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A Survey of ROTC's Status in the Ivies


The following report was prepared by Crimson staff members Amanda P. Bennett, Robin Freedberg, Geoffrey D. Garin, Seth M. Kupferberg, H. Jeffrey Leonard, Richard J. Meislin, Mark J. Penn, Dale S. Russakoff, and Peter M. Shane.

There are hushed whispers at Harvard, peaceful objections at Princeton and ROTC courses at three of the eight Ivy League institutions. More than three years after the 1969 outburst of campus antiwar protest, the ROTC program is limited but credited at Cornell and Penn, extracurricular at Princeton and dead and buried at Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia and Dartmouth.

Like an octopus, ROTC firmly plant its tentacles into all Ivy League school for decades. But since the late 1960s, when the program became a target of antiwar protest at all eight colleges, ROTC and the various climates in which it lived or died have taken different forms.

A look at ROTC's fate at the eight Ivy schools reveals that the arms of the Ivy League ROTC octopus no longer seem to belong to the same animal.


ROTC left the Dartmouth campus in much the same way that it exited from Harvard's pearly gates. In 1969, student opposition to the Vietnam war fostered widespread agitation against the program. Students viewed Dartmouth's cooperation in officer training as evidence of more than tacit approval of the U.S.'s war effort. So in the Spring of 1969, about 200 students occupied Dartmouth's central administration building demanding the abolition of ROTC. The Administration called in the state police and had the students peacefully evicted.

A student vote to strike until ROTC was abolished virtually shut the school down. As a first result, classes and examinations were cancelled, and almost everyone got A's in courses they had technically not completed. Secondly, the faculty voted to abolish ROTC and the Administration announced that no new ROTC students would be accepted and no new contracts with the Defense Department would be negotiated.

ROTC finally left the Dartmouth campus when a handful of Navy officers was graduated from the college last spring. Army and Air Force training had ceased two years earlier.

Harold Moorman, professor of Military Science at Dartmouth from 1954-1960 and now director of the college's career counseling unit, opposed the eviction of ROTC from the campus. He maintained that the program had benefits to offer individual students and the college. But Moorman, who retired from the Army in 1964, said yesterday that student interest in ROTC has waned and that "it certainly would be silly to teach a course that no one wants to take."


The University of Pennsylvania is one of the few Ivy League schools which still maintains an active ROTC program. The Army and Navy units are old ones--Penn had an Air Force unit which it has given up--and there appears to be little possibility that Penn will move to terminate its ROTC program in the near future.

Students receive credit for ROTC courses from three of the University's undergraduate divisions: The College for Women, The Wharton School and The School of Engineering. Students in the largest undergraduate division, The School of Arts and Sciences cannot get academic credit for ROTC courses.

Arts and Sciences suspended ROTC credit after Penn students demonstrated against the program in 1970. In 1971, demonstrations to have ROTC removed entirely from the University proved unsuccessful.

ROTC's presence is no longer a major issue at Penn. After ROTC enrollment reached its low point in 1971, student participation in the program began to rise and continues to do so.

Charles Dwyer, assistant professor of Education at Penn, who wrote the Faculty report on ROTC in 1971, called Penn's ROTC program "unconventional" and said that the directors of ROTC at Penn have taken "the broadest kind of latitude in designing their own program."

The presence of ROTC at Penn is defended on the grounds that ROTC provides scholarships to Penn students and funnels the tuition fees it receives into the University. In exchange, Penn gives ROTC free rent and utilities, besides helping to pay the secretarial staff. ROTC instructors are paid by the military.

ROTC courses are given under the Department of Military Science and they are open to students who are not enrolled in ROTC.


Cornell, because of a law requiring land-grant colleges to have military science programs, has had ROTC at its five undergraduate colleges since the training program began during World War I.

The only way that Cornell could abolish all ROTC programs from campus is to forfeit its land grant status and thereby lose the major source of its funds for operation.

When Cornell first established ROTC over 50 years ago, the program was mandatory for all first and second year students in all of Cornell's six undergraduate colleges.

Compulsory ROTC remained at Cornell until 1956, when the faculty voted to make its status voluntary.

