June 3, 2005

ROTC at Dartmouth

The results of a recent SA poll on the ROTC are in. There were 686 respondents.

96.4% know that we have an Army ROTC program. 79.2% support having this program, 16% do not.
The campus is split on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with 48.1% saying its unfair, and 45.6% fair.
When asked if seeing people in camouflage makes them uneasy, 24% said yes, 75% no.
Half the campus has a positive impression of ROTC, and nearly 40% is neutral.
Here's the important ones: 69% of Dartmouth students believe the administration should do more to help students who chose to participate in ROTC, and 40% would consider joining the ROTC if Dartmouth offered a full four-year scholarship.

Previous administrations tried to axe the ROTC program, which is why its in its current state. Dartmouth, unlike our peer institutions, does not provide ROTC students full scholarships, and has I think only 8 cadets. Harvard has 40, Princeton 60.

The Vietnam-era logic of expelling ROTC from campuses was in the same vein as anti-draft and anti-recruitment protests. The war was bad, the military was bad, and so ROTC was bad. Furthermore, people claimed that the presence of ROTC inhibited free exchange of ideas. Current logic centers on Don't Ask Don't Tell, and opposition to legislation that says the DOD shouldn't grant money to anti-ROTC institutions.

I don't support the Iraq war, or Don't Ask Don't Tell. But expelling the ROTC is idiotic, and there is lot to be gained for the college and society if elite institutions support ROTC programs. They don't in any way stifle debate at this campus, nor do I see how they would. If a student chooses to join the army, that's his choice. If Dartmouth can play a role in putting intelligent, liberal, open-minded people in the army, then there is good reason to support the program. If a student chooses Duke or Georgetown over Dartmouth because their ROTC programs provide full scholarships, then we have missed out on a unique human being. The Wright administration has chosen to ignore the ROTC entirely, hence the program dwindling to where it is.

Dartmouth should give ROTC students full scholarships, and, if a Dartmouth applicant is as qualified as the rest of admitted students, I believe ROTC students should be given a slight advantage. Dartmouth will attract more low-income students, more students with a unique perspective on policy issues, and as a current Dartmouth ROTC cadet says, unjust military policies "will never change unless intrepid and valiant soldiers enter the Army and make the Army change it. Yelling from the sidelines never did much good."

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