Sara Isaacson was a University of North Carolina senior, paying for her education with a ROTC scholarship. She had wanted to serve in the U.S. military for many years, holding strong to the U.S. military's principles of honor and integrity.
Because she wanted to be open and honest with her ROTC commanders, Isaacson submitted a memo earlier this semester saying that she was gay. She told her commanders that the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was forcing her to lie, which was something that ran counter to the U.S. military culture of integrity.
What happened next is appalling. After commanders were told that Isaacson was gay, they kicked her out of UNC's ROTC program. Even worse, they demanded that she repay back $80,000 in scholarship money she received as a student.
No student should have to face discrimination like this. And UNC should not stand by silently while one of their own students is punished for being honest about their sexual orientation. UNC should take this opportunity to condemn the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
This policy has not only punished more than 13,500 U.S. troops, who have been kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. It's also punishing everyday students like Sara Isaacson, who only want to be honest and open about who they are.
Simply put, Sara Isaacson should not have to face this discrimination alone. UNC should speak up, and stand up for one of their students who would have made for a very well-qualified soldier in the U.S. military. If only she was given the chance.
- Vice President for Communications, University of North Carolina
- President, University of North Carolina
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs/Dean of Students
In April, ROTC commanders at the University of North Carolina (UNC) forced a senior, Sara Isaacson, to resign from ROTC after coming out as gay. In addition, commanders told Isaacson that she would have to repay upwards of $80,000 in scholarship money that she received to attend UNC, solely because she was a lesbian.
This decision is tragic, and showcases one of the many injustices that the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy brings on American citizens. More than 13,500 troops have been kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation, and now students like Sara Isaacson will be forced to incur crippling debt because she chose to be honest with UNC ROTC commanders.
This situation provides UNC a great stepping stone to condemn the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for what it is: one of the only remaining laws on the books that mandates discrimination by a federal institution. It punishes well qualified soldiers who only want to serve their country, and it punishes students who want to grow up and serve their country.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" runs counter to the U.S. military values of honesty and integrity; values that UNC also takes to heart as a university. The honest position for UNC to take in this situation is to condemn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as a flawed policy.
Thank you for your time.
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