Day: It’s time for action on ROTC

Four years ago I walked the halls of Yale as one of two Army ROTC cadets who were also students at the college. When describing my time at Yale to others, I am always careful to make that distinction — I was emphatically not a Yale ROTC cadet. This, as nearly all students at the University know, is impossible, as Yale explicitly banned ROTC from campus during the height of the Vietnam War.

Now is not the time to rehash the horrible things that Yale faculty and administrators said about the ROTC program, soldiers, or the ideals of the military at the time. Few if any of these people remain at the school, and I would venture that only a tiny minority of the students, faculty and administrators who supported this ban were doing so for the same reasons it was initiated.

That said, the cause of the ban is something that must inform how one looks at the ban’s continued existence, especially now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed and even Harvard will be permitting ROTC onto campus. This ban was not born of openness, it was not born of a desire for equal rights for homosexuals — it was born of the kind of anti-military hatred that most people of this generation cannot even begin to fathom — of spitting on returning soldiers, of draft protests, of “baby killer” chants. It is somewhat novel to consider that DADT even became the justification for the ban’s existence, given that DADT’s implementation was in fact a liberalization of the military’s policy on homosexual rights, and that policy was not at all a factor in the ban’s original creation.

It is this original issue that makes the remaining Yale veterans question the University’s laggard response to the DADT repeal. Why is this being studied and simply “discuss[ed]”? Why is the administration not supporting the idea of populating one of America’s most important institutions with the type of principled, intelligent leaders that Yale has been producing for generations? Further, why is it denying Yale students the chance to serve their country in the military without having to leave campus?

The simple fact is that one can conceive of ROTC not wanting to move any of their programs in Connecticut to Yale University, given the great unknown that surrounds it. Most of Connecticut’s cadets come from either the University of Connecticut or Sacred Heart University, and relocating in the hope of drawing Ivy grads could be a huge and costly gamble. So why does Yale wait for the other side? Why has it not taken a single action to reflect the widespread campus support for bringing back ROTC? Simply put — why must we wait for ROTC to make the decision that they want to come to Yale before we welcome them?

Here are the actions that Yale can and, frankly, must take to show that it is serious about lifting this ban. First, the Yale Corporation must issue a resolution expressly rescinding its ROTC ban, and officially opening its doors to ROTC should it choose to move to the campus. Second, the Corporation and the College should immediately announce that any Yale students who take ROTC courses at another university will begin to receive full credit for the courses as unrestricted electives towards their degree program. This is the largest impediment to establishing any larger number of cadets on campus, as no Ivy League student wants to take an additional class each semester and receive zero course credit for it. Finally, Yale must actively request, and explicitly authorize, that the Connecticut ROTC programs begin regular recruitment activities on campus — an activity still prevented by the ban on ROTC.

There can be no more excuses, no waiting for the next reason to continue this counterproductive and now irrational ban. No more waiting, no more negotiations, no more discussions. I say to President Levin: take action. End this disservice to our great nation, to Yale’s own students and reputation, and to the hundreds of Yale men and women who have given their lives in defense of this country and whose names are memorialized in Woolsey Hall. Continued delay can only lead patriotic alumni and students, and the nation at large, to assume that the original reasons for this ban’s implementation play a larger part in the mind of the administration than we had previously given them credit for, and that would be a sad conclusion indeed.

Christopher Day is a 2007 graduate of Jonathan Edwards College. He was commissioned in the United States Army as a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Connecticut ROTC program and is a combat veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Comments

  • Skeptic

    Some of the same questions remain that were germane in the 1960s…. will Yale have to create a Department of Military Science or it equivalent? Will such a department or program have its own major? Will the ROTC faculty be subject to the same selection and appointment procedures that the rest of Yale’s faculty undergo? Will ROTC courses receive academic credit? Will ROTC be more like a club sport or an academic major? Would the “return of ROTC to Yale” be more like Yale giving space to the Kaplan outfit to help out Yalies who want to prepare for some specific career move after Yale, or would it be more like Yale creating an undergraduate accounting major for students heading in that direction? (Full disclosure: I endured ROTC during my college years)

  • Ned_Flaherty

    There are 3 historical errors in U.S. Army Officer Day’s urging of an end to Yale’s ROTC ban.

    Firstly, Officer Day wrote — incorrectly — that in 1993 the military had a “policy on homosexual rights.” That is untrue. For 76 years starting in 1917, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the armed forces had no rights. Among the millions of active and reserve duty personnel across the 20th century who served with distinction but were suspected of having become gay, lesbian, or bisexual, many were illegally detained, lied to by investigators, denied access to attorneys, forced to name other soldiers for arrest, reduced in rank, denied pay, imprisoned, subjected to hard labor, and/or threatened with government seizure of their families’ homes. The DoD manuals outlining these instructions were stark and blatant. Those millions of armed forces personnel had none of the “homosexual rights” that Officer Day imagines.

