A Progressive Perspective on What ROTC adds to Duke’s campus…and to our country

Three days ago, Harvard made the decision to reinstate the ROTC program on its campus after first eliminating it during the Vietnam War, and continuing to withhold support for the ROTC program because of DADT.  DADT offered a powerful justification for schools like UChicago, Yale, Brown and Columbia to withhold support for ROTC, but with DADT gone, will these schools follow in Harvard’s footsteps?

Not if students involved in the Keep ROTC Out movement have their way; giving into these pressures would represent a major mistake for Brown and its peer institutions.

The military is perhaps the single employment sector in which it is most important that there be intelligent, humane, and far-sighted individuals.  The only decision arguably more important than deciding how wars ought be fought is deciding whether or not they should be fought in the first place.   In our frenzy about community service, colleges have forgotten about the value of national service; in stressing the importance of humanitarianism and philanthropy, it is easy to forget the role the military can have in preventing unnecessary death and protecting democratic institutions.

That we need a military, in some form, at some size, is incontrovertible; without FDR’s fourth freedom we could have no civil society, no courts, no markets, no social safety nets, no public goods, and, for that matter, no institutions of higher educations.

The military is not a flawless institution, but that is only true because we are not a flawless country.  The military is nevertheless a vital institution, and one that can and does reform itself just as the United States can and does reform itself.  It should be noted that DADT repeal was with widespread Pentagon support.

A great part about attending Duke is interacting with people with profoundly different perspectives, who will go on to achieve great and different things, including serving in the military.  Brown will perpetuate an unfortunate insularity if it keeps ROTC off of campus.

Published by Elena Botella

Elena Botella is a Duke Undergraduate in the Class of 2013, majoring in Economics and Math.

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