October 20th, 2011 | University

Brown debates ROTC

ROTC will return to campus next fall, after being absent for 54 years.
ROTC will return to campus next fall, after being absent for 54 years. Photo by Tomas Albergo.

Brown University students looking to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps may now have more institutional support for their efforts.

In 1969, a series of Brown faculty resolutions rejected the academic merit of ROTC military science departments, preventing students from earning Brown credit for ROTC courses. These resolutions caused both the Air Force and the Navy to eventually discontinue their programs at Brown.

Yet new dialogue shows that the Brown of today is more willing to support students interested in ROTC.

In an official response released Oct. 19, Brown President Ruth J. Simmons addressed the recommendations made by Brown’s Committee on the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which was established in to address the future of ROTC on campus. The Committee, which released its official report earlier this semester, recommended that Brown maintain its existing cross-institutional Army ROTC program with nearby Providence College, working with the Department of Defense to find opportunities for students interested in Naval and Air Force ROTC programs. Yet the Committee’s report did not recommend creating an on-campus ROTC unit. In fact, the Committee itself was divided as to whether ROTC opportunities should expand in any capacity. Some Committee members expressed concern that further support for ROTC would contradict the University’s anti-discrimination policy. Transgender individuals, while protected under Brown’s policy, are currently ineligible for military service under federal law.

Simmons’ response tackled the issues raised by the Committee, addressing their specific recommendations.

“I believe that we should proceed to explore the possibilities for Brown students to participate in cross-institutional Naval or Air Force ROTC programs housed on other campuses,” Simmons wrote. “In addition, we should commit to helping to arouse greater national attention to the discrimination of the military and others against transgender individuals.”

Sill, according to the Brown Daily Herald, Simmons’ “recommendations simply uphold the 1969 resolution that ROTC remain an extra-curricular program,” and may not end debate over ROTC, for it “neither rejects nor embraces military involvement” at colleges and universities.

Starting in the fall of 2012, Yale will host both AFROTC and NROTC units on campus. The programs intend to draw students from across Connecticut.