Yale Will Get ROTC Unit on Campus

Yale will establish a Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit on its campus and begin accepting cadets in fall of 2012, bringing ROTC’s four decade absence to an end, Yale announced last week.

Secretary of the Navy Ray E. Mabus and Yale University President Richard C. Levin signed an agreement to establish an NROTC unit in which students from Yale and other local colleges will be able to participate.

“The new Navy ROTC unit at Yale continues the University's proud tradition of educating students who serve our country's armed forces," Levin said in a statement. "From Lexington to Afghanistan, our students and graduates have contributed to the nation's defense, and the return of NROTC will make it easier for the most talented young men and women who aspire to leadership in our military to gain a Yale education."

Yale’s decision follows Harvard's recognition of NROTC in March, after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Many have said that Harvard’s decision to recognize ROTC would influence other institutions to follow.

Harvard Kennedy School professor David R. Gergen said at the March signing ceremony in Loeb House that he believed that Harvard’s recognition is “likely to have a ripple effect across the nation.”

In April, the faculties of both Stanford and Columbia voted to recognize ROTC for the first time since the Vietnam War era.

However, Yale’s establishment of its own unit “one-ups” Harvard—though ROTC will be officially recognized by Harvard, cadets will continue to complete many aspects of their training at MIT. Yale students who participated in ROTC to this point have often had to travel over an hour to the University of Connecticut or other universities—and there was no Naval ROTC in the state.

"The renewal of a formal relationship with Yale will serve to bring dozens of new and talented officers who will carry on Yale's tradition of service into the Navy and Marine Corps each year," Mabus said.

Due to the military's costs and the limited interest in ROTC among Harvard students, it remains unlikely that Harvard will get its own unit in the near future. In 2010-2011, only about 20 Harvard undergrads are enrolled in MIT’s ROTC program.

Despite the burdens of ROTC participation, two Yale seniors were commissioned as US Air Force second lieutenants this spring.

Yale “hopes to enhance its affiliation with Air Force ROTC even as it welcomes Naval ROTC back to its campus,” according to the statement.

—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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