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Will your college student get lured in by ROTC?

June 1, 2011 |  1:29 pm

ROTC In a Dec. 30 editorial, the board wrote that colleges may now welcome Reserve Officer Training Corps units back to campus in light of the revocation of "don’t ask, don’t tell," which effectively banned openly gay service members from the military. They saw the possible move as progress:

Colleges that forbade discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation understandably were reluctant to allow an organization that explicitly engaged in such discrimination to operate on campus.

As a result, however, the gap between America's elite universities and its largely poor and minority military grew ever wider, with unhappy implications for society as a whole. [...]

ROTC may not be right for every university campus -- indeed, interest at some schools is so low that the military itself may not want to return to them. But it highlights the significance of ending the ban that the nation's military and social values no longer collide. That alone is progress.

The board's prediction turned out to be true. Stanford faculty voted late in April to allow the group back on campus while Harvard, Yale and Columbia are set to re-establish units, writes Larry Gordon in news story from Wednesday’s pages.

In addition to the repeal of DADT, Gordon’s article points to possible explanations as to why the ROTC program, which has already increased its number of participants 27% over the last four years, may find renewed success on college campuses.

ROTC offers financial aid to students, much needed among many in today’s financial climate:

ROTC scholarships can be worth as much as $43,000 a year at expensive schools; all recipients must then serve four years in the armed forces, with four more in the reserves.

College students are living in a post-9/11 world, which has influenced their perspective:

Today's college students, who never faced a military draft and whose childhood memories include the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are more receptive than their parents' generation to seeing fellow students in uniform.

Young people have an updated view of veterans

Returning veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now enrolled in college also create a more sympathetic, and familiar, image of the military. […]

“We are putting a face on the military, showing that we are not some faceless, heartless machine, that we are individual human beings and that we are doing this for a variety of reasons," said Jimmy Ruck, a 21-year-old Stanford senior and Army ROTC cadet from Millbrae, Calif.

ALSO:

Protecting our military dogs

A U.S. military worth saluting

It's time to get out of Afghanistan

Given economic changes, is college worth it?

A note to recent college grads: Get over yourselves

-- Julia Gabrick

Photo: ROTC enrollment officer Michael Pope speaks with Kaitlyn Benitez-Strine, 17, at Stanford. Credit: Dave Getzschman / For The Times

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