Though his desire to serve through ROTC is noble and his reading of the student body’s desire to participate accurate, Rob Michel’s ’14 column (“Bring back ROTC,” Oct. 26) completely misses the point as to why Yale doesn’t have ROTC.
Though the pervasive myth regarding ROTC is that we Ivies barred it during the Vietnam War and that the ban continues due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” that isn’t the case at all. We didn’t ban ROTC; ROTC left us. As Diane Mazur, a former Air Force officer and law school professor, wrote in the New York Times on Oct. 24, the former is merely a convenient myth that fits the public perception of the Ivies as a pinko-collectivist breeding ground.
The story often goes that Harvard “expelled” ROTC in 1969. But this was not the case; ROTC did not meet the academic and professorship requirements of academic courses, so Harvard relegated ROTC to an extracurricular. The ROTC walked. The same process happened at several other Ivies, including Yale. Whatever student protests or faculty resolutions may have opposed ROTC’s presence over the years, it has never been banned.
In fact, Yale would be making a mistake to ban ROTC. Because of the Solomon Amendment of 1994, any college that bars ROTC or military recruitment from a campus is disqualified from receiving any form of federal financing — and, as evident in funds such as the $136.5 million Yale received for research through the stimulus bill, this is clearly not the case.
As comfortable as it may be to insist we Ivies are standing up for principle and for the military to insist it was unjustly banned, it’s time to stop kidding ourselves.
The writer is a freshman in Morse College.