Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Olin students to receive notification letters explaining University’s compliance at career fairs with military’s LGBT policies

| News Editor
DavidDresnerEDIT

Senior David Dresner, co-founder of the “Right Side of History.” (Sam Guzik | Student Life)

Pat Carr | MCT Campus

Pat Carr | MCT Campus

Several weeks ago, senior David Dresner approached a military recruitment table at a University career fair, announced that he was gay and asked for an application. He was promptly denied.

The moment was not an extraordinary one.

Campus career fairs contradict the University’s non-discrimination policy by allowing the United States military, which will not enlist openly gay men and women, to recruit on campus. The University career fairs generally host employers that have non-discriminatory hiring policies akin to those of the University’s.

But because the University receives federal funding, it is required by law to allow military recruiters on campus, even though the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bars openly gay people from enlisting in the armed forces.

Law students are already aware of the University’s conflicting obligation to allow recruiters on campus, as they are notified by letter every time military representatives attend a law school career fair. Now, thanks to the “Right Side of History” LGBT rights campaign, undergraduate students will soon be receiving similar notifications.

Dresner, co-founder of the “Right Side of History,” is spearheading a movement to bring similar notification letters to all undergraduate students. The “Right Side of History” seeks equality for the LGBT community by engaging straight youth. Dresner recently met with representatives from the Olin Business School, who agreed to send out the letters to business students.

“[They] were incredibly supportive, enthusiastic and gave me ways to move forward,” Dresner, an Olin student, said of the business school representatives.

Mark Brostoff, dean and director of the business school’s Weston Career Center, says he believes the letters will make clear that the University does not support the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Brostoff, an openly gay man, served in the U.S. navy from 1982-2002, before and after congress implemented “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Since he left the military, Brostoff has been nationally recognized for his work with LGBT career development.

“[The letters are] an acknowledgment that military recruiting on campus is not aligned with our school’s non-discrimination policies and that we recognize this as a matter of law that we do not condone,” Brostoff wrote in an e-mail to Student Life.

Senior Michael Freedman, a member of the “Right Side of History” campaign, says he thinks notification letters will help raise awareness on campus about society’s discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“I think [a letter] sends the message that discrimination is something real and is still happening now,” Freedman said. “I think oftentimes we mistakenly think of discrimination as a thing of the past. Hopefully, the letter will cause some straight students who maybe haven’t thought about the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy or discrimination against LGBT people to think,” Freedman said.

History: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and military recruiters on campus

News of the notification letters comes just days after President Obama announced that he is committed to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Obama’s pledge, made at a benefit on Saturday for the LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), comes more than 15 years after the military’s policy went into effect.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was enacted under the Clinton administration in 1993. In response, many schools refused to allow military recruiters on their campuses. Congress, in turn, responded with the Solomon Amendment, a 1995 law that permits Congress to cut federal funding from any university that does not allow military recruiters.

“[The Solomon Amendment] was this poison pill that schools were forced to swallow,” said Davin Rosborough, former president of OUTLaw, the law school’s LGBT activist group.

Following the Solomon Amendment, law schools across the country started sending notification letters to their students.

Rosborough says he understands the University is abiding by the Solomon Amendment but emphasizes that the University is not obliged to follow it.

“I think many of us understand the choice that the University made but we should remember it’s still a choice, although the University’s hand was forced,” Rosborough said.

Drafting the letter

Freedman is currently working with the deans of the business school to draft this letter. Set to be sent out before the next business school career fair, the final letter must be approved by Dean of the business school Mahendra Gupta.

The Right Side of History is currently working with Mark Smith, director of the Washington University Career Center, the National Society of Black Engineers and deans from each of the University’s individual schools to get other career fairs on campus to issue similar letters. .

Jim Holobaugh: Openly gay and former WU ROTC cadet

Perry Stein
Editor in Chief

The direct consequences of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have a history on Wash. U.’s campus. Jim Holobaugh, a 1990 alum and former Army cadet who attended the University on a four-year ROTC scholarship, had his scholarship revoked in 1990 after he came out as gay. Although the Army eventually reversed its decision, this incident brought Wash. U.’s ROTC program to the forefront of the national media in the early ’90s.

Last spring, Wash. U. hosted the inaugural James M. Holobaugh honors—an awards ceremony recognizing leadership and service to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The awards ceremony was created to commemorate Holobaugh’s story.

Holobaugh discussed his opinions on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy while on campus last year for the awards ceremony.

“I think it’s a bad policy,” he said. “I think it should change. I think it will change probably in the not-too-distant future. It’s enforced in a very haphazard way.”

