For almost 40 years, military training has been effectively absent from the nation's most selective civilian universities. During the Vietnam protest movement, schools such as Brown, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale banned on-campus ROTC programs. This practice continued under evolving rationales, the most recent being Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). In March of 2006, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that these schools must allow the military full access. The Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) has yet to take advantage of this opportunity.
Part of the reason is that the NETC remains skeptical of the value of an Ivy League education. The Navy pays tuition costs for midshipmen, so near-term cost benefit analyses suggest that such ROTC programs are a waste of taxpayer dollars. As one high-ranking NETC official asked me, "Is a Yale-educated officer really worth five from Auburn?" The short answer is "Yes." That answer, however, has almost nothing to do with quality of education, and everything to do with our military's relationship to its civilian masters.