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ROTC debate continues at Brown University

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Manning Chapel, Brown University, Span Magazine, US GovAt Brown University, the only remaining Ivy League institution that has yet to welcome ROTC back to its campus, students are taking to the campus newspaper to discuss the prospect of ROTC at Brown. As we noted in October, the editorial board of the student paper, the Brown Daily Herald, has for the past two years issued statements calling for the reinstatement of the program on campus, only to be met by opposition from the campus administration. In a recent back-and-forth, two more students weigh in—one arguing for the program’s return, and the other arguing against it.

Dorothy Lutz, who favors ROTC’s return to Brown, writes:

In 2011, then-President Ruth Simmons upheld the 1972 decision to ban the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program on campus. I urge President Christina Paxson to reconsider this decision and re-establish ROTC at Brown. The University’s ban on ROTC denies students the freedom to explore an important career in public service, cultivates a counterproductive anti-military bias on campus and exacerbates the worrying rift between the U.S. military and civilian society.

To begin, the clearest recognizable majority of current students and alums support Brown’s greater involvement with the ROTC Program. According to a 2011 Herald poll, the largest plurality of students, at about 43 percent, favored or somewhat favored Brown’s increased support for the ROTC Program, whereas 13 percent held no opinion. A minority, about 23 percent, opposed.

Second, alums’ favor for the program is clear. The Committee on ROTC, convened in 2011 by Simmons to investigate the debate, polled alums. Seventy-seven percent of alums were either in favor or strongly in favor of bringing the ROTC program back.

Lastly, our peer institutions across the Ivy League have all invited ROTC units back on campus, due largely to the military’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Brown is currently the only Ivy League institution that does not field an on-campus ROTC unit. Students, alums and our peer institutions all support ROTC programs because they add significant diversity to communities, combat anti-military bias on campus and prepare students for valuable careers in public service through the U.S. Armed Forces. . . .

By rejecting ROTC on campus, we here at Brown have the luxury of “tuning out.” We tune out the fact that . . . only .75 percent of Americans shoulder the burden of military service. We tune out to the fact that Congress has the lowest number of military veterans since the United States began collecting data on veteran service in government after World War II. While Mika [Zacks] and I spar over the newspaper pages of an elite institution, we “tune out” the fact that war is a reality of modern life and push the necessary public service that is joining the U.S. military onto others.

Read the entire exchange over at the Brown Daily Herald.