amendment.
Kyle A. Richards, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity director, another panelist, said discrimination against gays has been prevalent in the past and continues today, especially with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“The military has been discriminating against LGBT since the beginning of time,” he said. “The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, initiated by the Clinton administration in 1993, was [created] as a means to alleviate discrimination. In theory, it was seen as a step forward, however the military still dishonorably discharges people – firing people from jobs simply because of who they choose to love.”