ROTC was not an issue again at Cornell until 1968. In the face of adverse reaction to Vietnam and a growing feeling that the University itself was too deeply involved in United States military efforts, the faculty of Arts and Sciences at Cornell voted to discontinue all credited ROTC courses in that college. But credited ROTC courses remained at the other five undergraduate colleges at Cornell and ROTC cadets were still admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences.

The decision of the Arts and Sciences faculty came about with little student pressure.

A test case in 1971 brought a non-credit ROTC course back to Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences. This fall, however, Arts and Sciences students are receiving four hours of credit for the course. There was no student opposition to the change.

L. Pearce Williams, chairman of the History Department and instructor of the ROTC course, estimated that about 200 Cornell students are ROTC cadets, and that about 25 of them are in the Arts and Sciences college.


Columbia set up a Naval ROTC program in 1946, inspired by the recommendation of its president, left-over fervor from World War II, and satisfaction with a wartime on-campus midshipman training program and arrangements for the Navy to use Columbia facilities during the war.

ROTC was never compulsory and never very big at Columbia, and in the 1960s it tapered off even more. It was a minor issue in the agitation that led up to Columbia's great 1968 strike, in which student opposition to alleged Columbia encroachment on the Morningside Heights community was far more vocal and influential. Nevertheless, after the bloody end of the strike, in which police clubbed, beat and arrested the students occupying Hamilton Hall, the Columbia Faculty set up a committee to study ROTC.

In March of 1969 Columbia's Trustees accepted the committee's recommendation that ROTC be made extracurricular--and thus eliminated, since Congress hasn't authorized extracurricular ROTC programs--so that the university could more faithfully carry out its role as "a free center of inquiry." The 45 students already enrolled in ROTC finished their courses and graduated under the old requirements, but no new students were enrolled, and ROTC quickly passed out of sight and almost out of memory.

There's been no move to bring it back since then. "ROTC?" one official in Columbia's Public Information Department asked yesterday. "I haven't had a question about ROTC in years."


Brown University laid its ROTC program to rest in June 1972--its last ROTC students received diplomas as news of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia swept the country.

The program's death there was hardly unexpected, coming three years after the Brown faculty stipulated that future ROTC programs would be non-credit and ROTC professors would have no voting faculty status. Given those and other guidelines in 1969, the Navy decided in 1972 that it could not continue its ROTC program at Brown. The contract was thus allowed to expire in June 1972.

Brown's ROTC program, founded during the First World War and fortified during World War II, had a modest enrollment until 1969, when anti-war sentiment and the shaky status of the program made it an unattractive option. Enrollment was never mandatory, Kelsey Murdoch, assistant to the President of Brown, said yesterday.

Student antiwar protests were mild at Brown in 1969 and afterwards, and the settlement of the ROTC issue fit with the relatively peaceful tone of the campus. A student-faculty-corporation committee studied Brown's ROTC program, reached a negative verdict in 1972, and submitted its report to the faculty. The faculty then affirmed the decision, restating and updating their 1969 guidelines.

Student concern over the presence of ROTC at Brown predated the 1969 climax, but was not an overriding aspect of protest during that year, Murdoch said. When the Navy ROTC contract came up for revision in 1972, however, anti-ROTC teach-ins moved to the center of student life for several weeks prior to the faculty vote, and about 200 students demonstrated when the faculty met that Spring.

Brown's students still don't want to see ROTC renewed. The Faculty and administrators are no longer talking about it. And the Navy isn't interested in a campus where its status is so circumscribed.


ROTC is so far gone at Yale that even the administrators no longer remember clearly when it began, when it ended or who was in charge of it.

Course credit for ROTC dropped in 1966 when requirements for the undergraduate degree were revised. "It became clear that (since we had reduced the total number of credits required for graduation) we could safely drop credit from ROTC courses," Martin Griffin, associate dean of Yale College, said yesterday.

During the summer of 1968, Griffin said, when antiwar sentiment was more intense, the question became whether or not ROTC belonged on campus at all. "The question translated itself into whether students could drop the ROTC courses from their schedules in the same way they did regular Yale courses," Griffin said.

Yale's ROTC withdrew voluntarily, Griffin said. "Because of the contractual arrangement with students, they were not satisfied with our allowing students to withdraw from their courses," he said.

