Surprise: Times Runs Cover Article in Support of R.O.T.C.

Reporter Michael Winerip questions the reasoning behind the Ivy League's 1960s, antiwar-era ban on the military's Reserve Officers Training Corp.
There was a surprise on the cover of the special Education Life section of Sunday's paper: A 3,000-word story by Michael Winerip, "The Ivy Corps and the R.O.T.C. Ban," that offered a supportive view of ROTC on Ivy League campuses.

Winerip sympathetically examined the trials faced by a Harvard student enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps program:

In a speech last year, Drew Faust, the president of Harvard, congratulated seniors who had gone the extra mile to get their R.O.T.C. training. She meant it literally, and the extra miles they had gone were the least of it.

Harvard has not had a Reserve Officers Training Corps program on campus since antiwar protests in the 1960s shut it down. The handful of Harvard students determined enough to join R.O.T.C. must travel to Boston University and across Cambridge to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their training, under a system developed by the military that allows host universities to serve nearby campuses.

For the last four school years, several times a week, Daniel West, Joe Kristol and Dom Pellegrini, all training to become United States Marine Corps officers, had to get to M.I.T. or B.U. by 5:45 a.m. It was so early the subway wasn't running yet.

"I'd be up at 4:45 to shave first," Mr. Kristol said.

Sometimes, when they had the energy and the weather wasn't too frigid, the three ran the half-hour to B.U. in the predawn darkness. Some days, Mr. Kristol drove them - he says that was the only reason he kept a car, which cost him $250 to $300 a month to park and maintain.


This is the 40th anniversary of the antiwar protests that led to the ban of R.O.T.C. at some of the nation's most elite universities - Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Tufts. And yet, the attitude on these campuses today is hardly antimilitary. There are numerous signs of genuine respect for the soldiers who serve. An editorial last May in the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, which for decades attacked R.O.T.C., praised classmates who had joined the program. "They demonstrate a commitment to service that should be admired and followed by the rest of the student body," The Crimson said. The Yale, Columbia and Brown student papers have all published editorials in the recent past calling for the return of R.O.T.C. to their campuses.

Winerip pointed out that even our liberal president thinks the Ivy ban on R.O.T.C. is a bad idea:

During a campaign visit to Columbia University, Barack Obama, a favorite on the Ivy campuses, called the R.O.T.C. ban there wrong. (R.O.T.C. students at Columbia, in Manhattan, go to Fordham University or Manhattan College, both in the Bronx, for training). "The notion that young people here at Columbia, or anywhere, in any university, aren't offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake," Mr. Obama said.

Winerip found a liberal excuse - the military's "don't ask, don't tell," policy, which excludes open homosexuals from military service - but also relayed suggestions that citing that as a reason for the continuing R.O.T.C. ban was mere window-dressing to justify knee-jerk anti-military views.