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Text of Deutch's letter to Cheney

Text of Deutch's letter to Cheney

I am writing to you to express the concern of MIT about the ROTC policy not to accept gay or lesbian students into its programs and to require avowed homosexuals to disenroll and pay back scholarship funds.

This policy discriminates against students on the basis of sexual orientation, in contradiction to the policy of MIT and many other universities. I believe the ROTC policy to be wrong and shortsighted. Individuals should be accepted into the military service without regard to sexual preference, subject only to the same expectation of responsible personal conduct that applies to heterosexual individuals. I believe that the DOD should reverse this discriminatory policy just as it has reversed prior discriminatory policies against blacks and women.

However, my main purpose in writing to you is to point out the risk that this policy poses for continuation of ROTC on the campuses of many of the leading US colleges and universities. The contradiction between the university's principle of nondiscrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, and the presence of an ROTC that does discriminate, cannot exist on the campuses indefinitely. Many universities will withdraw from the ROTC program.

In my judgment, ROTC should remain on university campuses for three reasons. First, it provides an important source of financial support for students. For example, at MIT we currently have 220 MIT students enrolled in Air Force, Navy and Army ROTC units. These students receive, in aggregate, $3.3 million annually to support their studies. If these students did not receive support from ROTC, it would be necessary for both MIT and the student to find alternative sources of support. Second, I believe universities should continue ROTC for those students who wish to pursue a military career: This is not an insignificant number of MIT undergraduate students. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the ROTC program provides a continuing source of educated and motivated officers for the nation's defense establishment.

I believe that most faculty members are not opposed to ROTC. But a faculty member cannot be expected to support an activity on campus that is in direct contradiction to the principles of the university. It is particularly unfortunate that the minority of students and faculty who oppose any connection between the university and the DOD can use this issue to advance a generally anti-military position. Thus, one unfortunate consequence of this policy is to increase hostility to the DOD on university campuses.

What might be done? First, I urge you to reconsider the policy barring homosexuals from participating in ROTC. Second, I believe that the present policy can be administered in a manner that minimizes potential friction. For example, if a cadet is dismissed from ROTC for being an avowed homosexual, significant latitude should be given to local ROTC units to determine if repayment of scholarship funds should be required. In several cases, including that of USN Cadet Robert L. Betticker here at MIT, the recommendation of the local unit not to require payment was not followed at higher echelons. Such action, which I understand has occurred in other ROTC cases elsewhere, can be expected to increase friction in an already difficult situation.

Beyond the question of principle, you should also be concerned that the issue of homosexual participation in ROTC and the military generally will become a vehicle for those who are dedicated critics of the nation's defense establishment and the historical relationship between the DOD and the nation's leading universities. I hope that you will devote some consideration to this matter, which I view as potentially quite serious. Of course, I am prepared to assist you in any way you might find useful.

cc:[ix]Mr. Donald Atwood

General Colin Powell

Admiral Carl Trost

Mr. Paul Wolfowitz

[xi]