To all UW-Stout Staff:
When I made my decision on inviting ROTC to campus, neither I nor my senior staff were aware of a much earlier Board of Regents position on this nor did we clearly understand the application of federal law. After contact from UW System’s General Counsel, it became clear to me that campus attempts to prohibit an ROTC chapter may be a violation of regent policy and federal law. In reading the law it appears that barring ROTC could place significant amounts of federal funding for us at risk. Based on this, I have concluded that we must revisit this issue.
The original decision to end discussion was based solely on the fact that ROTC’s position on banning people because of their stated sexual orientation did not conform with our strong institutional position for inclusion and tolerance. That concern still stands. Likewise, it was not intended to be a political statement nor was it meant to comment on ROTC itself, the war in Iraq, or the military. I want to make it clear that we did not yield to external political pressure in changing this position. At the same time, we cannot go against Board policy or federal law.
I will immediately appoint a small team, representing me, to initiate discussions with the UW-Stevens Point ROTC officer as early as this week to review the next steps to establish an ROTC chapter on this campus if they choose to locate here. We will make every effort to assure that this is a positive relationship for our students and for the ROTC staff.
I appreciate the many comments I have received on this issue. Such dialog reflects the strength of our democracy and our open civil society.