For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will be recognized on Harvard’s campus, according to a statement released by the school yesterday.
Harvard President Drew Faust will sign an official agreement with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus today that will re-establish the Naval ROTC program on campus upon the official repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prevents openly gay men and women from serving in the military.
Since repeal of the controversial law, many institutions — including Brown — that had previously banned ROTC began debating the possibility of its return. Harvard is the first Ivy League school to officially announce a reinstatement of the program.
Under the new agreement, Harvard will instate a Naval ROTC director for the school and provide funding for students in the program, though training will take place at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals,” Faust said.
But Chair of the Harvard Trans Task Force Jia Hui Lee said the announcement was a “rude shock” to transgender advocates, who say the military’s policies violate the school nondiscrimination code, despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“Since Harvard prides itself of being one of the leading institutions in the U.S., this sets a very dangerous precedent for other schools to disregard their (transgender) students,” Lee said. He is organizing a protest that will take place outside Faust’s office this afternoon as she signs the agreement.
Faust also announced the formation of a committee that will implement not only the Naval ROTC program but also future ROTC programs from other branches of the military.