A Progressive Perspective on What ROTC adds to Duke’s campus…and to our country

Three days ago, Harvard made the decision to reinstate the ROTC program on its campus after first eliminating it during the Vietnam War, and continuing to withhold support for the ROTC program because of DADT.  DADT offered a powerful justification for schools like UChicago, Yale, Brown and Columbia to withhold support for ROTC, but with DADT gone, will these schools follow in Harvard’s footsteps?

Not if students involved in the Keep ROTC Out movement have their way; giving into these pressures would represent a major mistake for Brown and its peer institutions.

The military is perhaps the single employment sector in which it is most important that there be intelligent, humane, and far-sighted individuals.  The only decision arguably more important than deciding how wars ought be fought is deciding whether or not they should be fought in the first place.   In our frenzy about community service, colleges have forgotten about the value of national service; in stressing the importance of humanitarianism and philanthropy, it is easy to forget the role the military can have in preventing unnecessary death and protecting democratic institutions.

That we need a military, in some form, at some size, is incontrovertible; without FDR’s fourth freedom we could have no civil society, no courts, no markets, no social safety nets, no public goods, and, for that matter, no institutions of higher educations.

The military is not a flawless institution, but that is only true because we are not a flawless country.  The military is nevertheless a vital institution, and one that can and does reform itself just as the United States can and does reform itself.  It should be noted that DADT repeal was with widespread Pentagon support.

A great part about attending Duke is interacting with people with profoundly different perspectives, who will go on to achieve great and different things, including serving in the military.  Brown will perpetuate an unfortunate insularity if it keeps ROTC off of campus.

An Open Letter regarding the Voter ID Law

Dear Senator Bob Rucho:

I’m writing you today, as a fellow citizen and North Carolinian, to express my firm, moral opposition to the NC GOP proposal that would require voters to present a DMV-issued identification at the polls.  I am not a registered voter in your district (rather, I am registered to vote in Durham County, where I go to school), but, were the Voter ID law to pass, I would be compelled by circumstance to switch my registration back to Mecklenburg County, where my driver’s license was issued, and would then become a voter in your district.  If my pleas as a citizen and North Carolinian, then, do not reach your ears, I hope my entreaties as a potential future voter in your district will.

We live in a democratic nation, one that derives its moral authority from its representation of all people, not only the wealthy, not only the able-bodied, and, speak more specifically, not only the people with $10 to pay the Department of Motor Vehicles, a way to get to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the means to take time off work or discharge the other necessary obligations in order to make the DMV trip.

If you pass this legislation, who then will speak for the homeless?  Who then will speak for the disabled?  Who will speak for the elderly and who will speak for the college students?

Should having a Hamilton in your pocket be a prerequisite for political representation?

There is reason to be concerned with voter fraud, the reason being that voter fraud distorts political outcomes, and prevents the true voice of the people from being heard.  But this legislation would be a much bigger distortion of political outcomes and a much bigger obstacle to the true expression of the people’s voice than the very harm it is meant to prevent!

This piece of legislation would be a systematic oppression, exclusion, and taxation of already vulnerable groups, and to no clear end.


Elena Botella


Has this letter galvanized you to action?  Advocate on behalf of voting rights!

Join Duke Democrats on the plaza to make phone calls to the members of the NC General Assembly Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 am until 4 pm.

Duke Dems endorses Sohn for YT

The Duke Democrats would like to endorse Michelle Sohn for Young Trustee; both she and Ben Getson are fully qualified to effectively communicate the concerns and ideas of the undergraduate student body to Duke’s Board of Trustees, and we therefore encourage Duke voters to rank both individuals highly on their ballots.

We encourage voters to place Michelle Sohn first on their ballots.  Duke Democrats believes that Ms. Sohn’s spark and energy will help her stand out on the Board at this crucial crossroads in Duke’s future.  She has shown aptitude in boardroom settings, demonstrating that she can show passion and commitment with a demeanor of utmost professionalism and amicability.  To speak more directly to her platform, we believe that Ms. Sohn is the best advocate for the progressive beliefs and ideals that we find important, including gender equality, multicultural diversity, and certain important issues of campus culture.  Ms. Sohn has a record of fighting to make our campus a more equitable and accepting environment.  Her strength as a communicator and her progressive vision of Duke lead us to believe that Ms. Sohn the best candidate for the position of Young Trustee.

We also encourage voters to place Ben Getson second on their ballots, and we believe that he is also extraordinarily qualified for the position.  Mr. Getson has great ideas for engaging the board and representing the undergraduate student body in future decision-making.  He truly shares Duke Democrat’s understanding of the socioeconomic climate of Duke’s campus, and will work to continue to break down boundaries.  Mr. Getson has experienced life on all three of Duke’s campuses, and has shown initiative in organizing students to forge new opportunities.  This experience would be advantageous during Duke’s transition to a residential house model.  Mr. Getson is also an effective communicator, and we believe that he is also an outstanding candidate for the position of Young Trustee.

%d bloggers like this: