Kerry urges Yale to welcome ROTC back to campus

March 4, 2011

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NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Sen. John Kerry called on Yale University to follow Harvard's lead Friday and welcome the Reserve Officer Training Corps back to the Ivy League campus.

Kerry, a Yale alumnus, wrote in a letter to the university's president that the breakthrough at Harvard is important in moving past a "difficult era" when many elite schools turned away ROTC to protest the now defunct ban on gays serving openly in the military.

"As an alumnus whose life and values were in part shaped both by Yale, and by my service in the United States Navy, I would like to see Yale join Harvard's lead welcoming ROTC back to campus in New Haven," the Massachusetts Democrat said in the letter released by his office.

Yale spokeswoman Suzanne Taylor Muzzin said Friday that officials are "actively involved" in discussions with the military about reviving ROTC on campus but are not sure when a decision might be made.

The ROTC program at Yale had about 100 participants when it ended in the early 1970s. Today, a handful of Yale students are involved with ROTC, but they must attend training at either the University of Connecticut or University of New Haven. Because Yale does not fully recognize ROTC, those students do not earn academic credit toward their Yale degrees for courses they take elsewhere as they work toward a military commission.

Yale President Richard Levin has said the school "is eager to open discussions about expanding opportunities for students interested in military service."

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus were scheduled to sign an agreement Friday establishing the Naval ROTC's formal presence on campus for the first time since the Vietnam War era.

ROTC first exited amid anti-war sentiment, and the school lately kept it off campus and stopped funding the program because of the policy that prevented gays from serving openly. But Faust said she had worked toward ROTC's return after Congress repealed the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy in December.