Senator Scott Brown Petitions for ROTC at Harvard

Upping the ante in the ongoing debate over the Reserve Officer Training Corps’ status at Harvard, Mass. Sen. Scott P. Brown posted a petition on his campaign web site yesterday encouraging constituents to speak out against Harvard’s ban of the program.

“Tell Drew Gilpin Faust ... that it’s time to accept [ROTC] on campus,” the post read.

ROTC “is an honorable service to the United States of America,” the petition stated, adding that “all students wishing to serve in ROTC should be allowed to exercise their service” on the University’s campus.

Brown’s petition comes one week after the Republican senator posted a web statement condemning Harvard’s policy, which denies official status to ROTC due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which the University considers discriminatory. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bars openly gay Americans from serving in the military.

Faust recently said she would consider allowing ROTC to return to campus if the policy were repealed.

Brown, a Lt. Colonel in the Army National Guard, began criticizing the University last week after Faust hinted the policy’s repeal would allow the University to grant the program official recognition.

Faust made the comment a day after the U.S. Senate declined to consider a measure that would have repealed the policy.

“It is incomprehensible to me that Harvard does not allow ROTC to use its facilities, but welcomes students who are in this country illegally,” Brown said last week in response to Faust’s comment that the policy’s repeal would have allowed ROTC to return.

Asked to comment on the petition launched by Brown, University spokesman John D. Longbrake reiterated Faust’s support of Harvard students who participate in ROTC at MIT in terms similar to those used last week.

“President Faust is deeply grateful to them for their service to our country,” he wrote. “We are hopeful that bipartisan support for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will soon make it possible for every Harvard student interested in military service to serve their country.”

Last week, Faust invited a ROTC color guard to appear with her in pregame ceremonies at Fenway Park, and she has made a point of attending ROTC commissioning ceremonies.

While ROTC cadets at Harvard have in the past encouraged the University to grant them official recognition, Air Force ROTC cadet Isaiah T. Peterson ’12 said that the organization was not responsible for Brown’s petition.

In his original statement last week, Brown contrasted the University’s support for the DREAM Act—which Brown says offers “amnesty” to undocumented students—with its stance against ROTC, saying, “Harvard has its priorities upside down.”

The University expelled ROTC over four decades ago amid widespread discontent over the Vietnam war, a decision that has been maintained because of the view that the law unfairly discriminates against homosexuals.

A representative from Brown’s office did not return requests for comment yesterday.

­—Staff writer Elias J. Groll can be reached at egroll@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer William N. White can be reached at wwhite@fas.harvard.edu.

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