While much has been made of the opposition to bringing ROTC back to Stanford’s campus, especially in recent weeks, the movement to bring ROTC back, or at least to support the ROTC ballot question, has certainly not been as loud. Monday morning and afternoon, Stanford undergraduate and Marine Corps veteran Sebastain Gould was in White Plaza encouraging students to vote “Yes” on the ROTC ballot question, which asks students if they want to see ROTC return to Stanford’s campus.
During the day, Gould distributed an open letter, entitled ‘Do NOT Abstain, Vote on ROTC’, asking students to “support your fellow students who have made the decision to dedicate their lives to public service, and put themselves in harm’s way.” In the letter, Gould discusses his background and reasons for campaigning to bring ROTC back to campus:
“I left Stanford after my freshman year to join the Marine Corps, in an attempt to understand the sacrifices that veterans of all wards have undergone. Now that I am back at Stanford, I hope to share my experience with others. This would be greatly facilitated by the existence of ROTC on campus; it would provide a community center for the military-connected students at our University, and a focal point for military related questions and discussion.”
The letter is a counterpoint to the Campaign to Abstain, a student movement to encourage voters to abstain from voting on the ROTC ballot question in protest. The Campaign to Abstain argues that students should abstain from voting “…because this is an issue of civil rights…ROTC explicitly excludes individuals who they deem to be transgender or disabled under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
In response to loud opposition to ROTC’s return from the Campaign to Abstain, SSQL and other student groups, Gould remarked in his letter, “…please do not let special interest groups silence your opinion…democracy needs participation. The referendum was created to gauge student opinion, and there is currently a campaign to steal your vote.”
Monday morning, Gould put up pro-ROTC flyers around campus. By early afternoon, he claims, they had been ripped and vandalized:
Regarding the vandalism of the fliers, Gould remarked: “I’ve talked a little bit with people and I’m not sure how I feel. If this is socially acceptable, then I guess it’s not a big deal. I don’t think I’d ever feel comfortable doing this to others’ fliers, though.”