Paul’s Perambulations

October 6, 2009

My response to The R.O.T.C. Dilemma (New York Times 10/26/09)

Filed under: Peace,Politics — admin @ 7:24 pm

The following is a copy of my post on the Times website in response to R.O.T.C. Dilemma:

This article is heavily biased and in some cases badly misinformed. Please go back to some original sources of the period (not other newspaper articles). Most significantly, R.O.T.C. was never “banned” on most campuses in the 60’s. The requirement was that if R.O.T.C. was to give grades and academic credit, it must function under the academic regulations that applied to all the other academic programs of the University. Their alternative was to continue as they had been doing, but not for academic credit. This the military adamantly refused. They are a law unto themselves in higher education, and this is what we must question. My heartfelt concern is insuring educational integrity. Note that one cadet says “I have no personal opinion,” in response to a question about R.O.T.C., and the article’s author confirms that cadets are not free to express an opinion. Do we believe that this accords with the true purpose of a University education and is something we should encourage?

p.s. In my experience the folks I knew well in R.O.T.C. were fine individuals and had “chosen” to enter R.O.T.C. because they needed the scholarship money. Is this a good basis for a volunteer army? And what does it say about the value we place on education in this country?

2 Comments »

  1. I received the following email from one of my students regarding ROTC on campus. This is followed by my email replying to the student. His father is a physician, and I took this into account in my reply.

    Dr. Sheldon,
    I was reading the article on the banning on the ROTC programs and I was speaking with my father about it because he had already read it as well. In the end, I felt that although I do not see the benefit of ROTC on the peaceloving public, I am in no position to censor anything. I include even forms of self expression that I disagree with however suggestive so long as they do not directly (here physically) impact others.
    Thank you, T…

    Hi T….
    I agree completely not to censor in any way. What I disagree with is that they do not come under the academic regulations that apply to all other academic programs at Villanova. Are we censoring medical doctors if we require them to adhere to certain standards that apply to all medical doctors? Without exempting some and not others? My opinion is that ROTC can do whatever they want to, if it is not for credit. For any course material that is for credit, the University administers specific standards that now apply to everyone EXCEPT ROTC. ROTC might be good or bad, but there is nothing Villanova or other institutions can do about it in any case. What if we let anyone claim to be a medical doctor without any oversight? I’m sure we could point to some success stories, but that would not justify the process. On some campuses, ROTC exists but not for credit (they go off campus for credit if they wish and transfer that in). That is what Universities proposed in the 60′s and 70′s — simply to require them to come under the regulations that apply to every other academic program on campus. If they refused this, they were still welcome to continue as a non-credit program. Somehow, in the anger of the ’60s when ROTC was teaching all it’s students about how wonderful the Vietnam War was and restricting their freedom of speech to disagree, and the students on the other side were sometimes acting no better, they claimed to be “banned” from ever being on campus. THIS IS NOT SO; some do not know these facts, and some are lying. As an academic, I’m not sure which is worse (I abhor ignorance).

    Peace, Paul

    Comment by admin — January 11, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  2. Some time after my post, the NYTimes published an excellent article entitled “The R.O.T.C. Myth” fully corroborating what I said above and adding further facts and information establishing that ROTC was never kicked off campus. Read about this at the following link:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/opinion/25Mazur.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

    Comment by admin — November 13, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

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