Donald Downs asks whether ROTC and military-strategic studies “enhance the civic and liberal education of nonmilitary students“:
Tensions between the military and the university are hardly new or surprising; after all, the two institutions embrace different cultures, procedures, and purposes. But they managed to coexist in a dynamic tension until the antiwar movement of the 1960s severed the relationship at many colleges, opening a gap that persists to this day. Consider that Brown, Columbia, the California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale have all forsaken ROTC, and that the programs at Cornell and Princeton have not attracted large numbers of students over the years. (Those programs also draw cadets from nearby campuses.)
In recent years, student groups at some Ivy League universities have launched campaigns to bring ROTC back to their campuses. These initiatives are often coordinated with an umbrella alumni organization, Advocates for ROTC, which has worked behind the scenes and occasionally in more public ways to cajole members’ respective alma maters to restore ROTC to universities where it no longer operates, and to strengthen the program where it exists in a weakened form.
His answer is a firm “yes”, with four points that bolster his case. The article is worth a careful read. I can definitely support his view that challenging the basic assumptions of an institution is a way to improve that institution. The presence of ROTC on university campuses could challenge and improve in both directions.
ALSO: I understand the rationale for wanting ROTC off-campus, but I think the challenge and cross-pollination is more important than separating soldiers from the world of ideas. In addition to fighting, the military inculcates discipline, leadership values, and ideals of respect. To preach inclusion without attempting to understand what motivates one to join and serve is the height of hypocrisy.