Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig affirmed Thursday that ROTC commissioning ceremonies will remain on campus and said the best way to change military policy regarding homosexuals was to work through Congress and national education groups.
Budig was invited by faculty and students in University Council to explain his refusal to join the governance group's protest of Department of Defense policy. Council wants to ban from campus the annual Reserve Officer Traning Corps commissioning.
The chancellor said he agreed with council that Defense Department policies forbidding homosexual ROTC graduates from becoming officers in the U.S. armed forces should be reconsidered. But he disagreed with council on what tactics were appropriate to achieve that goal.
"I continue to believe that the most effective way for KU to seek a change in DOD policy is to work with other universities through our national associations and through our legislative representatives in Congress," Budig said.
"I am certain this matter will receive open and thorough consideration," he said. "I will await the conclusion of that discussion before considering any action that might adversely impact ROTC programs at KU."
THE COUNCIL voted this spring to make what some members call a symbolic protest against the DOD policy covering ROTC commissioning, because it violates KU regulations that protect students from discrimination based on sexual preference.
"I have spent much of my professional life working for the elimination of discrimination," Budig said. "I believe that we disagree over tactics, not substance, on the ROTC issue. I believe discriminatory practices have no place on a college campus."
Budig said unrest focused on the ROTC Army, Navy and Air Force units at KU could have a substantive impact. It is inevitable that the U.S. military will cut the number of ROTC programs and troublesome campuses could be targeted, he said.
"THE NUMBER of ROTC detachments will be reduced in the next few years. I want the (KU) detachments to be among the survivors. For the university to exclude them from the campus for commissioning would not in my judgment be helpful," he said.
Budig, an officer in the Air Force reserve, said he was proud of his association with the military branch. It is important that this country's military command be educated at state universities as well as military academies, he said.
Meanwhile, the council tabled a motion that would defer the council's recommendation on ROTC commissioning and that Budig appoint a special committee to "deal with problems of discrimination against homosexuals in ROTC programs."