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Naval ROTC returning to Yale after 40 years

Program’s restoration follows end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2011

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale University has agreed to bring back the ROTC for the first time in decades after Congress voted to allow gays to serve openly in the military.

Yale President Richard Levin and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed an agreement Thursday that establishes the Naval ROTC's formal presence at Yale for the first time since the early 1970s. Harvard University welcomed back the Reserve Officers Training Corp in March, and Columbia University said Wednesday it would sign an agreement allowing the ROTC back onto campus.

"The renewal of a formal relationship with Yale will serve to bring dozens of new and talented officers who will carry on Yale's tradition of service into the Navy and Marine Corps each year," Mr. Mabus said. "The presence of NROTC will enrich and strengthen both the military and the educational experience of all students."

The ROTC left prominent universities amid anti-Vietnam War sentiment. Colleges more recently kept it off campus because of the military's policy on gays, which they considered discriminatory. The lame-duck Congress repealed the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy in December.

A handful of Yale students have been involved with ROTC, but they must attend training at other colleges.

The ROTC unit at Yale will be the Navy's only ROTC unit in Connecticut. The Yale unit's first class of ROTC midshipmen will enter in the fall of 2012.

In addition to Yale students, the unit will enroll students from other public and private universities in the state that participate under crosstown arrangements.

"The new Navy ROTC unit at Yale continues the university's proud tradition of educating students who serve our country's armed forces," Mr. Levin said. "From Lexington to Afghanistan, our students and graduates have contributed to the nation's defense, and the return of NROTC will make it easier for the most talented young men and women who aspire to leadership in our military to gain a Yale education."

The establishment of the Yale unit will make Naval ROTC much more attractive for Connecticut students, many of whom would otherwise travel substantial distances to the nearest Naval ROTC program, officials said.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, a Yale alumnus who had urged Yale to bring the ROTC back, welcomed the agreement.

"This is a terrific day for Yale and for the Navy, and President Levin and Secretary Mabus deserve huge credit for the investment of time and effort and personal commitment they shared to make this happen," he said. "Any time you make peace with the past and make a new beginning, it's important, and this is an accomplishment worthy of celebration."

Yale officials also said they hope to enhance their affiliation with Air Force ROTC.

Votes by Yale faculty on May 5 paved the way for the re-establishment of ROTC on its campus, and the Yale Corporation, the university's governing board, voted its approval on Tuesday. A survey conducted by the Yale College Council last fall found that an overwhelming majority of Yale students support having ROTC on the Yale campus, college officials said.

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