Harvard welcoming ROTC back to campus

By John Lauerman
Friday, March 4, 2011

Harvard University announced Thursday that it will bring the military's Reserve Officers Training Corps program back to campus after more than 40 years.

Harvard President Drew Faust and U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will sign an agreement giving "full and formal recognition" to a Navy ROTC program later this year, the Cambridge, Mass., university said in a statement.

Harvard's move comes nearly three months after Congress voted to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibited openly gay people from serving in the military.

The ROTC gives scholarships to military recruits who train while attending college.

The Navy, Army and Air Force pulled their programs from Harvard beginning in 1970 after students opposing the Vietnam War held protests, and the school stopped giving credit for ROTC classes.

Harvard declined to reinstate the program in more recent years, citing the military's ban on gay service members.

"Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals," Faust said in the statement. "It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service."

Recognition for ROTC will resume when the law is officially repealed, which is expected later this year, according to the statement.

Harvard will appoint a director of Naval ROTC at the university and take on financial responsibility for the costs of students' participation, the statement said. Harvard will give the program access to office space, classrooms and athletic facilities, according to the statement.

The move "is good for the university, good for the military, and good for the country," Mabus said in the statement. "Together, we have made a decision to enrich the experience open to Harvard's undergraduates, make the military better, and our nation stronger."

Harvard's ROTC students currently participate in a program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is also in Cambridge.

- Bloomberg News

© 2011 The Washington Post Company