Monday, October 25, 2010

ROTC banned?

Many of us believe that ROTC was "banned" or driven out of elite northeast colleges -- mostly Ivy Leaguers -- because of principled opposition to the military. This is not the case, as a recent NY Times Op-Ed points out. In fact, schools may not boot out either ROTC or military recruiters without facing legal consequences, including lawsuits. None of the Ivies presumed to have thrown out the military have, in fact, been sued by the military. ROTC was mainly discontinued because the Defense Department expected it to get academic credit without meeting the standards that other departments and courses of study have to meet. In fact, universities have offered to allow ROTC as an extra-curricular activity when it doesn't meet strict academic standards; the Defense Department has rejected this, and itself removed the program from schools.

There is a lot to be said for requiring academic recipients of federal dollars to allow a military presence on campus. We have to have an army which is competent, intelligent, and subject to civilian control. To the extent that ROTC and military recruiting are non-coercive, they are, it seems to me, not necessarily undesireable. To the extent that they are coecive, it is because the economic opportunity afforded many students is insufficient, and they turn to the armed forces as employers out of necessity. Finally, to the extent that the military is not competent, not intelligent, and not subject to adequate civilian control, the causes are certainly not college hostility, but lie with the military itself or with the improper relationship between Congress and the military.

1 comment:

  1. I thought the issue was that Ivy League colleges had rules against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and therefore could not allow a recruiter on campus that represented any organization that discriminated on that basis.