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More on ROTC and the Ivies

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Continuing our recent coverage of ROTC’s return to the Ivies, here are two more articles that discuss the trend. First, the Brown Daily Herald notes that Brown University, currently the only Ivy League institution that has not allowed ROTC to return to its campus, is considering other ways to serve and attract students interested in the military–without welcoming the ROTC program itself back:

In light of fluctuations in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and student veteran enrollment numbers  in recent years, University administrators said they are looking for new ways to increase the visibility of opportunities to serve for current and prospective students.

The Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs plays the primary role in this advocacy. The office, established in spring 2012 at the Corporation’s instruction, focuses on supporting students who are involved or would like to become involved with the military. The office is also charged with facilitating student participation in ROTC at other schools in Rhode Island.

The University originally banned ROTC on campus in 1972 during the Vietnam War. Since then, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to revive the program. Most recently, after a push by a group of students to reinstate ROTC, former President Ruth Simmons recommended in October 2011 that the University maintain its ROTC ban on campus. Students are able to participate in nearby ROTC programs through cross-institutional partnerships. Army ROTC is available at Providence College and Bryant University, and the closest Navy and Air Force ROTC programs are in the Boston area..

And writing for the Yale Daily News, Dan Stein profiles some of the cadets participating in Yale’s ROTC program, which came back to campus this fall:

This fall marks the first time since 1972 that an ROTC program has existed on Yale’s campus, after a 1970 decision to end the program caused members of the class of 1972 to be the last Yale ROTC students until this year. Twelve Yale students have been assigned the rank of Midshipman Fourth Class, forming the first Naval ROTC platoon at Yale since the program left the University in the wake of Vietnam War protests, and eight Yalies have been assigned the rank of Cadet Fourth Class, joining 30 other cadets from six other universities in Connecticut to form Air Force ROTC Detachment 009, which is based at Yale.

While an Army ROTC unit has not yet returned to campus, these midshipmen and cadets share a unique mission: to discover whether Yale and ROTC can coexist — whether these two institutions are functionally and intellectually compatible — or whether after 40 years Yale and the U.S. military have drifted apart from one another.

Quoting what Provost Peter Salovey told him, [freshman Josh] Clapper said he and the other Yale cadets must live “two lives at once.” […]

Thursday is uniform day. Last Thursday in a classroom on the fourth floor of 55 Whitney Avenue, freshmen Air Force cadets in USAF 101, “Foundations of the Air Force,” were both wearing uniforms and talking about them.

“Who do we wear our uniforms for?” Air Force Captain Bai Zhu asked her cadets in class last Thursday. She told her cadets that she believes they wear uniforms for the American people, the people that they defend.

Clad in their matching light blue shirts, dark blue pants and nametags, the cadets focused on proper grooming standards and how to maintain the military uniform.

“It’s great for somebody to be able to stop us and learn about the military,” Clapper said. Multiple midshipmen and cadets mentioned being stopped by people on the street on Thursdays when both Naval and Air Force students are required to be in uniform and “thanked for their service,” which they said they found funny or uncomfortable since they have not truly “served” yet.

Read the whole thing here.