- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, President Bush asked the nations of the world to decide if they are "with us" or "with the terrorists." He might consider asking the same question of Harvard University.
Despite the current war, Harvard continues to ban ROTC from its campus. Alone among student groups, ROTC is not permitted to use university facilities or advertise on campus. At the same time, radical Islamic student groups operate freely, have held on-campus fund-raisers for terrorist front groups and had one of their leaders selected as a commencement speaker.
Harvard's faculty voted to exile ROTC from campus in 1969, at the height of Vietnam-era unrest. The university maintained funding for the program until 1994, when the faculty voted to cut off financial support to protest the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding homosexuals. Alumni now independently provide annual funding of approximately $135,000.
Students participating in the program are subject to a variety of indignities. They must travel to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to participate in ROTC classes and activities. Unlike students at schools like MIT with full ROTC programs, Harvard students receive no academic credit for ROTC classes. Unlike all other Harvard student groups, they cannot distribute flyers or participate in student club fairs.
Students in the program end up feeling like second-class citizens. Charles Cromwell, student commander of Harvard's ROTC battalion, told the Wall Street Journal that he feels "uncomfortable walking around in uniform" at the school.
In fairness, Harvard's new president, Lawrence Summers, has taken some positive steps. He has praised the cadets for their willingness to sacrifice to defend our country and called the funding arrangement "uncomfortable." He also convinced the Harvard yearbook to acknowledge ROTC for the first time in many years. But there have been no changes in underlying policy.
In contrast, Islamic student groups are under no restrictions, despite their use of campus facilities to raise money for terrorist front groups. The school has given them privileged status by selecting one of their leaders as one of this year's commencement speakers.
In November 2000, the Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) and the Society of Arab Students (SAS) sponsored a well-publicized fund-raising dinner on campus to support the Holy Land Foundation and the Palestinian Red Crescent.
President Bush recently froze the assets of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) because of its direct financial support for Hamas and the families of suicide bombers. The Red Crescent, while still linked to the Red Cross and considered somewhat more legitimate than HLF, has also been implicated in terrorist activity. In the West Bank, Red Crescent vehicles have been used in actual attacks. Except for the freezing of assets, these facts were known at the time of the fund-raiser.
Under criticism, HIS and SAS eventually decided only to give funds to the Red Crescent. But the on-campus fund-raiser was held for both groups and the university did nothing to stop it. At the time, the former HIS president, Zayed Yasin, vocally defended HLF's support of the families of suicide bombers and lavishly praised the organization for its "incredible work." Mr. Yasin will be one of three student speakers at this week's commencement.
According to Harvard's associate dean of extracurricular life, David Illingworth, there are no specific regulations prohibiting student groups from using campus facilities to raise money for terrorist front groups. Though, for most fund-raisers, student groups must obtain his approval. Mr. Illingworth explained that, in the future, he would "probably" not approve a fund-raiser for a group like HLF, which has had its assets frozen. He said that he would still likely approve fund-raisers for groups that have not had their assets frozen, which would include the Red Crescent, the HLF at the time of the fund-raiser and a variety of other objectionable groups.
Allowing students to host fund-raisers for groups that are tied to Islamic extremist groups, whether their assets are frozen or not, makes a mockery of Harvard's anti-discrimination policy, which is the basis for the university's ban on ROTC. These groups engage in terrorism and espouse Nazi-like anti-Semitism and hate against a variety of groups, including homosexuals, clearly far worse than any "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Going further and elevating radical Islamist students at commencement shows the school's real priorities: the promotion of multiculturalism at the expense of Western and American values.
Harvard alumni should demand that groups linked to terrorists be kept off campus whether their assets are frozen or not and that terrorist sympathizers not be selected as commencement speakers. Furthermore, the government should actively enforce the Campus Access Act, passed in 1996, which states that universities, which fail to maintain and support ROTC programs, will become ineligible for lucrative Defense Department grants.
Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger believes Harvard may not be in compliance with the law and is "putting at risk a great deal of federal money." The university is certainly violating the spirit of the law. One way or the other, given the school's misbehavior, it is time for the government to call Harvard to account. This is especially important in this time of war, when we all must come together as Americans and show support for our brave soldiers and stand up against Islamic extremism.

Pat Collins is a second-year student at the Harvard Business School.


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