The radicals have won at Brown University. Even as other elite schools are welcoming ROTC back, the corporation, the University’s highest governing body, has affirmed President Ruth Simmons’s recommendation to maintain its campus ban on ROTC.
With its decision, the corporation has isolated itself from its sister Ivies—and from its own students. It’s worth repeating that both the student body and the initial committee charged with considering ROTC’s return favored ending the campus ban. As Simmons conceded in her report, “If we were to base our conclusion on ROTC purely on the perceived majority consensus expressed in the Committee report, we would either step up our participation in ROTC or bring ROTC back to campus.” The Brown Daily Herald called for ROTC’s return in advance of the corporation’s meeting, as did the Boston Globe.
Perhaps this is why Brown’s public relations team is spinning the corporation’s decision as an endorsement of “enhanced opportunities for ROTC.” Nowhere does the press release mention that these opportunities will be off campus or that students interested in Air Force or Navy ROTC will have to make a two-hour roundtrip to MIT in order to participate.
Brown does congratulate itself on allowing the current ROTC liaison use of an on-campus office. However, such a policy calls into question the corporation’s commitment to the cause of the transgender, i.e., the latest excuse for excluding ROTC. If the possibility of on-campus ROTC is too great an offense against Brown's nondiscrimination policy, why is an on-campus office or other such "enhanced opportunities" acceptable? The answer, of course, is money. As Simmons points out:
Since the military is a branch of the U.S. government, should the University refuse to accept any funding from a government that permits its military to have policies…that discriminate against transgender individuals? If we did so, the loss of federal financial aid would greatly diminish the opportunity for many students to enroll at Brown and the loss of federal research funds would cause many faculty to lose research support that enables extraordinary advances for society.
During his campaign, President Barack Obama pledged to "vigorously enforce" the Solomon Amendment. In his State of the Union speech, he called upon universities to recognize ROTC and "leave behind the divisive battles of the past." Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and Yale have all done so. Brown has not. It's time for President Obama to prove his support of ROTC is more than just cheap talk.