The Return of ROTC to Elite Universities

The LA Times has an article describing how ROTC programs have returned to many elite universities in the wake of the abolition of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy:

Helped by the recession, more active recruiting and a sea change in student perceptions of the military, enrollment in ROTC programs on college campuses is booming.

Even with ongoing U.S. involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya, participation in the program has surged 27% over the last four years — to 56,757 men and women, according to the Defense Department. The military boosted the number of ROTC scholarships to help expand the wartime officer corps, and the recession made the offers attractive to students.

Today’s college students, who never faced a military draft and whose childhood memories include the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are more receptive than their parents’ generation to seeing fellow students in uniform. Returning veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now enrolled in college also create a more sympathetic, and familiar, image of the military.

In another sign of the changing times, the congressional rescinding last year of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military has recently led Stanford, Harvard and several other elite universities to take steps to welcome the ROTC back to their campuses for the first time in 40 years.

On-campus military training still raises hackles for some. Yet even critics acknowledge that most current college students are willing to accept the ROTC.

I previously wrote about the return of ROTC here and here. Although I thought that DADT was a shortsighted and unjust policy, 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 as it may, the return of ROTC to schools that had previously banned it is a positive development.