    Secondly, Officer Day also wrote — again incorrectly — that DoD’s 1993 DADTDPDH (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass) policy was a “liberalization.” It was not. As implemented, the policy purported to allow gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to enlist and to serve, but then required them to lie at every juncture, in public and in private, throughout their careers. That policy commonly led to violence. In 2000, a DoD study revealed that 5% (≈72,000) of personnel had witnessed a violent, anti-gay beating during the prior 12 months. Increase that by 5% for every one of the policy’s 17 years. That soldiers routinely attacked fellow soldiers, and witnesses stayed silent isn’t surprising, because in a 2005 poll, 43% of active duty military personnel admitted to averaging 30 episodes of binge drinking annually.

    Third, Officer Day also wrote — again incorrectly — that Yale’s ROTC ban was “born of anti-military hatred.” That’s not the case. Nationwide, ROTC was banned after military leaders and President Johnson lied for years to Congress about the actual death tolls, costs, and prognoses in the (undeclared) Vietnam war. America learned the truth only when whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked 7,000 pages of classified documents to 19 newspapers.

    Officer Day wonders why ROTC bans get discussed at all. History shows excellent reasons to debate war powers, study military decisions, and keep aware of armed forces policies, training, and funding. The nation owes itself this responsible public discourse.

    Even if Officer Day didn’t know that military leaders and the president lied to Congress in the 1960s/1970s, he certainly knows that they AGAIN lied about invading Iraq, and claimed Weapons of Mass Destruction that, in fact, never existed, costing nearly one trillion U.S. dollars, and tens of thousands of lives from many nations.

    Citizens who question what’s happening are not unpatriotic, or unappreciative of those in uniform. We are just asking the responsible questions that history shows must always be asked.

  • All_American

    How many more decades will Yale spend questioning what’s happening while the rest of our nation takes action?? If Yale students support ROTC, why won’t the administration? We just let Harvard take the lead: classic. Let’s go Yale, let’s go!

  • CDay07

    @ Skeptic: I agree, those are mostly valid questions that the administration can address with ROTC AFTER taking some basic steps towards conciliation. The fact is that the ball is in Yale’s court right now, and given that the college already accepts transfer credit from pretty much any accredited insitution in the United States, it would not be a stretch to accept credit for military science classes as well. Also, recall that not only has Harvard figured out a way to make this work (and more quickly), but elite schools such as MIT and Cornell never had ROTC leave campus, and everything certainly seems to work just fine there.

    @Ned_Flaherty: You betray your ignorance of all things military by repeatedly referring to me as “Officer Day.” I am not a police officer, I am a Soldier. But I digress:

    1. ROTC was not banned “nationwide,” it was banned at a handful of elite schools, most heavily in the Ivy League. To pretend that this was some sort of grassroots nationwide movement is disingenuous at best. As I referenced earlier, even some elite level schools never saw the need to take their political opposition to the war out on the military and Soldiers forced to fight it.

    2. You state plainly that prior to DADT, homosexuals had no rights in the military. DADT granted them the right to serve, but with substantial (and many would say unfair) restrictions. That is literally the definition of a liberalization of a policy. Whether it ended at a 100% solution or not, my point is that a) it was an improvement, and b) when the policy was worse, it was not given as justification for the ban in ANY literature or public statements at the time.

    3. The stated reason for the bans continued existence (despite the strange progression I outline of moving from an “anti war” ban to a “pro gay rights” ban) was DADT. If the Administration felt that the ban was still in place because of lies on the part of a President, Secretary of State, or members of Congress, it should have said so. It did not, and clung specifically to the DADT justification. That leaves the ban as it exists completely unfounded. Whether or not YOU, sir, think it should be banned because people in suits misled the American public is entirely immaterial to the question at hand. That said, I would ask whether it would make more sense to ban the civilians who make war policy and created DADT then to take it out on the men and women who are forced to carry out those policies whether they agree or not.

    Even Senator John Kerry, vocal critic of both the Iraq War and DADT, is urging Yale to open its doors to ROTC. I wonder why President Levin is more eager to open Yale to a dictatorship (China) then to its own nation’s military.

  • 201Y1

    @Ned_Flaherty: There’s an appropriate expression here, I believe: PWNED.

