“In the Dairy State You Cannot Discriminate:” Protesting Military Homophobia at UW–Madison

In April 1990, students crowded around UW–Madison Chancellor Donna Shalala’s office demanding the expulsion of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) from campus. Student activists sought to ban the ROTC because of the U.S. military’s discriminatory policies against gays and lesbians. This protest was the culmination of years of activism on the part of students and faculty who argued that the military’s exclusion of gay and lesbian service members contradicted laws against discrimination in the state of Wisconsin as well as the university’s avowed commitment to diversity and equality. Though the ROTC remained on campus, the student protests at UW inspired a surge of anti-ROTC activism at campuses across the country.