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Obama and R.O.T.C.

1:40 PM, Feb 9, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Kenneth Harbaugh writes in the New York Times:

SINCE the Vietnam War, R.O.T.C. programs have been banned from operating on campus at elite universities like Yale and Harvard. These institutions have also long hindered the military's efforts to recruit their students. But in March 2006, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the military must be allowed back on all campuses. The door is open. More important, the students themselves are ready.

I recently taught a course on the obligations of citizenship at Yale, where I also spent three years as a law student. If my university holds some prejudice against military service, its students, in my experience, don't seem to.

The student-run Yale Political Union recently approved a resolution to invite R.O.T.C. back on campus. Several pro-military organizations have sprung up, including the Semper Fi Society, which helps undergraduates become Marine Corps officers.

While it is true that few of the students I taught will ever serve in uniform, part of the reason is that no one has bothered to ask them to. To change that, our new commander in chief should order the military to activate new R.O.T.C. units. Then President Obama should direct it to step up in-person recruiting efforts on these campuses.

Read the whole thing.

In September, when Barack Obama was asked at a forum on public service if he supported R.O.T.C. at Columbia University, he said:

the notion that young people here at Columbia or anywhere, in any university, aren't offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake.

Hopefully the president follows up on those words by taking the actions Harbaugh proposes in his op-ed today. The sooner, the better.