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Senator Brown Chides Harvard on ROTC

10.7.10

In recent days, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts has taken Harvard President Drew Faust to task for not welcoming ROTC programs onto the Harvard campus. (Harvard undergraduates who wish to participate in ROTC enroll in the programs at MIT.)  In a contemporary interview, Faust declared that the University would welcome ROTC back to campus, but only when a ban on openly homosexual service members is ended. 

A Boston Globe report quoted the Republican senator as saying that Harvard has its priorities "upside down." Brown contrasted Harvard's policy of not hosting an ROTC program with Faust's advocacy of the so-called Dream Act—a bill crafted to create a path to U.S. citizenship for certain illegal immigrants, including students and others who meet specific conditions, such as two years of military service. Faust recently traveled to Washington to advocate for the act, which the presidents of seven other prominent Boston-area colleges also support. A Harvard Crimson report noted that Brown has posted a petition on his campaign website, urging constituents to speak out against Harvard's prohibition of an on-campus ROTC program.

President Faust, who comes from a military family herself, has made a practice of speaking at the annual ROTC commissioning ceremonies, which occur just before Commencement.  In 2009, she had a conversation with General David H. Petraeus of U.S. Central Command, who also spoke at that year's ceremony and praised the excellence of the ROTC programs that Harvard undergraduates enroll in at MIT. (Harvard is one of eight colleges served by MIT as the local Army ROTC host institution.)  Petraeus said at the time that it was "clear that Harvard is in very good hands indeed." At Stanford, the faculty senate voted in March to reexamine that school's relationship with the program; a year ago, the New York Times published a thoughtful overview of the related issues, titled,"The ROTC Dilemma." 

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From left: Lawrence S. Bacow, Claudine Gay, and Rakesh Khurana

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