He said that there were very few students in ROTC at the time and that "they (ROTC) probably would have withdrawn anyway."

There is no obvious movement toward the resurrection of ROTC at Yale, Griffin said. He added that the few students who wanted to participate in ROTC went to the University of Southern Connecticut for it "on a voluntary basis."


After years of demonstrations, referendums and committee reports, Princeton's ROTC program has been stripped of its academic status, but remains as an extracurricular activity.

A trustee committee report issued last week said that the university owes the retention of ROTC "to the country, to the system of government that makes Princeton University possible." So although the Board of trustees will meet tomorrow to consider the question, it is unlikely that what remains of the Army's program will be abolished.

ROTC was established at Princeton in 1919, and reached its peak in 1939 when 350 students enrolled in preparation for World War II.

The first ripple of trouble came in 1969 when the faculty voted to drop academic credit for the course and reduced the status of ROTC "professors" to that of visiting lecturers.

In reaction to the Cambodian invasion and a general university anti-war strike, the faculty voted in 1971 to abolish ROTC. The Army and Air Force withdrew completely, but the Navy stayed until its contract with the university expired in June 1972.

Although ROTC seemed to be on its way out, a Princeton student council narrowly voted to reinstate the program, setting off the debate which is still unresolved.

Amid antiwar occupations of buildings at the college, Princeton's board of trustees voted in 1972 to reinstate the Army's program on a limited basis--without credit or funds.

Since that time, two committees, one composed of students and faculty, the other of trustees, have been reviewing ROTC. Last week both issued their reports.

While the trustees supported the Army's ROTC, the students and faculty concluded that "a strong case against ROTC at Princeton can be made."

Princeton President Bowen has been silent on the issue since he took office last year. His last traceable statement on ROTC indicated, however, that he favors retention of the program as an extracurricular activity.

As for the ROTC program itself, it is operating this year with 26 students and eight staff members.


The current New American Movement campaign for a referendum on ROTC at Harvard was provoked by a much-publicized, but brief comment by President Bok last June.

Harvard's conscience, Bok said, depended on the University's "willingness to entertain an ROTC program on terms compatible with our usual institutional standards."

The magnitude of the reaction to Bok's first public mention of ROTC reflects the importance ROTC itself attaches to having even an undersized unit at Harvard.

"As Harvard goes, so goes the Army ROTC program," Col. R.H. Pell, former professor of Military Science and commanding officer of Harvard Army ROTC, wrote in a 1969 memo to the Faculty.

After 53 years at Harvard and in the wake of a struggle that almost irreparably split the University, ROTC finally withdrew in 1969.

While student radicals attacked what they called Harvard's complicity in a criminal and imperialist military, student and Faculty committees produced studies attacking ROTC on more traditional academic grounds.

The Faculty voted 207 to 125 on February 4, 1969 to recommend to the Corporation that course credit, Faculty appointments, and free facilities be denied to ROTC.

The Corporation announced in March 1969 that it would accept the Faculty's recommendation on course credit, but would "do everything possible to keep ROTC" at Harvard.

Three to four hundred protesters occupied University Hall on April 9 demanding an end to Harvard's ROTC program. A bloody police bust ordered by the Administration polarized the Faculty and precipitated an immediate student strike.

The Faculty reaffirmed its earlier vote in a resolution passed 385 to 25 on April 17.

The Corporation subsequently accepted the Faculty's guidelines, and, without the status of regular academic programs, Harvard's ROTC units withdrew.

ROTC's return to Harvard is unlikely. Both Bok and Dean Rosovsky say they have no plans for introducing the issue. No students responded to the Young Republicans' notice last Spring inviting interested students to contact the club. And neither the Faculty nor the Faculty Council currently has ROTC on its agenda. Vital Statistics SCHOOL  BORN  CURRENT STATUS OF ROTC PROGRAM Penn  1918  Credited in the College for Women, the Wharton School and the School of Engineering. Extracurricular in the College of Arts and Sciences. Army and Navy only. Cornell  1919  Credit available in all colleges. Princeton  1919  Extracurricular. Army sponsored. Harvard  1916  Died June 1970 Yale  Unknown  Died June 1971 Dartmouth  1940s  Died June 1973 Columbia  1946  Died after 1969 Brown  WWI  Died June 1972

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