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Why isn’t ROTC on more elite campuses? Take Two

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Paul Pillar at the National Interest makes some similar points to Gary and I in his reaction to Diane Mazur’s op-ed.

Commenter Segal (likely Michael Segal of the Advocates for ROTC) also offers some historical perspective on the ROTC ban at the Yale Daily News. His comment is worth posting in full:

The problem with the argument made in the NYT op-ed and repeated here is that the colleges knowingly created conditions under which ROTC could not remain on campus legally. By canceling faculty appointments and course listings for ROTC, the universities [were] violating provisions in the ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964 (http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/10C103.txt). That law specifies that no ROTC unit may be “maintained at an institution unless the senior commissioned officer of the armed force concerned who is assigned to the program at that institution is given the academic rank of professor… and the institution adopts, as a part of its curriculum, a four-year course of military instruction … which the Secretary of the military department concerned prescribes and conducts”.

Accounts at the time such as those by the head of Naval ROTC at Harvard (http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1969/2/7/naval-rotc-hinges-upon-professorship-pnaval/) and the president of Harvard (http://www.advocatesforrotc.org/harvard/pusey1969.html) make it clear that those in charge understood that violating the terms of the ROTC law meant getting rid of ROTC.

Universities such as MIT, Princeton and Cornell have found ways to deal with the law in ways that fit with academic norms. More details are in the numerous articles cited on the web site of Advocates for ROTC (www.advocatesforrotc.org) and summarized in a criticism of the NYT op-ed at http://blog.american.com/?p=21552.

Presumably the NYT will print letters clarifying the situation.

Image from Army Cadet Command.

AEI