ROTC returns

Plaudits to the state's Ivy League institution, Yale University, for bringing the ROTC back on campus. Yale President Richard Levin and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed the agreement Thursday that establishes the Naval ROTC's presence on the New Haven campus for the first time since the early 1970s.

Harvard University welcomed back the Reserve Officers Training Corp in March.

At the height of the Vietnam War and the corresponding student protests calling for an end to both the war and the draft, some of the nation's most prestigious universities ordered ROTC units off campus.

In time, ROTC returned to many campuses, but not all, including Yale University. A few Yale students participated in ROTC but had to train at other colleges, which is certainly no way to encourage involvement. Yale and other universities made the cogent argument that the prohibition against homosexuals serving openly in the military conflicted with their anti-discriminatory policies.

With the repeal by Congress of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, homosexuals are now allowed to serve their country without having to cover up or lie about their sexual orientation. Given that change, it was time for the universities to change, too. Any continued prohibition against ROTC could only be viewed as anti-military.

The country will benefit by having ROTC again recruiting at the nation's top universities. ROTC graduates constitute 56 percent of Army officers, 41 percent of Air Force officers, 20 percent of Navy officers and 11 percent of Marine Corps officers, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.

The legislation repealing "don't ask, don't tell" gave a not-so-gentle push with the inclusion of a provision requiring a report to Congress on the enforcement of the law that prohibits federal funds to colleges that block ROTC units.

Whatever the motivations - fairness or fear of losing federal funding, or both - the decision to welcome back ROTC is the right one.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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