More than four decades after Columbia University, the heart of the Vietnam-era student movement, banned R.O.T.C. from campus in a moment of 1960s antimilitary rage, the University Senate voted overwhelmingly on Friday to support efforts to bring the group back.
The vote — 51 to 17, with 1 abstention — came in support of a Senate resolution to “explore mutually beneficial relationships with the armed forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.” It followed a series of sometimes venomous campus meetings and found its impetus in President Obama’s signing three months ago of a bill to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality...
In early March, officials at Harvard announced that they would formally recognize the Naval R.O.T.C. 40 years after the program was banned. Since the signing of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal law, other universities have publicly expressed a similar interest in bringing back the armed forces officers’ group, which has units at more than 300 campuses nationwide.
For reasons both of history and institutional character, however, none has the importance of Columbia, which was home to a particularly vigorous chapter of Students for a Democratic Society — some of whose most militant members helped to form the left-wing radical group the Weathermen...
Professor Applegate said: “This is a culmination of something going back several years. Back in the ’60s, students kicked R.O.T.C. off campus. But in 2011, students brought them back.”
Brown seems to be a holdout:
She noted that the University will not need to offer academic credit for ROTC classes. When the University initially eliminated the program in 1969, one of the main concerns was that ROTC classes could bypass the University accreditation process...
Bergeron also discussed her attendance at the Ivy Plus conference — a consortium of universities, including members of the Ivy League as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Stanford — where deans from the universities discussed their respective plans to offer or not offer ROTC programs.
Of those universities, MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton and Penn already offer ROTC programs. Harvard announced its intention to reinstate its ROTC program earlier this month, and Bergeron said it looks likely that Columbia, Yale and Stanford will do the same. If this were the case, Brown would be the only Ivy League university not to have a ROTC program on campus.
ROTC isn't back yet, but the trajectory seems to be right. And if someday soon it turns out my cynicism was unwarranted, I will never have been so happy to be wrong.