The University has taken another step toward inviting the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) back to campus.
The Faculty Committee on ROTC released a report Thursday recommending that Yale College amend the four resolutions approved by the faculty in 1969, which led to the discontinuation of ROTC at Yale. At the May 5 faculty meeting, the faculty will vote on a new set of resolutions, which would remove many obstacles keeping ROTC from campus.
“If these resolutions are adopted following the discussion of the faculty, then it clears the way,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said, adding that she hopes that ROTC will soon return to campus.
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The first new resolution would require all ROTC courses to count as enrollment credits — to be listed on the transcript and perhaps even graded, but unable to count towards fulfilling major or degree requirements. Each course would have to be approved by the Course of Study Committee and the faculty in order to count towards a degree. The current regulation passed in 1969 mandates that any military training be given “extracurricular status without academic credit.”
The other three new resolutions call for providing academic rank to ROTC instructors based on their credentials, granting need-based financial aid to students who withdraw from a Yale ROTC program and alloting funds for administrative services, necessary facilities and other program costs should an ROTC program come to campus.
While the resolutions of 1969 were approved in the midst of the Vietnam War, faculty concerns regarding Yale’s ROTC programs were not related to the war, said Yale historian Gaddis Smith ’54 GRD ’61, who voted to pass the resolutions at the time. Smith said the faculty’s vote stemmed from a long-standing debate over the credit awarded to students in ROTC courses, and were not intended to eliminate ROTC altogether. But the Army and Navy units chose not to continue under the new terms and left Yale soon after, he said.
Gary Haller, chair of the Faculty Committee on ROTC, said his committee did not analyze which ROTC courses are deserving of Yale course credit because the decision falls under the purview of the Course of Study Committee. Miller said the Course of Study Committee would inspect each course to examine whether it fit Yale’s standards, adding that she could not speculate about how many ROTC courses the committee would approve.
“We need to really look carefully at the content of the courses,” she said. “There are courses that come by the Course of Study Committee [now] that are sent back for changes or ultimately not approved for credit.”
Four of Yale’s peer institutions now offer ROTC programs — Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania. Of these, only Cornell, Penn and MIT offer “academic credit” for at least one ROTC course, according to the faculty report, and Cornell grants academic credit for most of its ROTC courses.
James Campbell ’13, who chairs the Yale College Council’s Committee on ROTC, said he hopes some ROTC courses are deemed worthy of credit towards a Yale degree. Many students’ choices about whether to join ROTC would depend on how many ROTC courses could count their Yale degree, he added.
The faculty report cited a November YCC survey by Campbell’s committee, which found that almost 70 percent of undergraduate respondents supported the return of ROTC after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prohibits gay and lesbian members of the armed forces from serving openly. The survey also found that 16.5 percent would still oppose the formation of an ROTC program even if “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” were repealed.
But Gabriel Murchison ’14, along with LGBTQ Co-op representatives Amalia Skilton ’13 and Ryan Mendias ’13, met with the faculty committee earlier this month to voice concerns that the military still discriminates against transgender and gender non-conforming people, even after Congress repealed DADT in December. Murchison said that welcoming ROTC back to campus would then violate Yale’s Equal Opportunity Statement. Despite such concerns, Miller said she still supports ROTC’s return because the military is moving in a “positive direction.”
“[The military has] taken the first step, and we look forward to further evolution,” Miller said.
Murchison called Miller’s response “disingenuous” because it draws too great a connection between gay and lesbian issues and transgender issues.
When Miller met with military officials earlier this semester, she said, they made clear to her that the program would need to attract a “robust” number of students to be a worthwhile venture. She said she hopes an ROTC program at Yale could attract students from other colleges around Connecticut in addition to students at Yale.
An ROTC program at Yale could attract applicants who would not have otherwise applied to the University, said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel, adding that he supports the committee’s proposal to meet financial need of students who withdraw from ROTC.
While YCC has already attempted to gauge the student body’s support and interest in ROTC, Haller’s faculty report stated that there has not yet been enough discussion among faculty to determine a consensus among them. Three professors interviewed said they had not yet seriously considered the new resolutions, and had not formed a position on them.
But Smith said he disagrees with the resolution that would give academic ranks to military officials who teach ROTC courses.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Smith said. “Maybe we should give ranks to coaches. [Military officials] can be wonderful men and women, but they are not people prepared for academic rank.”
Since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, several Ivy League institutions have announced that they are willing to host ROTC programs. Harvard University agreed to re-establish a Naval ROTC program March 4, and Columbia University’s faculty voted April 1 to welcome ROTC to their campus.