After nearly four decades, Harvard has officially welcomed the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps back to campus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday afternoon celebrated the opening of a satellite office for the Navy on Harvard’s campus.
The ceremony marked the first concrete step in the University’s move to reintegrate ROTC at Harvard.
Previously, ROTC was not recognized by the University because it said “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the military policy that banned gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from serving openly in the military—violated Harvard’s anti-discrimination policy.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed by Congress in December, and Harvard in March announced it would welcome back ROTC.
The newly created Naval ROTC office will be housed on the second floor of the Student Organization Center at Hilles and will seek to support cadets on campus.
University President Drew G. Faust said that this first step to establish a partnership with the military “not only affirms our shared interest in an inclusive society but also deepens the reservoirs of talent on which the military so vitally depends.” She also said that she hopes the relationship between the University and NROTC serves as a symbol of one of Harvard’s core values.
“I share a new wish today—a wish that this program flourish in the months and years ahead,” she said. “That it exemplify an idea at the heart of our country and our university, that our diversity makes us strong.”
Though NROTC has received a room in the SOCH, cadets will not actually be training on campus.
Harvard is unlikely to establish its own unit until a critical mass of students enroll in an ROTC program, according to Capt. Paul E. Mawn ’63 USNR (Ret.), chairman of Harvard Advocates for ROTC. The costs of establishing a unit are considerable and the Pentagon has recently been under financial constraints, Mawn said.
Still, Captain Curtis R. Stevens, who will serve as the first director of NROTC at Harvard, said that he was “absolutely amazed at the very sincere welcome we have received from everybody here at Harvard.”
Stevens said that he feels that Harvard and the Navy share similar values. “Harvard expects the scholarship and congeniality it fosters in its students will lead them in their later lives to advance knowledge, to [increase] understanding, and to serve society. These are ideals shared by the Navy,” he said.
Faust echoed these sentiments.
“Today we celebrate a society advanced, granting openly gay and lesbian citizens the opportunity to serve the nation creates new possibilities for men and women to pursue their aspirations to grow as leaders and to devote themselves to the noble work of supporting and defending the Constitution,” she said.
Since March, the University has worked on hammering out the details of ROTC’s return.
According to University spokesman Kevin Galvin, the University will continue to pursue talks with the Army and Air Force about recognizing an official relationship.
-Staff writer Mercer R. Cook can be reached email@example.com
-Staff writer Zoe A.Y. Weinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org