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Marine recruiter goes on campus to explain "don't ask" policy

Marine recruiter goes on campus to explain "don't ask" policy

Marine captain David Doucette was allowed to bring his recruiting message to the Middlebury College campus in Vermont on Wednesday, but not before answering questions about the military's policy regarding gays and lesbians. More than 150 Middlebury College students and faculty questioned Doucette on Tuesday night about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in an hour-long session required by the college in order for the recruiter to come on campus. The session featured a vigorous but respectful exchange, with all but one comment from the overflow crowd directed against the military's policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving. Previously Middlebury barred the military from recruiting on campus. The liberal arts school insisted that organizations comply with the college's antidiscrimination policy, and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" violated Middlebury's rules. No recruiters came to campus for decades, according to Terri Jackman of the Career Services Office. That changed last week, however, after a request by a student that the college change its rule to allow offending recruiters on campus--as long as they explain themselves first. "If you don't tell me and I don't find out, you can join the military. There are members of the military right now who are gay, bisexual, or lesbian," Doucette, of Albany, N.Y., said of the military's policy. He said discovery of a person's sexual orientation as gay likely would result in discharge. Doucette came to campus for three days to recruit for the Platoon Leader's Class, a military program that allows freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to attend Officer Candidate School during the summer and then receive a commission upon graduation. An explanation is good for one academic year, Jackman said. College spokesman Phil Benoit said the school's former rules were not directed at the military but affected no other organizations. Doucette said he's never encountered a requirement like Middlebury's during his 11 years in the military, including recruiting trips to the University of Vermont in Burlington and St. Michael's College in Colchester. Steve Jasikoff, a 22-year-old senior from Ovid, N.Y., and a member of the College Republicans, said he has considered a career in the military but has reservations about "don't ask, don't tell." Middlebury, he said, should welcome every group to campus wholeheartedly, even the military, and not subject a recruiter to such intense grilling. Katie Harrold, 21, a junior from Newton, Mass., and copresident of the Middlebury Open Queer Alliance, said she'd rather the college prohibit any group that violates the campus antidiscrimination policy. Doucette told the crowd that "don't ask, don't tell," which was enacted in 1993, is less strict than previous military rules on homosexuality. If people want to see the law changed further, he said, they should contact their legislators. "If you have a problem with what I'm talking about tonight," he said, "it's your duty as a proud American to do something about it." (AP)

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