Hopes High for More Cadets with Return of NROTC

The return of the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to campus after nearly 40 years has some hopeful that—although many logistical kinks are still to be worked out—current cadets may soon have more peers in the program.

The recognition of the program and increased ease of participation could help motivate previously hesitant students to join, according to attendees at an event Tuesday commemorating the opening of an NROTC office in the Student Organization Center at Hilles.

Sgt. Taylor B. Evans ’14, who served in the Marine Corps for five years before enrolling at Harvard, said that some applicants might have been deterred by Harvard’s refusal to recognize ROTC.

Evans said he hopes that Harvard’s recognition of the program will allow applicants to say, “Harvard is for it, my parents are for it, I’m for it. I believe in this, I believe in the country, I want to serve. Let’s do it.”

Although NROTC is officially recognized and Harvard will now be contributing funding and administrative support, a unit will not be established on campus and Harvard cadets will continue to train at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Harvard has agreed to provide the office for the program, transportation to MIT, and use of Harvard athletic fields for training exercises.

According to the University’s agreement with the Navy, Harvard will contribute funding to the operation of the office and to the creation of a new NROTC director, who will provide mentoring and advice to cadets in the program.

Catherine A. Brown ’14, a current cadet, said she previously had to travel to Boston University or MIT for these counseling services, and in the past, cadets have had to find rides on their own or travel by public transportation.

Brown said that the University is still working out the logistics of transportation, but that the talks are “very encouraging so far.”

Capt. Paul E. Mawn ’63 USNR (Ret.), chairman of Advocates for Harvard ROTC, said that he hopes that eventually Harvard will be able to provide a full array of ROTC services on campus for both the Navy and other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, which do not currently have official relations with Harvard.

While Mawn said he is very pleased with the opening of the NROTC office, he added integrating ROTC into Harvard’s campus remains “a mission far from accomplished as far as Advocates for Harvard ROTC go.”

Brown added that, even though her decision to attend Harvard was not significantly impacted by the University’s previous lack of recognition, she was pleased with the steps that the University has taken.

“Even if the concrete details aren’t worked out, it’s a good feeling,” Brown said. “We have a home at Harvard.”

—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at zoe.weinberg@college.harvard.edu.

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