WASHINGTON – Senator Scott Brown today strongly criticized Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust for comments published in the Globe in which Faust said the university would continue barring ROTC from campus unless the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is revoked.
Brown contrasted Faust’s position on ROTC with her recent advocacy for looser immigration rules, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military.
“Harvard President Faust has been lobbying on Capitol Hill in support of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants attending college. Harvard has its priorities upside down,” the Massachusetts Republican said in a statement. “They should embrace young people who want to serve their country, rather than promoting a plan that provides amnesty to students who are in this country illegally.”
“I am extremely disappointed to learn of Harvard University’s decision to continue to ban ROTC from its campus,” he added. “It is incomprehensible to me that Harvard does not allow ROTC to use its facilities, but welcomes students who are in this country illegally.”
It was a rare broadside from one state’s highest-profile politicians, targeting its most prominent university.
A Harvard spokesman said this afternoon that the university “very much want[s] to make sure that all young people living in our communities can serve in the military.”
“President Faust has said many times that she very much looks forward to the day when the opportunity to pursue military service will be available to all our students who have the ability and the desire to serve,” said John Longbrake, an assistant vice president at the university. “Individual Harvard students continue to serve proudly in the ROTC through a longstanding consortium arrangement with MIT and other local colleges and universities, and President Faust is deeply grateful to them for their service to our country.”
Faust -- along with presidents of Tufts, Boston University, Northeastern, MIT, Boston College, UMass Boston, and the University of Massachusetts system – sent a letter this week to Brown and Senator John F. Kerry urging them to vote for the so-called Dream Act. Faust also came to Washington last week to advocate for the bill, bringing an immigrant student who was detained in June for being in the United States illegally from Mexico.
The legislation would create a path to legal residency for youths who arrived before they turned 16; have lived in the United States for five consecutive years; and have no criminal record. In order to become citizens, they would have to graduate from high school or obtain a GED, complete two years in college or the military, and be under 35 years old.
Critics say that it would reward immigrant families who came to the country illegally, and say it lacks the comprehensive provisions to crack down on illegal immigration.
Brown has been opposed to it, calling the plan “amnesty” and politically motivated. Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, has been a strong proponent.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was pushing to attach the Dream Act to a defense appropriations bill. The issue never came up for a vote because Republicans, including Brown, blocked the bill from coming to the floor. The defense authorization bill also included a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy also came up earlier this year when Brown met with Elana Kagan, who moved to bar military recruiters when she was dean of Harvard Law School. Brown said he was satisfied with her explanation at the time, but later voted against her nomination as Supreme Court justice because he said she didn’t have enough judicial experience.
The university expelled the ROTC program from campus in 1969 amid protests against the Vietnam War. Faust said yesterday the only reason it is still barred is "entirely linked to 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.