YCC to survey students on ROTC

The Yale College Council is planning to conduct a scientific survey to gauge student interest in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps’ return to Yale.

Administrators often cite the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy as the reason why there is no on-campus ROTC unit at Yale. But if the survey results suggest that Yale students are interested in the program, YCC will present its findings to Yale administrators to ask them to support the program’s return, said Pierson College YCC representative James Campbell ’13, who has spearheaded the YCC ROTC Committee assembling the survey.

“[The survey] covers an arch of issues regarding Yalies in the military,” Campbell said. “We don’t know where students fall in terms of real interest.”

Campbell, Thomas Meyer ’13, a Morse College YCC representative, and the other members of the YCC ROTC Committee are working in conjunction with the Yale Social Science Statistical Laboratory, or StatLab, to create and analyze this survey, which is still in its early stages.

Yalies in ROTC are a minority among the student body — there are only three Air Force cadets and one Army cadet at Yale. Still, Meyer said that he wants current students to know that Yale provides resources, such as money for transportation, for cadets traveling to off-campus ROTC training. In the past, organizations have failed to get the administration to support ROTC’s return because they have no data to show that students are interested, Campbell said, and previous YCC boards have not tackled the issue of ROTC returning to Yale.

Yale ROTC adviser William Whobrey declined to comment about the upcoming survey and said he is not involved in advocating the program’s return to campus.

Campbell, who supports ROTC’s return to campus, said that he knows there are students interested but he wants to have “scientific data” to back it up, adding that he had talked to some Yale students, including members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, who expressed interest in ROTC if a program existed at Yale.

University Secretary Linda Lorimer said Thursday that while she has not heard about YCC’s planned survey, she is looking forward to reviewing the results. Lorimer added that having an on-campus program might persuade high school students interested in ROTC to apply to Yale.

In an interview with the News last month, Lorimer said the military may not want to spend money to establish an ROTC program at Yale since Yalies can participate in the Army ROTC program at the University of New Haven. But Yale students’ interest in ROTC will probably influence the Pentagon’s interest in setting up a new unit, said University Spokesman Tom Conroy.

YCC President Jeff Gordon ’12 said that are no focus groups set up yet to probe student interest in ROTC’s return to campus. Gordon added that he sensed that more students are talking about ROTC’s return this year compared with last year.

“I think it’s really just about giving students the opportunity to pursue whatever their interests are,” Gordon said. “I know for many of us, service to our government — whether military or civilian — is important.”

Gordon added that he supports ROTC’s return to campus only if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that bans gays from openly serving in the military, were repealed.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said she thinks the current ROTC plan in place serves “a real role” for Yale students as it stands, but added that the program has room to grow.

“I’d like to see exploration of the expansion of that role,” Miller said.

Yale’s faculty banned ROTC on campus in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War.

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