Phi Beta Cons

An Officer Argues for ROTC at Yale

Today’s Inside Higher Ed reproduces (with an update) a column by Lt. Col. Rich Morales, a Yale School of Management graduate and a battalion commander currently in Iraq. The column originally appeared in the Yale Daily News. It argues that Yale (and the military) would benefit from bring ROTC back to campus. The money grafs:

Many oppose such a move because it signals an acceptance of policies they cannot condone. It may be the notion that armed conflict is immoral or inhumane. Alternatively, opposition could stem from the nation’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy or our country’s disproportionately large defense budget. Both, it should be noted, are policy decisions that are decided by elected civilian leaders in the White House and on Capitol Hill, not in the Pentagon.

Principled stands — like those against ROTC are what I cherish about my Yale classmates, but I believe that because of those stands, and not in spite of them, it’s time to bring military officer development back to New Haven. The greater good is best served by exporting more of Yale (and the country’s other top universities) to all walks of life, not just those where colleges like Yale fit neatly, like academia, nonprofits, business and government.

This charitable attitude towards dissent is characteristic of those in uniform. During my own time in Iraq, I certainly heard grumbles about the worst excesses of the anti-war movement, but never once heard any expression that the anti-war position itself was somehow morally bankrupt.

This respect for dissent exists, in part, because the military itself is far, far more diverse than your typical university, and orders of magnitude more diverse than an elite school like Yale. The military is more representative of the larger American culture by class, by race, and by viewpoint. At no point during my year in Iraq could I assume that I knew how an individual thought about any issue merely because they wore the uniform.

Yale can learn a lot from the Army about race relations, classism, sexism, and the diversity of ideas. Arguably, the United States Army is the single most effective branch of our government and the single most effective large institution in the entire nation. Its members interact more with other cultures and encounter more complex problems — at a younger age — than the members of any other organization in our society.

In short, the Army is not substantially poorer for being shut out of Yale . . . Yale is substantially poorer for shutting out the Army.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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