Harvard to Officially Recognize Naval ROTC

An agreement to be signed tomorrow ends a 40 year standoff between the University and the military

Higgins said he believes there should be “some sort of marketing campaign” to increase awareness of the program on campus and that current cadets can play a major role in this effort.

“Recognition makes the military a viable career track,” Higgins said. “This is something that Harvard students can do apart from just banking and consulting.”

Capt. Paul E. Mawn ’63 (Ret.), chairman of Harvard Advocates for ROTC, has suggested that Harvard retool its admissions focus to target and recruit students who would be interested in the military.

But Parker said he believes that “we have to hunker down and build this program first.”

“We have to put Harvard’s assets on the table and say it is worth your while to train your cadets here,” he added.


Parker said he believes that with recognition, the admissions office will have more traction in communities where the military is highly valued. “It is time to scoop that talent,” he said.

Higgins said he believes that Harvard already has strong ties to the military that make it an appealing choice. Higgins—who said he was choosing between West Point and Harvard as a high school senior—said that he has been surprised by the opportunities he has had to interact with top members of the military through Harvard’s graduate schools.

“When I was a high school senior I didn’t understand what a great breeding ground Harvard can be for the military,” he said.


But members of the Harvard queer community have expressed concern that the University will violate its non-discrimination policy by recognizing ROTC. Currently, the military does not allow trans and intersex individuals to enlist as it considers gender identity disorder—the psychological classification that describes transgenderism—and intersexism to be medical disqualifications. Some opponents of recognizing ROTC contend that this policy is discriminatory.

Though openly gay and lesbian individuals are expected to be able to serve after top government officials certify the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the new policy will not apply to trans and intersex and individuals.

“Here’s the fundamental question the administration has to answer: Given our non-discrimination policy, what if a trans student wants to serve?” said Harvard College Queer Students and Allies Co-Chair Marco Chan ’11. “We all know what the outcome would be—they’d be disqualified. How does the school answer to that? How does the school answer when a student cannot join a recognized activity because of their gender identity? We can’t debate that this is a violation of our own non-discrimination policy.”

“I’m very disappointed,” added Jia Hui Lee ’12, a member of the Trans Task Force. “Now, the least the administration can do is admit that they have and will continue to ignore its trans students.”

Lee and other students plan to protest against this decision outside Massachusetts Hall tomorrow from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. The agreement between the University and the Pentagon will be signed this afternoon at Loeb House.

Chan, Lee, and other student leaders met with Faust’s staff to discuss their concerns earlier this week. Both Chan and Lee said that while the staffers were very receptive to their input, they said they felt in the meeting as if the administration had already decided it was going to recognize ROTC.

“It didn’t feel like there was ground to compromise,” said Chan. “For me, that’s disconcerting.”

—Staff Writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at

—Staff writer Zoe. A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at