ROTC Group Raises Its Voice

Association increases campus profile post-Sept. 11

Renee J. Gasgarth

Lt. DON KENDRICK talks to the ROTC Association last night in Leverett House JCR.

The presence of the Harvard Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)—banished from campus since 1969—has increased suddenly and significantly since the student group Harvard Reserve Officers Training Corps Association (ROTCA) held its first meeting of the year yesterday.

The group is four years old, but until recently, has kept a relatively low profile. Now, the events of Sept. 11, along with a recent push to bring ROTC back to Harvard, have prompted the group’s leadership to try to increase campus awareness of the military.

Association officials stressed that while the group carries the ROTC name, its purpose is different from that of the military training program.

“I didn’t feel like a lot of people knew there was a military presence on campus,” said ROTCA member Brian R. Smith ’02. “ROTCA aims to increase awareness on campus of the military and dispel misconceptions of what the military—not just ROTC—is in general.”

Associate Dean David P. Illingworth ’71 said that difference explains why the organization exists despite Harvard’s exclusion of regular ROTC programs on campus.

“ROTCA is a student group and not controlled by the military, although obviously its sympathies are with the military,” Illingworth said.

About 30 students, half of whom were ROTC members, attended the discussion in the Leverett House Junior Common Room.

Association President Charles B. Cromwell ’02 said he wants ROTCA to have an increased role on campus this year because of past events. The group’s new leadership and larger membership will help accomplish that goal, he said.

“The group just consisted of ROTC members in the past,” he said. “We hope to revamp the organization this year.”

Lt. Don Kendrick and Lt. Dana Pittard, both National Security fellows at the Kennedy School of Government, spoke about their military experience at the meeting and fielded questions from the audience.

Pittard, who served as a military aide to President Clinton, discussed his wide range of experiences, including leading a battalion and traveling to different countries on Air Force One.

“I always enjoy meeting senior officers,” said ROTCA Secretary Rafi S. Cohen ’04, who is enrolled in ROTC. “As a cadet, it is valuable to see some active military members.”

Cromwell said he hopes to take advantage of the ROTC alumni organization to bring speakers to ROTCA meetings. The alumni organization has connections to high-ranking officials involved in public service, he said.