  • M

    Regarding John’s comment:

    I would think the same could be said about “overtly heterosexual” military personnel who create an uncomfortable environment via heterosexist/sexist comments. Or, the same could be said about “overtly Christian” or “overtly non-Christian” military personnel who create an uncomfortable environment via their religious comments.

    Yet heterosexuals and religious people are allowed to openly serve and are not necessarily punished like openly homosexual military personnel are.

    Seems like discrimination to me.

  • gay vet

    listen..I’m gay and I served over 10 years including a combat tour in the Army. I kept my sexual orientation under wraps because the motor pool or Bn. HQ was not the place to discuss what I did in the bedroom. I did my job to the best of my ability. I will be the first to say that if you did your job most didn’t care less. I was SFC at work and my home life was just that. To the best of my knowledge no one knew about me until way after I got out. I’m all for gays serving. The ones going in right now KNOW the policy so keep your mouths shut and do your job. The Military isn’t going take it if you start flaunting your sexuality. But most gays I knew while in kept their orientation off base and did their jobs..usually with high marks.
    Lets face the facts…gays have served their country and will continue to do so. My take is that if some gay in the military is flaunting their sexuality..then boot their a**** out ASAP but if they are abiding by the current policy set forth by the DoD then let them serve. I’m proud of my time in the Army and I kept thing very professional and 95% of the gays now serving have the same attitude.

  • John

    Adam,

    “Furthermore, Washington University is potentially protecting itself from costly lawsuits by explaining its actions in a letter.”

    So you are saying: A gay student walks into the career fair, goes to the military recruiting booth, is denied an application because he says he is openly gay, and then sues WashU… You don’t think that case would be dismissed immediatley (given the Solomon Ammendment and the Supreme Court’s decision)? Yea…. right… I’m sure that’s the reasoning that WashU used.

    “Finally, as somebody who knows Mr. Dresner and as an openly gay person myself, I assure you that the act of coming out and being openly gay is not something that people do in
    order to get a rise out of others.”

    Is this a serious response to anything I said? Explain Dresner’s purpose in going up to a recruiter and telling him he is gay and then asking for an application? Was he really planning on applying to be in the military? No. You admit the point I was making, which is: “Mr. Dresner doesn’t want to get a rise out of recruiters, Mr. Dresner wants to highlight the injustice of the DADT policy.”

    Where you wrote “highlight the injustice”. I wrote “get an article in StudLife to promote his new organization”. I think we would agree that they are not mutually exclusive and are just very convenient. Either way… Keeping in mind injustice is your word – not mine.

    “There are many patriotic gay Americans who cannot serve in the military because they are gay and [this] policy [...] is certainly discriminatory.”

    You do realize gay people can serve in the military right? You do realize the person quoted in the article served in the military and was gay? I’m glad we understand the policy.

    Your entire argument is that you believe a gay person has the FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT to disclose their sexual orientation to other people on the job (given that the prevailing view in the military is this could diminish performance). You refer to this as discimination. Am I wrong?

  • Hakim

    scott responds to John quotes… “and you want to give people who lose their discipline and morale simple because they’re near a gay person a big gun?”

    scott. if you were in the military you would know that the word gun is never referred to as a weapon but as a penis.

    so what do you mean big gun?

  • imo

    Great win for the Right Side of History;; LOL

    In the navy
    Yes, you can sail the seven seas
    In the navy
    Yes, you can put your mind at ease
    In the navy
    Come on now, people, make a stand
    In the navy, in the navy
    Can’t you see we need a hand
    In the navy

  • Joe

    Great win for the Right Side of History

  • Scott

    John quotes: “The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the armed forces to maintain discipline, good order, and morale.”
    … and you want to give people who lose their discipline and morale simple because they’re near a gay person a big gun?

    Ex Navy: “It will likely turn into something where openly gay folks are allowed to serve, but not allowed to flaunt their gayness. Without sounding prejudiced the gay community is pretty good at displaying flamboyance.”
    WSP Fail. Besides, unless they’re having buttsex in front of their peers, they’re not really flaunting their gayness, now are they?

  • ex navy guy

    I think many of the above strings have really good points.
    John is coming from a place of truth and patriotism as is Adam. No reason to belittle each other. This is heavy stuff with lots of emotion and rational thought mixed in. It does seem counterintuitive to allow openly gay people in the military or in combat roles, but it probably seemed that way years ago with allowing woman serving side by side with men in combat roles.
    No one wants their military to be less effective. We all want equal rights as long as those rights don’t hurt the innocent or hurt the military’s mission effectiveness. A strong military is more important to most Americans then political correctness.

