Going for the Gold: Harvard to Reluctantly Accept Recruiters from United States Military

Harvard Reluctantly Accepts Military Recruiters on Campus

Harvard University certainly has not, in recent memory, been known as a bastion of traditional American values. It still isn’t. For those who may be concerned, be assured the rarefied air in Cambridge is still pure or at least as politically correct as administrators at one of America’s premier universities can make it.

Harvard banned the military’s ROTC during the Vietnam war. In a surprising announcement, Harvard will now allow U.S. military recruiters on its campus.

In the wake of September 11 and the surge of patriotism throughout the country, you may have thought that the move was generated by a desire to support the nation’s fight against terrorism or in some limited way supporting those that have fought to guarantee the freedom necessary to pursue intellectual pursuits at places like Harvard. But you can put those fleeting thoughts aside.

While not wanting appear to support the military or be associated with the surge of patriotism, Harvard is indeed moved by its desire for federal money. Apparently the Department of Defense has informed the university that it won’t get more than 300 million in Federal funds if it doesn’t allow the recruiters to talk to the blue bloods walking around Harvard Yard. The $300 million or so is about 16% of the budget for the school.

As you can tell from the Dean’s personal agony felt by this decision outlined in the memo available from the side link to this article, allowing armed forces recruiters has caused consternation and agony in the ivied halls.

The law school really dislikes the military’s policy of "don’t ask, don’t tell" when it comes to dealing with gays in the American Armed Forces. So the Dean of the Law School, Robert C. Clark, issued a notice that "I believe the overwhelming majority of the Law school community opposes any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation. At the same time, most of us reluctantly accept the reality that this University cannot accept the loss of federal funds."

Those cringing at the thought of the University’s plunge into the depths of commonality (or being perceived as veering from the path of politically correct actions) were assured by an Associate Dean that the action had little to do with supporting the men and women defending America’s freedom and was based on the unfortunate need for the University to continue receiving money from the government.

But those relatively few Harvard grads who served in America’s military will also be relieved to know that the Dean tried hard to cover all bases. In addition to his primary concerns about money (after informing readers the law school itself doesn’t get much federal largesse) and the military’s personnel policies, Dean Clark did add the thought "I am convinced that military service is both honorable and essential to the well being of our country."

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47