  • USAF_Capt

    @Soldier Day
    I was graduated from Yale in 2003, and was commissioned through OTS in 2004.
    I’ve spent the last 7 years receiving Professional Military “Education.”
    To even consider granting Yale College course credit for the kind of third-rate nonsense that passes for education in the military is offensive. Why would we want to dillute Yale’s already weakened curriculum with the likes of “The Four Kinds of Leaders: Which one should you be?”, or whatever ridiculous “death by PowerPoint” training DoD has decided to waste our time with?
    ROTC is unnecessary; it’s a waste of time and money.
    If it must come back to campus, please just bring it back as a club.
    NO COURSE CREDIT!

  • The Anti-Yale

    “That said, the cause of the ban . . . was not born of a desire for equal rights for homosexuals — it was born of the kind of anti-military hatred that most people of this generation cannot even begin to fathom — of spitting on returning soldiers, of draft protests, of ‘baby killer’ chants ”

    It was not “anti-military hatred” it was hatred of official lies, and soldeiers going to their deaths and sending peasant women and children to their deaths, for the GLORY OF GOVERNMENT LIES.

    There WERE baby-killers in our military. Our soldiers WERE fighting a war whose raison d’etre was based on twistede truths from the Johnson White House and the Tonkin Gulf Resolutionh on down.

    “End this disservice to our great nation.”

    Jingoistic nonsense.

    The DISSERVICE to our nation was failure to believe the antiwar protestors.

    The Viet Nam War was based on government deception as was Gulf War II.

  • CDay07

    @Airman USAF_Capt (since we’re using odd forms of address today):

    I completely agree that most DoD training is useless drivel. I also agree that ROTC instruction is not generally on the same level of academic difficulty as most Yale courses. However, I can say emphatically that there is a substantial difference between ROTC courses and the powerpoint courses you reference. I for one learned a lot in ROTC, substantially more than in some civilian college classes, and that the course does achieve the standard required of any other accredited course at a US insitute of higher learning. Since only one of the two of us has taken ROTC courses, I hope you will grant this point.

    The rationale Yale uses to not accept Military Science course credit is not lack of academic rigor, it is their policy of only awarding academic credit to courses taken at other schools that have an equivalent at Yale (i.e. English 101 = English 101). This is, of course, circular logic in the case of military science, in that it bans ROTC then uses its standard justification for preventing students from receiving credit for taking it at another school.

    Having transferred credit from a community college to Yale, I can assure you that the Microeconomics class taught by a former-stockbroker adjunct professor at the community college was nowhere near as demanding as one taught by Robert Schiller at Yale. How does the college account for this difference? They don’t allow transfer of grades, just credits. As such, my Yale GPA is not inflated by my community college course credits. I think that such a policy would be fair and in keeping with Yale’s traditional academic policies if applied in this case.

    Finally, I once again call your attention to schools like MIT, who have been awarding course credit for ROTC for years with absolutely zero negative impact on their academic standards or national reputation.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “of draft protests, of “baby killer” chants”

    How naive your words sound to those of us who lived through Mi Lai, which makes Abu Gharib look like a Sunday School.

    PK

  • The Anti-Yale

  • CDay07

    @The Anti-Yale:

    I deliberately ignored your previous comment because there is no sense in debating with a zealot.

    However, I do appreciate you calling ME naive when you speak of war, for it betrays your prejudice. You did not live through My Lai (the correct spelling), you lived through television reports on the subject. I have been to war twice; you have been to your living room. As such, I will not stoop to your level on the subject, despite your repeated ad hominem attacks.

  • Ned_Flaherty

    1. If Officer Day would disclose his rank and duty status, then people could address him closer to the format that he prefers (e.g., “ready reserve U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Day”). Until then, the public can work only with what it has: Officer Day.

    2. Day — incorrectly — still calls the dramatically increased violence under the “Don’t-Ask/Tell/Pursue/Harass” policy “an improvement” (!) under which gay, lesbian, and bisexual service personnel were required to lie about their identities (also a reason for discharge) after which many suffered violence from their fellow soldiers. So no, given the required lying and the approved violence, DADTDPDH was not the “improvement” that Day imagines.

    3. Day argues — illogically — that DADTDPDH wasn’t mentioned when ROTC was first banned. Of course it wasn’t mentioned; campuses began moving to ban ROTC in the 1960s, several decades before DADTDPDH even existed. But once the law’s unjustness became apparent upon its enactment in 1993, it was often mentioned in the subsequent (yet infrequent) ROTC debates.

    4. Day — incorrectly — calls Yale’s ROTC ban “unfounded” just because some of the reasons behind it may have changed in priority. That’s false reasoning. Changes in priority do not make a reason illogical, or make a ban unjust.

    5. Day asks whether it’s better for a university to “ban the civilians who make war policy and created DADT then [sic] to take it out on the men and women who are forced to carry out those policies whether they agree or not.” But that either-this/or-that phrasing is illogical. The issue is not merely whether Yale should “ban Congress” versus “punish military students.” The issue is whether Yale should (a) betray itself via a program that violates its principles, or (b) remain true to itself and reject optional programs that violate its principles.