    I think eventually, and hopefully only after the current wars are over, the “don’t ask policy” will give way or evolve.
    It will likely turn into something where openly gay folks are allowed to serve, but not allowed to flaunt their gayness. Without sounding prejudiced the gay community is pretty good at displaying flamboyance.

  • future doc

    I like “Iraq Vets” idea. Instead of don’t ask don’t tell policy just let let a person declare their sexual orientation when signing up and after that subsribe to the policy of ” NO ONES BUSINESS. Lets call it NOB.

  • Bill

    As a current member of the military, I can say that the discrimination is definitely still there, but I think it’s a policy that needs to go. Yes, it will cause some problems at first, but it’ll lead to better policies with recognizing gay marriage in the military (notice the desegregation back in the Civl Rights Era occurred in the military first).

    So while it may seem backwards to some, the policy had its purpose, but that purpose no longer applies.

    Little known fact: The policy was actually lifted at the start of the first Gulf War to prevent stop-loss for troops deploying that were declaring their homosexuality to get out of deployment. Did the lift on that ban hurt mission effectiveness? I think not. That was our last successful military operation, getting Iraq to back off of Kuwait.

  • paul

    This is a load of it. I’m a student here and applied to the military. I was rejected due to medical reasons, but in the process I discovered that almost no one on this campus would even fathom military service. Most of this campus cringes at the sight of a paper cut.

    The military is here because they give us money, they have every right to be here. If you want to make a big deal out of their policies, then you better be in the minority of students who would even THINK about serving this country. And I believe that there are already more people responding to this thread than are in that minority.

    I have no problem with someone who would consider serving complaining about don’t ask don’t tell. But announcing your gay to a recruiter before asking for an application, or using the military’s legitimate right to recruit citizens to defend our nation as a means of advancing gay rights is an outright insult. If you don’t approve of don’t ask don’t tell, then write your frickin congressman, don’t try to inhibit our nation’s military for following their orders.

    There are plenty of opportunities to debate whether don’t ask don’t tell works. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

    I’m sick and disgusted that this school cares more about its image than promoting citizenship and service to our nation.

  • jcd

    LOL @ john’s ignorance

  • Adam

    John,

    If you read DOD Directive 1332.14 you might notice two things.

    First, “The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the armed forces to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among service members; to ensure the integrity of the system of rank and command; to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of service members who frequently must live and work in close conditions affording minimal privacy; to recruit and retain members of the armed forces; to maintain the public acceptability of military service; and to prevent breaches of security.”

    How can a policy purport to advance mutual trust when somebody is essentially forced to hide the truth in order to serve in the military along side other armed servicemen and women? Without truth, there cannot be trust. Furthermore, just because somebody doesn’t say they are gay to others doesn’t mean they are not gay. If a gay person is going to live in close quarters with people of the same gender, is it more likely that they will make advances toward another person of the same gender if they are openly gay, just because they are openly gay? As an openly gay man, I can honestly say that the way that I interacted with other men was no different before I came out then after.

    Second, DOD Directive 1332.14 was written in 1981, more than ten years before the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy was implemented. While the arguments in the directive have been used to justify DADT, it does not necessarily mean that our understanding of homosexuality has not evolved.

    That said, the Supreme Court has ruled that many things are constitutionally permissible and yet people do have the right to disagree with those things. Washington University, as an accepting, open-minded, forward-thinking institution, does have a duty to explain its stance. Many students may not realize why Washington University allows military recruiters onto a campus that supports equality. Furthermore, Washington University is potentially protecting itself from costly lawsuits by explaining its actions in a letter. While you may see it as a waste of money, many students and members of the administration see it as a wise use of University funds to print a letter explaining a policy decision that is at odds with its admissions and diversity policies.

    Finally, as somebody who knows Mr. Dresner and as an openly gay person myself, I assure you that the act of coming out and being openly gay is not something that people do in order to get a rise out of others. I can think of several better ways of doing that that would put me in a lot less personal danger from people who are narrow-minded and unaccepting. When I came out I knew of the personal danger that I might face but I did it because I felt people could not trust me if I was lying to them about such a basic part of my identity, I did not do it because I wanted to get a rise out of my friends or family. Before you argue against another persons stance, you may want to consider why a person takes certain actions. Mr. Dresner doesn’t want to get a rise out of recruiters, Mr. Dresner wants to highlight the injustice of the DADT policy. There are many patriotic gay Americans who cannot serve in the military because they are gay and a policy that excludes people because of something that most people would argue is not a choice is certainly discriminatory. Mr. Dresner is fighting against that discrimination and I am proud to join him in his fight even if it is not on an actual battlefield.

