ROTC Returns to Yale after 40 Years

by Nathan Harden

The ROTC was permitted back on the Yale University campus this week after four decades of banishment. Initially, 21 students are slated to participate in the officer-training program. This is obviously a good thing for Yale, and for its students, who will now have a much easier way to train. Previously, they had to travel as far as an hour away, to the University of Connecticut, in order to participate in ROTC training exercises.

In my new book, Sex & God at Yale:Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad, I write at some length about Yale’s steady loss of patriotic ethos over the last 40 years — in the time since the ROTC was banished in response to the rabid Vietnam-era anti-military sentiment of the radical Left.

That loss of patriotism, notably, was something William F. Buckley warned about in his own book, God & Man at Yale. And that was 20 years before the ROTC ban ever came about.

For many years, Yale clung to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as an excuse for continuing the military ban — even thought that had nothing to do with why it was banned in the first place. When “don’t ask, don’t tell” was finally revoked, many Yalies felt that the university was more or less forced to take the military back, whether it truly wanted to or not — if for no other reason than to save face. In any case, this is the post-9/11 era, and rabid anti-militarism is no longer as fashionable as it was 40 years ago — even among the academic Left.

For far too long, Yale trained future commanders-in-chief but refused to train the officers they would be commanding. Yale enjoyed the manifold benefits of academic freedom, but refused to support the military institutions that secured that freedom. Now, happily, that risible hypocrisy is a thing of the past. Let us hope that in the future Yale’s officials can take more seriously their role as stewards of America’s future leaders.

Finally, speaking as one Yale alumnus, let me say to the ROTC: Welcome back.

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