"In a sharp departure from most elite schools, Brown University’s president, Ruth Simmons, recommended yesterday that her campus continue to deny the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps official status under a Vietnam War-era policy that eliminated faculty positions and academic credit for the program."
President Simmons recommended affirming Brown's 1969 faculty resolution not to give any academic appointments to ROTC faculty, effectively barring on-campus ROTC due to provisions of the ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964. In contrast, other Ivy colleges have created special visiting professor or "Directory of ROTC" faculty positions to meet the requirements of the law. She urged discussion with the Department of Defense about expanding "cross-institutional" ROTC opportunities for Brown students at other colleges.
A majority of the committee "recommends that the President engage in conversations with the Department of Defense to learn how Brown students might participate in Naval or Air Force ROTC programs currently unavailable to them, and to bring any proposal she might make regarding the expansion of ROTC opportunities back to the Faculty."
"Fewer places are better than the classroom for building civil-military bonds. When possible, faculty should collaborate with ROTC instructors. Imagine how an East Asian politics class might benefit from the experience of a naval officer who has been deployed throughout the region. Knowing only about the military as a fighting force, many students will be surprised by the intellectual firepower wielded by America’s men and women in uniform."
To the Editor:
As just some of the proud Brown alums who are serving or have served in the military, we were heartened to learn that the University is considering modifying its Reserve Officers’ Training Corps policy. We were especially excited when President Ruth Simmons organized the Brown Committee on ROTC as a sign that Brown, like our sister institutions, was honestly exploring the options available. We welcome this conversation and believe the time to reinstate ROTC on Brown’s campus has arrived.
As stated in the Plan for Academic Enrichment, Brown aspires to ensure all students are “offered the best education possible through opportunities to craft their own educational paths.” Without question, Brown offers an incredible range of opportunities to its undergraduates, but this alone is not what makes the University unique. Rather, Brown is distinctive because of the unparalleled freedom the University gives students to make their own decisions. We believe Brown can better live up to this aspiration by allowing students to decide for themselves whether to participate in ROTC.
We are better people because of our service in the military, and we believe Brown’s students, and indeed the commonweal, will benefit from increased opportunities for Brunonians to serve. We know from experience the challenges and opportunities for development that come with military service. We know the import of the values of selflessness, discipline and determination that military service instills. Moreover, we believe the qualities that are the hallmark of a Brown graduate — passion, intellectual curiosity, diversity of perspectives — benefit the military as an organization. Allowing ROTC to return to campus would provide additional opportunities to students and be a step toward more fully achieving Brown’s mission to “serve the community, the nation and the world.”
We understand that, like almost all decisions, there are benefits and costs to be weighed. However, after following this issue for years, we encourage the University to reinstate ROTC on campus immediately. Surely, Brown can find the right partnership with our nation’s military, the way other schools have, that affords Brunonians the highest level of opportunities while enhancing Brown’s unique curriculum. No one is more qualified than the individual students to determine whether participation in ROTC is the right decision as they chart their own educational path. Let us live up to our values and once again demonstrate our trust in the individual by allowing them to make that choice.
Doug Kechijian ’02
Charles Pollak ’03
Eric Neuman ’04
Jyri Wilska ’04
Scott Quigley ’05
Matthew Goracy ’06
Michael McBride ’06
Nicholas Morrell ’06
Evan Pettyjohn ’06
Christopher Rigali ’06
William Wilson ’06
Christopher Pollak ’08
Alexander Fye ’09
John Noh ’10
Sean Quigley ’10, former Herald opinions columnist
"Perhaps if more of us actually knew about U.S. military presences the world over and had met some of the women and men making up those presences, we would be in a better position to make the changes we want to see in our foreign policy... If we, and others like us, had more of a presence in, or exposure to, the armed forces, perhaps — dare I say it? — we would do more than passively disapprove of its actions... An ROTC presence at Brown would invite, I believe, a more dynamic discussion about the U.S. military and a more nuanced perspective from those inside and outside the program."
"President Ruth Simmons has convened a committee to review Brown’s policy towards the Reserve Officer Training Corp program, according to a University press release from mid-January."
"The Senate vote to repeal the 17-year old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gay men and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces removes a reason that many elite colleges have cited for barring the Reserve Officers Training Corps from recruiting on their campuses.
Already, the presidents of Harvard, Yale and Columbia have issued statements expressing interest in bringing back the R.O.T.C.. But it is not clear whether there will be enough student interest on those campuses to warrant its presence."