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Raising the flag on ROTC at Columbia

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

The Columbia Spectator has devoted a full spread to the issue of ROTC on campus. The pieces are all terrific, particularly this spirited essay from Barnard’s first ROTC cadet:

At my class graduation (I walked this past spring), Meryl Streep spoke about the public’s appreciation for today’s aggressive female leaders. Barnard College is an educational institution that prides itself on developing female leaders. As the first student cadet from Barnard to complete the Army ROTC program, I will soon be the first officer of the U.S. Army from Barnard College. Americans recognize the importance of military service to protect the freedom of our country. The value of ROTC leadership training is resulting in unprecedented increases in program participation all across the country. I’m proud to have taken the first step at Barnard and believe others will surely follow.

But what particularly caught my eye was this news article about the myriad difficulties cadets have participating in ROTC–such as getting into dorms early for their orientation or receiving Physical Education credit. Columbia administrators say they’re willing to make these accommodations for ROTC students.

As Michael Segal notes in the comments, there’s a straightforward solution here: Columbia might appoint a coordinator to help ROTC cadets navigate all the bureaucracy. Yale, for example, employs an adviser for ROTC cadets, Jerry Hill, who helps organize events, publicize scholarship opportunities, and helps students with logistics such as transportation to their training sites.

P.S. The Harvard Crimson editorializes in favor of ROTC.

Image from Army Cadet Command.