HPC Report on ROTC at Harvard

Is the Military Out of Place In a Liberal Arts Institution?

(The following are excerpts from the HPC report on the status of ROTC at Harvard which will be presented to the Committee on Educational Policy tomorrow.)

THE ROTC Departments have neither usual privileges nor usual responsibilities. The Departments of Military Science, Naval Science, and Aerospace Studies are clearly not full Academic Departments, nor are they simple Administrative Departments.

Though the nature of the Harvard Faculty's control over these courses is unclear, a few comments can be made on curricular developments since World War II.

The period of questioning following World War II raised two issues which have been primary in recent discussions of ROTC: 1) ROTC courses are pre-professional and thus inappropriate to a liberal arts education and 2) ROTC courses are not as rigorous as regular Harvard courses.

The issue of pre-professionalism is revelant only in a liberal arts institution. In his October 4, 1968 statement, Colonel Pell said:

Until the last decade of the 52-year parntership ["of school and government"]--on no serious scale until the last two years--was there any sign of discontent on the side of the academic community. There weren't many academicians who thought that academic credit for the military skills taught on in ROTC had suddenly become different from the skills taught by other professionals--the doctors, lawyers, engineers and business men--and should not be allowable for credit.

Colonel Pell's statement does not, however, apply to Harvard College, which is solely a liberal arts institution. In a liberal arts college, it is inappropriate to grant credit towards a A.B. degree for completion of courses of a solely pre-professional nature. The HRPC does not try to define what consitutes a solely pre-professional course, nor do we attempt to define what constitutes appropriate rigor. Harvard normally seeks to make decisions in accordance with general guidelines rather than rigid definitions. The military training goal of the ROTC programs is a clear violation of the liberal arts norm.

The special status of the ROTC units as externally established and controlled Departments of Military Science, Naval Science, and Aerospace Studies represents an undesirable delegation of authority by the Harvard Faculty. It appears that Harvard must accept at least the prescribed course content of the ROTC programs as a condition for maintenance of the programs. If Harvard were to determine that some part of the minimum content was inappropriate for a liberal arts college or if Harvard were to demand that any particular course material should be included in the curriculum, it would have no assurance that its desires would be met. Harvard may always make suggestions regarding curriculum, but it is powerless to enforce its suggestions, short of rejecting the ROTC programs.

In practice, Harvard seems able to work well with the ROTC Units on an ad hoc basis and maintains ultimate power of approval or disapproval on course offerings and accreditation. Though the ROTC Units seem to have a great deal of freedom to work with Harvard on curricular matters, cooperation and a measure of freedom do not change the basic condition that Harvard has no assurance that its demands will always be met. It is our view that ultimately the ROTC Departments are the Defense Department, rather than true Harvard Academic or Administrative Departments.

NOT ONLY does Harvard have no assurance that its demands regarding academic content will be met, but Harvard does not have assurance that its demands regarding academic conduct will be met by the ROTC Units. All ROTC instructors selected by the Military Services, though their appointments are subject to Harvard approval (the senior officers are interviewed by the Dean of Harvard College) and Harvard may always request that an instructor be removed for just cause (no cause of such a request is known). The senior officers in each ROTC Unit are given the non-tenured rank of Professor. The bulk of the actual instruction is carried by other military personnel given the non-tenured rank of Associate or Assistant Professor.

The possibility of having regular Harvard Faculty members give regular Harvard courses which could be used to fulfill a ROTC requirement was raised in the period of questioning in the 1950's, although a problem arose regarding whether suitable courses would be given each year, or at least every other year. The discussion about having Harvard instructors give military science courses is founded upon the belief, in which the HRPC concurs, that military history and certain other military matters are valid academic endeavors within the liberal arts and general education spirits. But problems arise when courses on military subjects are taught within the Harvard credit structure by military personnel selected by the Military Services for the express purpose of training potential officers.

In his comments at a recent Student Faculty Advisory Council meeting Captain Moriatry of Navy ROTC made a useful distinction between operational courses (e.g.,leadership, weapons systems, military operations and administration, marine navigation) and policy courses (e.g., U.S. foreign policy and the role of the military). He indicated that it is the Navy's belief that Harvard prefers to have its own regular professors teach courses on policy matters and that the Navy does not feel it should teach courses on policy matters at Harvard. The Army, though, offers just such a course: Military Science 4hf--"Operations and Military Administration"--includes "a survey of the role of the United States in world affairs."

CAPTAIN Moriarty was also asked whether, because of his position as a military man, a ROTC instructor might feel restricted in the freedom to express views in conflict with an official national policy. He indicated that a ROTC instructor might feel so restricted. The possibility that a ROTC instructor might be so restricted is incompatible with the spirit of academic freedom.

The Policy Committee does not contend that ROTC instructors do present biased views in an attempt to put forth any particular ideological or policy view. Further, the military discipline to which the ROTC member must submit during his summer obligations and during his term-time marching and other training obligations does not extend to the class-room, and no uniforms are worn by ROTC members in classes. It is conceivable that in a ROTC course there would be the greatest freedom of expression and no attempt to propagandize and particular policy view. Each ROTC instructor must decide for himself how he views policy matters. But even if every ROTC instructor at Harvard were in fact to view his course setting as a completely academic one and to feel free to express all his views on policy matters, Harvard would still have no assurance that such a condition would be permanent.

The mere possibility that an instructor would be restricted in the freedom to express his views is a condition which the regular Harvard Faculty member would find intolerable. Further, Harvard seeks to protect its Faculty members when academic freedom is challenged. Such protehtion could never be afforded a ROTC instructor.

The HRPC does not challenge Harvard's right to invite a member of the Military Services to give a course on military or foreign policy. But in the case of the ROTC programs, Harvard is not inviting an individual whom it feels is an expert on military history and policy, but rather is inviting the Defense Department to establish Departments of Military Science, Naval Science, and Aerospace Studies and to staff them with military personnel who are to serve a tour of duty for the express purpose of training future officers.

In the normal Harvard appointment procedure, a group of experts in the field (most of whom are not Harvard Faculty members) judge the qualifications of an individual after an Academic Department has recommended him for tenure. In the case of ROTC appointments, the instructor is recommended by the Defense Department, and Harvard may only approve or disapprove the selection.

It seems obvious that Harvard never meant to and never did establish the Departments of Military Science, Naval Science, and Aerospace Studies with the full privileges of Academic Departments. All candidates for the A.B. degree must complete at least 13 1/2 non-ROTC courses, all Faculty appointments for ROTC personnel are non-tenured, and ROTC Departments may not recommend degrees. Further, it seems that the ROTC Units view themselves as ROTC Units, not as Harvard Departments.. Harvard has never entrusted the ROTC Units with the full privileges of an Academic Department, nor should it. An externally controlled body which pursues military training goals within the credit structure of the liberal arts program is incompatible with the liberal arts spirit. Credit courses on military matters must be given within the regular structure of Harvard rather than within the military structure of the ROTC Units.

The ROTC Units clearly hold a special status within Harvard. The HRPC recommends that the ROTC status be modified by withdrawing academic credit for ROTC course offerings. This recommendation is not meant to challenge the existence of ROTC programs at Harvard. We do feel, however, that change in the present status is necessary if ROTC is to remain at Harvard and its existence not contradict the basic educational principles of the liberal arts institution

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