When the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps returns to campus next fall, Navy officials hope that their recent efforts to engage students outside the classroom make the program feel more “at home.”
U.S. Navy Vice Admiral John Richardson, Yale’s Navy ROTC sponsor and commander of U.S. Submarine Forces, visited campus last Thursday to talk with both Eli cadets and noncadets and strengthen the Navy’s relationship with the Yale community. At the same time, the Navy has also reached out to both the Yale Sailing Team and the Yale Aviation Society to help the ROTC program integrate into Yale’s culture and access training equipment. Capt. Ron Harrell, who advises Yale administrators on ROTC, said that he thinks engaging with the community will help ROTC return to the prominent position it once held on campus.
“When the first class of freshman cadets arrives, I want to be sure that it seems that the program already feels established on campus, since there won’t be a lot of older midshipmen in the battalion,” Harrell said. “I believe all these connections, in a little over five months, shows Yale’s commitment and they have already become the leader in the Ivy League’s ROTC.”
Yale sailing coach Zachary Leonard said that the Navy has reached out to him to discuss a possible relationship in which Naval ROTC would use some of Yale Sailing’s facilities and equipment to train cadets. He said he expected that Yale’s facilities and equipment could serve the Navy well, but he added that discussions regarding a potential partnership are still in their nascent stages.
The Navy has also reached out to the Yale Aviation Society, according to Ty Kamp ’98, who helps coordinate the society’s events. Kamp said she supports a partnership with ROTC because of the long history of military aviation at Yale.
“As American military aviation really had its start at Yale with the group that was to become Yale Aviation,” said Kamp. “we are uniquely positioned to offer flight training and ground instruction to cadets and other interested parties.”
Andrew Hendricks ’14, who travels to the University of Connecticut once per week as the only Air Force ROTC cadet at Yale, said partnerships between ROTC and the rest of the Yale community would help students better understand how the military works. Hendricks said partnerships between the military and Yale organizations would especially aid ROTC programs as attempt to grow in their first few years.
“A lot of these student groups have a lot of common with Navy ROTC and Air Force ROTC,” said Hendricks. “From a recruiting standpoint, it helps the military find kids who like to sail or fly planes, and let’s them know they can make a great career out of it.”
There are currently no undergraduates at Yale who participate in Naval ROTC programs off campus.
Harrell said he has unofficially been working with two students, Phil Kaplan ’12 and Alexa Monti ’12, to help the Navy better understand the University by soliciting student input and gauging interest on campus.
Monti, who described her role as creating dialogue between students and ROTC administrators, said it is important that ROTC becomes a part of Yale’s academic and social communities.
“It starts from the lowest levels that form military-civil relations,” she said. “It would be great to see students and cadets studying right next to each other.”
Monti said naval officials encouraged her to invite students who expressed interest in speaking with military officials and learning about the Navy to a roundtable discussion with Richardson at the Provost’s Office on Thursday. Students in attendance included undergraduates, ROTC cadets and graduate student veterans.
Currently, ROTC is also offered at Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. Next fall a program will also begin at Harvard.