January 16, 2002
Inside the Beltway
Political tidbits and other shenanigans from around the nation's capital.
Observing its 65th reunion, Yale's Class of 1937 has issued a call for the ROTC — banned at Yale since the Vietnam war — to be restored to the campus.
"The new threat of a long, continuing [anti-terrorism] struggle confronting our nation," is the reason given by class secretary Rynn Berry, who with his surviving classmates is dedicating this year's reunion milestone to the memory of the 514 Yale men, and other Americans, who died in World War II.
Albert Bildner, a former Navy ROTC member in the Class of '37, points out that today's world and its inhabitants, "including the Yale faculty and students, are notably different in spirit and temperament than those of the late 1960s, when Yale banned the ROTC program in the throes of the Vietnam war.
"But, 40 years later, it is a more dangerous world," he says. "There is a need for ROTC at Yale, particularly after the surprise attack by Osama bin Laden, fueled by an ideology which sees the United States and Western culture as it mortal enemy."
Mr. Bildner adds rather bluntly: "Yale should not expect other people to carry the burden of defending the country while Yale students do nothing in defense of the United States."
Advocates for restoring the ROTC on the Connecticut campus recall a rich and storied affiliation between the American military and Yale, which offered thriving ROTC detachments of every service. But the program was expelled from the campus in 1969 after Yale's faculty voted to revoke credit for ROTC courses.
At present, Yale students wishing to participate in the ROTC do so at the University of Connecticut, a 90-minute drive each way. "Perhaps worse," Mr. Berry charges, "Yale accepts ROTC dollars, but refuses to grant credit for ROTC courses."
(Today, the Yale faculty continues to make political waves; 171 of its faculty members last year opposed giving President Bush, a Yale alumnus himself, an honorary degree because they felt it came too early in his tenure. It apparently didn't bother them that Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy were all offered honorary Yale degrees during their first years as president.
(In fact, the same faculty that last year shunned Mr. Bush for being a newcomer saw no problem inviting freshman New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak during the 2001 commencement weekend.)
John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202-636-3284 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.