ROTC’s return under discussion

While Harvard garnered wide media attention after its March 4 announcement that it will recognize a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit for its students, Yale administrators have yet to finish discussions about the possibility of bringing the organization to campus.

Officials at Yale, Harvard and other institutions had long cited “don’t ask, don’t tell” — the military’s policy that banned homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces — as the reason why the schools would not allow units to return to their campuses. But despite that policy’s repeal in December, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the University must resolve the logistical questions that contributed to ROTC’s original departure from campus in 1969 before the program can come back.

“There will be a committee to report to the Yale College faculty by the end of the semester,” Miller said, adding that she expects to announce its membership in the “near term.”

Shortly after Yale banned ROTC from its campus in 1969, Yale’s faculty adopted four resolutions concerning the program’s relationship with the University. The resolutions stated that students would not receive Yale credit for ROTC courses, ROTC instructors would not receive faculty rank, students who dropped out in the middle of ROTC training would not automatically receive financial aid to replace the program’s funds and the University would not provide space for ROTC training.

As Yale considers ROTC’s return to campus, Miller said she will appoint a committee to review these resolutions, some or all of which may be rescinded. The financial aid policy, for example, is likely to change.

“We should be able to roll over and say yes on that,” Miller said.

Harvard’s announcement states that the university will allocate some space on its campus for ROTC training, and will assume the costs of its students’ participation in the program, such as their transportation to and from training. However, the ROTC Navy unit that Harvard approved for its students is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, and existed prior to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Levin praised Harvard’s decision in a March 3 interview, calling it “good news for the nation.”

In November 2009, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer told the News that Yale officials would want to pursue having its own ROTC unit on campus as soon as the government repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Apart from internal discussions, Yale must finalize negotiations with the military before it can establish a new ROTC program.

“We’re working hard to accelerate discussions, but the military already has many pressing priorities — particularly in view of the global situation this semester,” Lorimer said.

General Counsel Dorothy Robinson, Miller and Lorimer are spearheading the discussions with the federal government, and University President Richard Levin described these as “positive negotiations.”

Lorimer declined to comment on the details of what an ROTC program might look like if it returns to Yale, citing a need to “respect the confidentiality of the conversation” with the military.

Currently, Yale students who participate in ROTC must travel to units at other schools, such as the University of New Haven or the University of Connecticut.

David Burt contributed reporting.

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