Harvard Allows Return of ROTC

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the question of whether elite universities will allow ROTC programs to return to campus now that the don’t ask don’t tell policy has been repealed and gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military. I am happy to report that Harvard University has now agreed to recognize ROTC [HT: Harvard student Yair Rosenberg]:

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will be formally recognized by Harvard tomorrow after a 40-year hiatus, the University announced today. University President Drew G. Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus are set to sign an agreement Friday that will recognize the Naval ROTC on campus.

“Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals,” Faust said in a statement. “It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service.”

Previously, University officials have stated that they would not recognize the program until “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the military policy which banned gays from openly serving the military—was lifted. Since Congress repealed the ban in November, Faust and other officials have been in discussions with the Pentagon about bringing the program back to campus.

Apparently, Harvard ROTC participants will continue to train at MIT rather than at Harvard itself. That, however, seems to be a cost-driven decision by the Pentagon, not the result of any effort by Harvard to keep the military off-campus.

Although I have always opposed DADT, I also argued that banning ROTC and military recruiters from campus was not the right way to combat this form of anti-gay discrimination. Be that has it may, there is no good reason for universities to exclude ROTC from campus now that DADT has been repealed. Hopefully, other universities will follow Harvard’s example.