    6. At every school, only one question remains now: “Should ROTC exist on each campus, and why/why not, and when, and under what conditions?” Answering that question enables reviews of all the relevant issues: equal treatment of personnel, truthfulness with the public, pro-war/anti-war philosophy, educational/institutional standards, ROTC’s role in all of these, and more.

    7. Officer Day wants to end the ROTC ban now, and postpone discussing the issues it raises until later. His cart-before-horse approach is premature, illogical and inefficient, and — ironically — the kind of flawed thinking that ROTC training is supposed to fix. What’s most logical is to resolve the issues first, and then decide whether, when, and how the ban should be kept, changed, or ended.

  • The Anti-Yale

    CDay07:

    Sorry, not a zealot, just a dinosaur from the 60’s.

    I always appreciate having my spelling emended. Thank you.

    Ad hominem attacks? That’s hyperbole. Yes, I appeal to emotion. No, I do not attack personal character.

    As for being an armchair combatant, I consider the war to have come to American soil (as I hypothesize you would NOT ) on May 4, 1970 in Ohio with the murder of four children by National Guardsmen. I was there and spent ten years of my life involved in the aftermath.

    Thank you for serving our country. I hope it was not under the cloud of jingoistic lies in Viet Nam of Gulf II.

    PK

  • harbinger

    So PK is still trapped in the 60’s and wears his liberal heart on his sleeve. At least he’s honest about his political viewpoint, clouded and misguided as it is. I do take offense when you say you’ve been to war however. As one who served from the end of the Vietnam era through Gulf II, I don’t consider the mere chance you happened to be at Kent State an example that you’ve “been at war”. Considering your extreme leftist viewpoint on most anything, I doubt we could ever agree on anything. But please don’t belittle anyone’s service to this nation with political grandstanding. They actually served you and their fellow citizens, for both Democrat and Republican administrations. What have you done except sit on the sidelines and throw 60’s catchphrases around and harp constantly about wornout political viewpoints. It’s time to move past Kent State and the obvious psychological scars the era left on you.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I have moved past it. However, it is misguided to claim that those of us stateside who were protesting the innocent slaughter of children by an arm of the military were not involved in “war”. Even we bystanders certainly were within shooting distance that May 4th in Ohio.

    J. Edgar Hoover tapped telephones at that university l after the shooting. I obtained my FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act and discovered from names blacked-out on the report that someone (presumably a student) was following me and reporting on my activities at rallies.

    In fact, our refusal to allow those four students to be painted as hippie anti-war protestors, may have helped you and your comrads in Viet Nam who were in range of fire, return stateside sooner, rather than later. As I recall, the war ended soon thereafter.

  • harbinger

    The only thing you helped was to destroy the morale of the troops, and caused needless deaths of friends of mine and the men under me. You call me misguided for dismissing your claims that you were in a shooting war? Try living it every day while knowing there was a whole segment of the population safe at home, supporting the very people trying to kill you. How nice you got your FBI file, it must fuel the fire within while you fight from the barricades. Yes, you and yours did help some of us get home sooner, unfortunately it was in a metal box. Keep telling yourself you were a hero of the proletariat, it seems you ‘ve been living off those glory days. But hopefully you aren’t doing any such favors for our troops overseas today, I don’t know if they could survive the kindness.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I don’t respond to nastiness.

    Apparently you were duped by the government from Johnson and MacNamara-on-down into believing you were fighting a legitimate war.

    The protesters thought otherwise and even MacNamara admitted as much at age 89 in his memoire and interviews.

    I am sorry if you need to believe the lies.

    I didn’t and I don’t, no matter how many unpleasant names you call those of us who stateside fought the war to bring you home.

  • harbinger

    Apparently you do respond to “nastiness”. You believe what you will based on your political bias.
    MacNamara isn’t the divine font of all that is good and true in regards to the Vietnam Era. And when was the last time we had a “legitimate” war? I love how remf academics pontificate on when killing another human being is legitimate.The simple fact is you didn’t “fight the war” to bring us home, you protested in support of a foriegn political ideology. It’s pointless to debate this further. You’re still fighting the Vietnam War, and apparently it was the high point of your life. If nothing else, at least say a prayer for the young men and women who died while you sat safely at home. Good day to you.

  • 201Y1

    Yeah, PK, don’t try to pretend like you know anything about the experiences these guys have had, or about war. Kent State, I’m sure, was horrible in many ways–but like usual, you’re trying waayyy too hard to give yourself credibility when you should just step aside. Standing in range of guns pointed at protestors is very different from Vietnam or Iraq.