NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, currently embroiled in a national controversy over his decision to remove a Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flag from a former Naval Militia Armory in the City, has a long history of animosity towards veterans and the United States armed forces that goes back to his college days at Harvard University.
Bramson began his political career serving on the Harvard Undergraduate Council, the subject of ongoing research by New Rochelle resident Ken Lewis who shared the results of his work with Talk of the Sound.
As Vice-Chair of the council in 1989, Bramson supported the Anti-ROTC Action Committee (ARAC) which opposed the presence of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Harvard, according to an article from the Harvard Crimson.
ROTC, which was restricted to the status of an extracurricular by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1969, held a full drill in Harvard Hall on Wednesday.
The article went on to quote Bramson:
"There are no grounds for thinking ROTC will be back at Harvard," said former council vice chair Noam Bramson '90-91. "It's my understanding that the administration would only consider bringing ROTC back if there was no sufficient sign of student protest, but clearly last year's demonstrations demonstrated that concern," Bramson said.
"His disdain for our Veterans today can be seen in his steadfast desire to wipe out our Naval Armory and challenge anyone in his path, said Lewis. "Flag or no flag for me this is a huge red flag."
With the state government deadlocked in a budget battle as the legislative calendar draws to a close, Mayor Noam Bramson is working with the four state representatives of New Rochelle in Albany to sneak through last minute legislation authorizing the City of New Rochelle to tear down the Naval Armory in New Rochelle.
Six months earlier, the Harvard Undergraduate Council has erupted in controversy over whether to allow the ROTC back onto the Harvard campus, with Bramson at the center of it:
Many council members said that the disruption of Sunday's meeting was an isolated event. Several said that future councils should try to inform the student body of upcoming votes on controversial issues, rather than changing meeting procedures.
Vice Chair Noam Bramson '91 said that the disruption was inevitable, given the nature of the debate.
"I can't imagine it not [getting] out of hand,"Bramson said. He added that the debate "over-all went rather well," and that there was "no reason to change anything."
Last Sunday, Lee said that he did not intend to change the council's procedures.
At Monday's meeting, the two committees also considered putting controversial issues like ROTC's return before a binding student referendum. But most members in attendance said that such amove would be unnecessary because the council had already declared the original resolution unconstitutional.
Before the council gets a chance to vote on tabling the ROTC issue, they will meet to discuss a more immediate concern--the Suzanne Vega concert scheduled at Bright Center this Saturday night.
"Back then in Harvard the young Noam Bramson could have chosen not to join the ROTC but he chose to make sure no one else could either," said Lewis. "Some students use ROTC as a means of assistance in paying for College tuition while some have an overwhelming desire to Patriotism or to service to our Country. Some have had parents who have served in one branch or the Military and they want the right to experience ROTC as a means of honoring those who came before served our Nation and gave us our freedoms. Bramson chose to be sure that option was not available to Harvard students and I believe this helps us understand his feeling towards our Service Men and Women both Past, Present and Future."
Some have questions why Mayor Bramson participates in the City's events to honor veterans, organized by Mr. Parente and the United Veterans, given his disdain for military service.