  • Iraq vet

    This is all a bunch of bull. Don’t ask don’t tell does work. As I see it the main issue is the men and woman who want to display their sexual orientation and let it be known to everyone they meet have no business in the military. It hurts moral and does not contribute to anything in the military. It is purely political.
    It’s interesting that President Obama has not changed the policy. He can do it with an executive order without congress.

    I have talked to some high ranking officers and many think the solution is when you sign up you can state your orientation if you care to and after that its NO ONES BUSINESS.

    There are probably thousands of gays in the military but again its nobodies business. The only people who care about this are the gay rights community pushing for their own agenda.
    I personally know several gays in the military. One is an exceptional officer with over 17 years in. Most of his fellow officers know he is gay and they don’t give a damn. But the men he commands do not know and he admits it would absolutely affect his command presence if they knew as he has a combat command. I know gay marine sergeant and she has no problem with the current policy. It’s no ones business just as its no ones business what religion you are, or what your ethnic background is.

  • WUndergrad

    Whether or not the sexual orientation and choices undermine the effectiveness of individuals in the military is much less the point here at WashU than it is that thispurportedly nondiscriminatory institution directly contradicts itself by allowing military recruiters to appear on campus. It is a difficult economic time, yes – we are all feeling the squeeze. But Washington University is currently risking its own students, and its reputation as a forward-thinking and accepting institution, for the sake of federal funding which is based in archaic and disgusting policies. Thank you, RSOH & Stud Life for bringing to the greater consciousness this reality.

  • john

    A number of generals have recently said they no longer believe that openly gay people in the military would undermind its effectiveness and that the rule should be eliminated. Obviously, this is the result of more progressive attitutdes toward gay people in our country; however, again this points to the original reason this policy exists (the effectiveness of the military) rather than discriminatory practices.

    Speaking to this point is the fact that federal courts have upheld this policy on five different occasions and as recently as this summer the Supreme Court has rejected the opportunity to hear an appeal.

    Also in 2006 the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Solomon Ammendment. Just in case you were interested in the constituionality of this policy but I wouldn’t think you were.

  • john

    With the exception of Mr. Brostoff, none of the people in this article have been to war or served in the military. This policy was created by the military and is still used by the military because they believe it serves a valid purpose. Here is a the relavent Department of Defense directive:

    “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. The presence in the military environment of persons who engage in homosexual conduct or who, by their statements, demonstrate a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct, seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission. The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the armed forces to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among service members; to ensure the integrity of the system of rank and command; to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of service members who frequently must live and work in close conditions affording minimal privacy; to recruit and retain members of the armed forces; to maintain the public acceptability of military service; and to prevent breaches of security.” (DOD Directive 1332.14 , January, 1981)

    The military cleary feels like enough of those serving would be uncomfortable with openly gay people in these conditions that it would be detrimental to the military’s effectiveness. Now, I have never served in the military either but I know enough to know that we probably can’t imagine what it’s like and without that experience it is impossible for any of you to make a informed argument against the policy refuting the military’s basis.

    Yes, descriminiation happens. The military’s policy here is no way discriminatory. Gay people are allowed to serve in the military, they just can’t be openly gay. Openly gay people cannot serve because the military has deemed it detrimental to its operations because it could compromise the effectiveness of soldiers who are uncomfortable being in close quarters with gay people (not simply because they are gay). I know this my be a difficult distinction for yall to understand but there is a clear difference. This is equivalent to the Bona Fide Occupational Qualification exemption given to employers when groups of people are rejected for employment (which would otherwise be considered discriminatory); however, an exemption is given because the group’s exclusion is necessary for the performance of the organization.

    Nobody is saying you can’t be gay but they are saying if you are going to be in the military, you can’t run around telling people you are gay just to get a rise out of people. Clearly, Mr. Dresner does not plan on going into the military so I assume his comment to the recruiter was only to get a rise out of him so he could subsequently report it to the paper in order to get the world out about his organization. If you’re going to start an organization, do something useful and productive rather than having the school waste tuition money by sending out letters explaining two policies that all students are already aware of.

    Thanks

  • Stan

    It would be great if these articles had some way for students to get involved in the Right Side of History.

  • WashU Man

    This article should focus on the tremendous effort this guy Dresner has put into his Right Side of History campaign, and it should have further highlighted how successful the campaign has been in just a month. I’ve read and heard so much about these kids, and I’m not even annoyed yet…just impressed.

    Nice first “victory”, to RSOH. I expect more to come…

  • Concerned student

    First Victory for the Right Side of History!