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More importantly, the committee report reveals that such a ban is a distinctly minority sentiment, at least among alumni and the current student body. A survey of alumni reveals that 60 percent are “strongly in favor” of having Brown host ROTC, while another 17 percent are “in favor” of bringing them back, a 77 percent pro-ROTC sentiment. The largest plurality of the current student body agrees, with 31 percent also favoring an on-campus presence, and another 10 percent favoring an off-campus presence, but with college credit for courses reinstated.
The faculty? The report notes that the faculty “had the opportunity to make their views on ROTC known through letters, emails, and various open meetings.” Two of those meetings occurred in April and May, and despite their “sparse” attendance, the committee noted that “antiwar sentiment continued to inform the views of several who spoke at the different open meetings.” In fairness, the report also said there were some faculty members who thought Brown should “support those who would carry out their civic duty through military service.”
But it is telling that the committee concluded that such meetings “rendered informal polling superfluous,” with respect to faculty sentiment. One would think students and alumni who invest considerable sums of money to attend and support the university are entitled to know where the faculty currently stands on the same military institutions they have kept off campus for nearly forty years.
Perhaps the committee inadvertently revealed the answer. After voting 6-4 in favor of President Simmons opening discussions with the Department of Defense, they recommended that the 1969 resolutions remain in effect, and that Brown continue its cross-institutional relationship with Providence College. Thus, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of alumni and the largest plurality of current students support the ROTC, the committee, and by extension the university, remains committed to the same worldview they had in 1969.
Thus, at Brown University we have come full circle. An anti-war movement engendering a series of resolutions which ultimately drove ROTC from campus in 1972 remains relevant. The subsequent rationale, banning gays from the military, has been removed, although a number of students, faculty and committee members now cite the banning of transgender persons from the services as a viable substitute for their ongoing disdain, saying it is more important that Brown honor the university’s anti-discrimination policy than allow ROTC back on campus. But it is impossible to ignore the prevalence of anti-war sentiment and hatred of the military that once again dominates the conversation.
“With $3 trillion spent on wars in the last decade, militarism has eaten away at the ability of the United States to care for its own people and has caused great suffering abroad,” said Derek Seidman, a visiting assistant professor of history.“The foremost issue is whether militarism should be expanded,” he added. “It seems absurd to me to bring it back in the midst of one of the most unpopular wars in our country’s history,” said Julie Pittman, a Brown senior and member of the Coalition Against Special Privileges for the ROTC. Brown professor emeritus Steve Babson, who opposes ROTC expansion of any kind due to “tragically misguided military policies for intervention abroad,” concurred. “I think [the administration] should be concerned,” he said. “I think if ROTC comes back to Brown it will be a lighting rod for protests. I have no doubt.”
Anti-war protests on a college campus? Reading between the lines of the committee report and its subsequent recommendations, one gets the sense of a Baby Boomer generation’s leftist elements still determined to nurse their anti-Vietnam War grudge, irrespective of the past or the present. Furthermore, they are equally determined to pass that contempt for the military onto subsequent generations.
Yet it is worth remembering that three million Asians from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos lost their lives as the result of America’s withdrawal of troops and funding from Vietnam, something leftists themselves characterized as a “victory.” In the face of the present terrorist threat, highlighted by the worst domestic attack in American history on 9/11, they remain equally oblivious, even as their standard-bearer in the White House has been dragged out of the anti-war sphere of influence by “events on the ground.”
Leftist at Brown can conjure up any excuses they wish for keeping ROTC off campus. But it takes a remarkable level of ideologically-induced myopia to ignore the fact that the one institution they hold in contempt is the very one that grants them the freedom to engage in the luxury of such contempt. Even the transgender rationale rings hollow: only a progressive could fail to recognize the hypocrisy of standing up for a campus non-discrmination policy with regard to transgenders, even as one makes every effort to discriminate against the military that protects them and every other American. More hypocrisy? Brown currently takes $10 million in funding from the Defense Department every year.
When they forfeit that money–for principle’s sake–maybe their self-righteousness can be taken seriously.
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