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NEW: President Reaffirms Brown’s ROTC Policy

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


In a letter to the University community today, Brown President Ruth J. Simmons accepted the recommendations made by the Committee on the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) to maintain opportunities for interested students to participate in ROTC through an existing program with Providence College, and to discuss expanding opportunities for participation with the U.S. Department of Defense. She also called on the University community to work for the elimination of discrimination against transgender persons that excludes them from serving in the armed services.

Simmons released her response to the committee’s report as the Corporation of Brown University, the University’s governing body, arrives in Providence for its October meeting. The Corporation will consider the issue during meetings and discussion sessions, which conclude Saturday.

Simmons’ response follows a broad and inclusive campus discussion of the committee’s report, which was released to the campus earlier this semester. Simmons affirmed the committee’s recommendations:

That the faculty’s resolutions in 1969 remain sound and should govern the University’s consideration of the ROTC issue. Those resolutions defined ROTC as an extra-curricular activity rather than an academic program and did not extend faculty status to ROTC instructors solely on their involvement with ROTC.
That Brown’s current participation in the Army ROTC program at Providence College should remain in place, providing ROTC training for Brown students.
That Brown should engage in discussions with the Department of Defense to learn how Brown students might engage in Naval or Air Force ROTC training that is not currently available to them.
That any proposal for expanding ROTC opportunities be brought before the faculty for its consideration.

Simmons acknowledged valid and passionate arguments on both sides of the ROTC issue, affirming the University’s signature approach to addressing differences through thorough campus engagement.

“In my view, while there are many varying perspectives on ROTC and on Brown’s engagement with the military, two aspects of this debate emerge clearly,” Simmons wrote. “The first is that, consistent with its stated policy of anti-discrimination, Brown should take a stand against discrimination against transgender individuals by the military. … At the same time, it is just as essential that Brown recognize and accept its responsibility to support and serve the country by educating leaders for the military who understand the importance of such values to a nation that can only be held together by mutual respect and persistent attention to matters of justice and equality.”

In endorsing the recommendations of the committee’s report and recommendations, she reiterated her support for a fundamental principle that has been central to the campus discussion, indicating that decisions related to the curriculum and academic credit rest with the faculty, saying that the University should, “… explore with the Department of Defense whether, under existing academic policies at Brown, opportunities may be created for Brown students to participate in additional cross-institutional ROTC programs elsewhere.”

Simmons also wrote, “The question of whether there must be an ROTC unit on the campus is, in my view, less the nub of the question than whether the University understands and acknowledges its role as a national university in participating in the development of leaders for the country, including its military. Brown should not isolate itself by barring or denigrating participation in ROTC programs or the military,” Simmons wrote. “… The presence or not of an ROTC unit on the campus is not a litmus test for Brown’s commitment to serve the country loyally and honorably.”

Simmons convened the Committee on the Reserve Officers Training Corps in January 2011 and charged it with reviewing Brown’s policies on ROTC, listening to campus debate and opinion, and formulating a set of recommendations. Members of the committee included Katherine Bergeron, dean of the College (chair); Leslie Bostrom, professor of visual art; Andrew G. Campbell, associate professor of medical science; Catherine Lutz, professor of anthropology Kenneth Miller, professor of biology; Robert Pelcovits, professor of physics; Philip Rosen, professor of modern culture and media; Thomas Webster, associate professor of engineering; Chaney Harrison, undergraduate student, Class of ’11.5; Samuel Howard, undergraduate student, Class of ’14; and Sean Dinces, graduate student, American studies. Stephen Lassonde, deputy dean of the College, served as staff to the committee.


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I'm sure President Simmons will soon be sending back all the federal grant and contrect money that Brown gets. After all, it would hardly be ethical to refuse to host ROTC, and at the same time accept millions in fed dollars. Or am I missing something here?

Comment #1 by Michael Trenn on 2011 10 19

But, as a Board member, she was all for the Goldman Sachs Food Index, a major cause of widespread starvation in Africa.

Comment #2 by John McGrath on 2011 10 20

I get it: Nuance!

Comment #3 by Michael Trenn on 2011 10 20

Translation: Brown is willing to give its' students the same "equal" opportunities so long as the ROTC program itself remains "separate" from Brown's campus.

Hmm...so what's so wrong about "separate but equal"? It worked at the University of Mississippi until a former Navy officer by the name of John F. Kennedy sent in troops to protect James Meredith as he integrated 'Ole Miss. And it worked at Little Rock Central until a former General by the name of Dwight Eisenhower had to go ahead and send in Army troops to integrate Little Rock. Seems to me like Brown is doing a great job following a historical precedent.

Rather ironically, Brown's policy would have kept the leaders who brought about racial integration, along with the soldiers who protected the safety of the first black students to integrate the South's educational systems, from receiving on-site military education at Brown.

Comment #4 by Joe Penkala on 2011 10 20

She has no problem letting her friends at the New York so-called investment banks recruit on campus. You know, the ones who waged war on on honest business dealings and the American people and devastated Afro-American homeowners. But the fact that she gets over $450,000 a year from Goldman Sachs for sitting on its irresponsible Board has nothing to do with how much she loves those so-called banks (in reality speculative trading houses).

Comment #5 by John McGrath on 2011 10 20


Shame on you, Ruth Simmons.


Comment #6 by Charles Drago on 2011 10 21


To clarify my point above: Shame on Ruth Simmons for not barring ALL ROTC activities -- whether on or off her campus.

Comment #7 by Charles Drago on 2011 10 21

Ruth Simmons continues to demonstrate her lack of leadership, personal courage and strategic vision with her decision to continue the 1969 ban on ROTC.
Brown is destined to remain the most irrelevant Ivy League Institution in respect to developing the future leaders of America. This is a tremendous opportunity cost for Brown to develop military leadership human capital.
Once again Brown I derelict in its societal obligation to educate the future leaders of this nation.
The stench of hypocrisy in Brown's so-called "open" curriculum and commitment to “diversity” is more pungent than ever.

How can Brown claim to promote academic freedom and critical thinking when it bars military educational courses from its campus? Imagine, somehow military value based courses on cultural awareness, effective communications, ethics, decision making and leadership are somehow "antithetical to Brown’s open approach to learning, teaching and research". The stench now appears to resemble bovine fecal matter.

What appears to be "antithetical to Brown’s open approach to learning, teaching and research" is engaging in critical thinking that is not part of the Brown Academia "Group Think".

Brown claims to promote diversity, yet it discriminates against the 1% of this nation’s population willing to defend the freedoms Brown hypocritically claims to support.

When it comes to ROTC Brown suppresses its students’ rights to freely associate with and affiliate.

Brown's continued ban openly disenfranchises its student body and denies them to equal access to the benefits and opportunities of ROTC.

What could be the rational explanation for Ruth Simmons and her faculty and administration to continue to oppress those students wishing to participate in ROTC?

It is obvious that the thought of military service is foreign to them. Maybe having students conducting military training on their campus makes them feel uncomfortable.

Discomfort and ignorance is no excuse for bigotry and prejudice against those who wish to serve. Two wrongs do not make a right.

The Federal government should immediately pull all sources of federal funding to Brown.

Sounds like legitimate grounds for an "Occupy Brown University" movement to me -

Paul Dulchinos
Lt. Col, US Army (ret.)
Former Professor of Military Science for
Brown University in Exile

Comment #8 by Paul Dulchinos on 2011 10 21

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