Previously, a group of alumni had provided financial support for Harvard cadets. Now, Harvard will step in and provide funds for the program.
The University will also provide transportation to MIT for cadets, who will continue to take military science classes there. In addition, Harvard facilities can now be used for physical training and drills.
Chris W. Higgins ’11, an Army ROTC cadet, said that access to Harvard athletic fields for physical training is especially important and will make training more convenient for cadets.
Phillip A. Acevedo ’13 said that even though training at MIT has posed a number of challenges, “the cadets in ROTC make it work.”
“They don’t really complain that they have to go to MIT. They have their heads on right,” he added.
Most importantly, recognition of ROTC is a powerful symbolic gesture toward the military and could open the door to the establishment of an ROTC unit on campus.
“The symbolism of Harvard recognizing ROTC is huge, and so is cooperation between the nation’s finest university and the military,” Acevedo said. “We need bright leaders in the military. It is how we win and how we maintain our safety and that of our allies.”
Higgins added that he feels that recognition of ROTC is “great for the military, great for Harvard, and great for the country.”
Still, a unit will likely not be established on campus unless student interest in participating increases. As of now, just 20 students at the College are enrolled in ROTC.
“I think the big question is: As the relationship between Harvard and the military becomes closer, will more students see the military as a viable career path?” Higgins asked.
But many students said that recognition of ROTC may increase the program’s exposure on campus, potentially leading to more interest.
Victoria L. Migdal ’12, an Army cadet, said that she hopes the recognition will increase awareness of the program.
“I don’t know if it will have that much of an impact initially,” Acevedo said. “Hopefully interest will increase and eventually we will have our own unit,”
The issue of lack of interest is a “chicken and egg” problem, according to Anne D. Neal ’77, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group that has sent a letters to the Harvard Corporation pushing for recognition of ROTC.