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UC Irvine starts ROTC after ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal

October 7, 2011 |  2:22 pm

Don't Ask Don't Tell
UC Irvine has established its first ROTC program in the wake of the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The university had previously declined to sanction the military training program's presence on campus because it didn't comply with UCI's nondiscrimination policy. But as soon as President Obama signed the bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell" in December, the university began putting the plan in place to begin its inaugural class of U.S. Army ROTC students this fall.

"We've been prepared for it for a while," said Sharon Salinger, UCI's dean of undergraduate education, told the Daily Pilot. "We moved quite quickly when President Obama signed it."

The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, started in 1916 to provide leadership and military training at high schools and universities, has commissioned more than 500,000 officers. More than 20,000 cadets are enrolled across the country -- 20% of them women.

"Don't ask, don't tell" was adopted in 1993 under President Clinton. It allowed gays to serve in the military, provided they kept their sexual orientation secret.

The policy, which resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 servicemen and women over the years, strained relations between some colleges and military recruiters. While UCI was a holdout in the UC system -- UCLA, UC Berkeley and others have long-established ROTC programs -- many Ivy League schools also kept the doors closed to ROTC.

Many of those colleges are also now changing course. A few weeks ago, a formal ceremony was held at Harvard University to welcome the Navy's ROTC program back on campus.

About 20 students have signed up for the program at UC Irvine, though that number is likely to grow to about 80.


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-- Patrice Apodaca, Times Community News

Photo: A man holds a sign in support of the end of "don't ask, don't tell" in San Francisco in September. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images