ACTA Advocates for ROTC Recognition

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a nonprofit advocacy group has submitted a letter to the Harvard Corporation urging the University to recognize the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“We ask simply that the Corporation commit Harvard to official recognition of ROTC,” the letter said. “That can be done by the Corporation immediately—whether or not there is an official ROTC unit on campus.”

University President Drew G. Faust said in November that Harvard would recognize ROTC upon the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. A repeal of that policy—which the University has said violated its antidiscrimination policy—was signed into law in December.

But the repeal has yet to take effect as the military reviews its potential effects, and the University has not officially changed its position.

ACTA President Anne D. Neal ’77 said in an interview yesterday that her organization has also written letters to Yale, Columbia, and Stanford encouraging ROTC recognition.

Though ACTA has advocated for ROTC for several years before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it redoubled efforts after the repeal, Neal said.

Some have argued that there is not enough interest on campus to justify creating a unit at Harvard. But Neal said that she believes that this is a “chicken and egg” problem, and that recognition and publicity of ROTC will lead to greater interest and participation in the program.

“We are very heartened by the words of President Faust,” Neal said.

Faust confirmed yesterday that the University is in discussion with the military about the possibility of creating an ROTC unit at Harvard.

“We have had conversations with the military focused on the gay and lesbian issue,” Faust said.

Recently however, the Harvard Trans Task Force (TTF) and other members of the community have protested that the military still does not allow trans-identified and intersex individuals to serve in the military—meaning that ROTC’s return could still violate University antidiscrimination policy.

“Recognizing ROTC does not prevent students from making this kind of a protest or arguing,” Neal said. But “there is a belief that it is time to make this service available to students that would like it.”

TTF members met with members of the administration yesterday.

“The issues that are being voiced now by transgender students are ones that I think the military hasn’t entirely sorted through because it has been posed to them over the last two decades in terms of gays and lesbians,” Faust said.

“These are voices that have become much more forceful and much more vocal in recent years.”

-Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at tmerrigan@college.harvard.edu.                                                        -Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at zoe.weinberg@college.harvard.edu

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