DADT repeal does not change University's ROTC policy
The University has not made any changes to its recognition of the campus ROTC program despite decisions by several of its peer institutions to reinstate official college-sponsored corps.
Several Ivy League universities have reconsidered their relationships to their ROTC programs in the wake of the December repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The 17-year-old policy forbade the military from asking men and women serving in the military about their sexual orientation and forbade gays, lesbians and bisexuals from revealing their sexual orientations.
After the elimination of the policy, which many colleges viewed as discriminatory, several universities have re-evaluated the ROTC program, which operates units at more than 300 campuses nationwide.
Harvard, Columbia and Yale have all approved the reinstatement of official programs allowing students to receive course credit for participating in ROTC. Brown also formed a committee exploring the possibility of restoring ROTC, according to The Brown Daily Herald. Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn all had on-campus ROTC programs at the time that DADT was repealed.
Still, Princeton has stood by its 1972 agreement with the Army allowing the Princeton Army ROTC to operate as an outside organization not officially endorsed by the University.
Under the current agreement, Princeton’s Army ROTC has access to resources such as classrooms, an administrative office, office equipment and storage space, but it is considered an “outside organization” and thus has the status of an extracurricular activity.
“The reason that ROTC is considered an outside organization is because it is an outside organization: The ROTC program is sponsored, operated and controlled by the U.S. Army, not by the University,” University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee ’69 said in a letter to The Daily Princetonian in October.
However, Lt. Col. John Stark, lecturer in history and the outgoing director for Princeton Army ROTC, noted in 2009 that DADT was a major consideration in Princeton’s decision to maintain ROTC’s status as an outside organization.
“As long as this policy is in place, they will not even discuss the possibility of accreditation,” he said to The Dartmouth. “[In 2008], I sought to achieve academic credit, but now I am going with the status quo until the national policy has been changed.”
Derek Grego ’12, a Wilson School major and cadet in the Tiger Battalion of Princeton ROTC, emphasized the connection between the ROTC program and the University’s unofficial motto, “In the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”
“I cannot speak to University policy, but I can say that the removal of what has been considered a barrier to ROTC’s acceptance on campus should be welcomed by all parties as a sign of strengthening relations between the military and academic establishments,” he said.
But the University administration does not appear to have been influenced by the DADT repeal and has yet to make any move toward formally recognizing the program as a University-endorsed organization.
“The only change I anticipate is the opportunity for gay students to join ROTC,” President Shirley Tilghman said in an email to The Daily Princetonian in January.
Neither Stark nor Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey could be reached for comment over the weekend.
All of the Ivy League schools but Cornell banned ROTC from their campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s due to prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment. Cornell did not ban its three ROTC chapters, as it would have lost all public funding as a land-grant institution had it done so.
An editorial in the ‘Prince’ in November 1971 praised the faculty for disapproving of a committee recommendation that ROTC be retained as an extracurricular, saying, “A program whose function is to train students in warfare techniques is wholly inappropriate to the humanistic values on which this institution is based.”
Many of the Ivy League schools continued the ban in the ’90s while promoting the argument that DADT was prejudicial against homosexual students. Princeton’s faculty also voted to ban ROTC from Princeton in 1993 due to the discriminatory nature of DADT, though the Board of Trustees did not approve the faculty resolution.
Until the DADT repeal, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania were the only institutions that offered credit for certain military classes offered by ROTC. Cornell is also the only Ivy League school to offer all three major ROTC branches: Army, Navy and Air Force.
At Penn, a Navy ROTC midshipman — a rank equivalent to an Army cadet — can enroll in ROTC courses offered at nearby Temple University and Drexel University.
Students at Brown have the option of joining Providence College’s ROTC programs.