Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) have long been banned from a number of college campuses since the Vietnam War days, but in more recent times, many schools used the excuse that the now former military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the primary reason for banning ROTC from their schools. However, times are changing and without a military draft or a DADT policy to complain about, universities are now being pressured to bring ROTC back to their campuses, and frankly, they should. Already, University leaders are weighing in.
Ed Bollinger, President of Columbia University, said in a statement on Wednesday:
“It [DADT’s repeal] also effectively ends what has been a vexing problem for higher education, including at Columbia — given our desire to be open to our military, but not wanting to violate our own core principle against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” continued Bollinger. “We now have the opportunity for a new era in the relationship between universities and our military services.”
Inside Higher Ed reports that Harvard University President Drew Faust made remarks on the issue as well:
Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, issued a statement casting the Senate’s vote over the weekend in historic terms. “It affirms American ideals of equal opportunity and underscores the importance of the right to military service as a fundamental dimension of citizenship,” said Faust, an historian of the Civil War and the American South, who said previously that the end of the policy would clear the way for ROTC’s return to Harvard. “It was no accident that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation not only guaranteed freedom to Black Americans but at the same time opened the Union Army to their participation. Because of today’s action by the Senate, gay and lesbian Americans will now also have the right to pursue this honorable calling, and we as a nation will have the benefit of their service.”
Yale University also weighed in and is looking to welcome back ROTC on their campus as well. The Yale Daily News writes:
Yale College Council President Jeff Gordon ‘12 said he supports have ROTC at Yale now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, adding that YCC will likely take that position as well. YCC members will meet with administrators early next semester to discuss ways to bring ROTC back to Yale. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an e-mail earlier this month that she still welcomes ROTC’s return to campus.
“We’re very excited and pleased with today’s results,” Gordon said. “This [decision in Congress] allows us to make the recommendations we wanted to make.”
Colleges and universities, long the bastion of left-wing academia, may start to welcome a military presence back on their campuses through ROTC, but do not expect many students, previously taught by the union public school system, and now by a faculty trained in liberal thought to fully embrace a uniformed presence on their campuses after so many decades.
The military is an environment of structure and discipline and is far different from the college campus often filled with abstract theories, social justice, and the politicization of education. ROTC may be free from harassment and expulsion over DADT today, but if an environment like a university lends itself to being anti-military, ROTC will find itself on the outside yet again.