Proud To Be Harvard ROTC

ROTC provides a valuable opportunity to Harvard students.

Wednesday, August 23, 1991, 4:59 A.M. The birds haven't even begun to sing, the moon hasn't disappeared out of the sky I'm still hanging on to the last bits of a dream.

The tranquil early morning silence is broken when one minute later my slumber is interrupted by a screaming man banging on a trash can as if Armageddon were close approaching.

In what seems like half a heartbeat, I'm out of my rack (in civilian terms, bed) standing at attention in the hallway in PT (physical training) gear, awaiting further instruction.

The platoon sergeant, also in PT gear, hollers "First platoon, make a head call!" In perfect unison, all 14 of us respond accordingly: "FIRST PLATOON MAKE A HEAD CALL, AYE AYE PLATOON SERGEANT!" And after he barks "MOVE!", we answer, again in unison, with a motivated grunt and shuffle off to the bathroom to begin our day.

The 14 of us, from a many different states at there were people, were given our first taste of the responsibilities and challenges that would face us as future officers of the United States Navy. And after that week, we would disperse from the Naval Education and Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island and arrive at our respective universities (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts and Harvard) and begin our studies as freshmen, class of 1995.

ROTC at Harvard, who are these people? What do they do? Where do they live? And, more importantly, whatever possessed them to join the armed forces?

Whenever ROTC is discussed, it seems to boil down to these four basic questions. It is an acronym that has been the subject of debate on this campus for years, and this debate greeted me upon my arrival in September of 1991.

Although I cannot speak for the entire battalion, and especially not the Navy as a whole, I can share my experienced with the Naval Reserve Officer Training Crop and my experiences as a student at this University. I visited the United States Naval Academy in June of 1990, and stayed there for a week. I attended classes with other participants in this program ate meals in King Hall with Academy midshipmen and slept in Bancroft Hall, the largest single dormitory in the country--4,400 students under one roof with miles of corridors.

I received a glimpse of military life, from running the obstacle course to discussing the politics of elections with a professor to "flaming," a high pressure activity which takes place during Plebe Summer (mandatory training before your freshman year at the Naval Academy) and is as unpleasant as it sounds.

When I returned home, I had a completely different perspective of the possibilities open to me in the armed forces. I then looked at the ROTC option and soon knew that I had stumbled upon something I wanted to do.

Harvard University is an institution which offers a truly unique educational opportunity. Before applying to Harvard-Radcliffe, I had made the decision that I wanted to combine my undergraduate education with the necessary training to get a commission as an officer in the Navy.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps afforded me just that opportunity. This program affords college students from a variety of backgrounds and academic disciplines the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree at the institution of their choice while training to be an officer, For me, ROTC was vary attractive option.

Yet, controversy seems to inevitably follow in ROTC's wake, mainly concerning the issue of homosexuals in the armed forces. Regardless of the personal feelings and opinions members of ROTC may espouse, this question will ultimately be resolved by members of Congress and other high-ranking leaders in the United States Government.

Harvard has an established record of producing leaders in all capacities; ROTC students here contribute to this tradition from the education they resceive as students and from the extensive leadership training as future officers.

Losing ROTC would not only represent the denial of educational opportunities, but it would be antithetical to the fulfillment of one of the most important missions of the University: producing leaders.