The New York Times carries good tidings from Cambridge:
Harvard announced on Wednesday that it would open a campus office for the Army R.O.T.C. later this year, a move the Army believes will lead to greater participation in the program by Harvard undergraduates…
Under its agreement with the Army, Harvard will provide office space for the local R.O.T.C. commander to conduct classes and counseling sessions with cadets. It will also make classrooms and athletic facilities available for training. And it will assume financial responsibility for administrative costs associated with the program. Those costs were covered by a Harvard alumni group since the R.O.T.C. left the campus.
Since the expulsion of ROTC from Harvard’s campus during the height of the Vietnam War, students hoping to serve their country after graduation have had to make the arduous trek to MIT for their training. This state of affairs continued after Vietnam, with Harvard publicly conditioning the return of ROTC on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” keeping the organization off-campus and unrecognized by the university.
More recently, however, Harvard’s last two presidents, Lawrence Summers and Drew Faust (herself a distinguished Civil War historian), have slowly worked toward rapprochement with ROTC. And when DADT was repealed in December 2010, Faust followed through on her pledge to invite the military to return, beginning with Navy ROTC. Concurring with her decision, The Harvard Crimson Editorial Board wrote a ringing endorsement for ROTC’s reinstatement:
Just as DADT represented an outdated prejudice directed toward gay American citizens, the absence of ROTC now stands as a relic of an outdated bias against the American armed forces…
We welcome the perspective of the military to Harvard’s marketplace of ideas, and believe that there can be no better context for an ROTC education than within Harvard’s curriculum and values. It is here that the complexities of moral philosophy, modern politics, and military instruction can be put into dialogue in the grand humanistic tradition of America’s greatest university. Students and teachers of all disciplines and political persuasions challenge and edify each other, and we are confident that the fruits of their considered conversations will redound to the benefit of our nation.
Via Meadia could not agree more. America’s great universities and our military need one another. The universities were wrong to drive ROTC off campus in a fit of juvenile and ill-considered rage 40 years ago. They were wrong to shift the grounds of their boycott to DADT. The estrangement has hurt elite universities and those who study there much more than it has hurt the military — though both sides have suffered.
Vain and empty posturing by narcissistic intellectuals is not the most attractive feature of American campus life today. Thank goodness Harvard is turning down the volume just a little bit.