The conversion of the former Fort Ord into Cal State Monterey Bay (CSUMB) left students and faculty with daily reminders of what it is like to live on a military base. Old barracks serve as dorms and offices, and soldiers’ murals line the walls of buildings. Yet, with these constant reminders of the way things used to be, CSUMB is sadly lacking an important connection to its military past: on-campus ROTC, or Reserve Officer Training Corps, programs.
It would be wrong to assume the connection to Fort Ord is the only reason ROTC would be an appropriate addition to campus life. In addition to being a great way to become more involved in campus life and make new friends, ROTC gives students the opportunity to begin serving their country through an available branch of the military. In addition, ROTC may offer financial assistance to those who would otherwise have no way to pay tuition. The benefits of joining ROTC are clear, but remain unavailable for students of CSUMB.
The lack of any comparable program has been noted by students and professors alike. Students such as Jarrett McAdams, who chose to join other military programs while attending CSUMB, could instead be earning military and college credits if an ROTC program was established on campus. Instead, McAdams is denied any possible ROTC scholarships, and must enroll in separate programs to achieve his goals.
Dr. David Anderson, Global Studies Professor and member of the Fort Ord Alumni Association, believes adding ROTC to CSUMB’s campus could be valuable in recruiting diverse and hard-working students. He sees ROTC as “a source of funding for the students” and as a way to allow students to avoid costly loans while simultaneously working towards a future in the United States Military.
To opponents of the ROTC program, and those who feel bringing ROTC to our campus is the same as encouraging students to fight, it would be prescient to consider the words of the chairman of Brown Alumni for ROTC Jonathan Hillman: “This is not the militarization of education, it is civic engagement 101.”
By bringing military experts into the classroom, you are allowing students to become more involved in the real-world applications of what they are learning in their classrooms. History comes alive and foreign culture is realized when students are exposed to someone who has lived and worked in a military capacity somewhere else in the world. It is an experience that shouldn’t be denied to anyone who knows that the military can make a positive difference
in their lives.
Former opposition by students and faculty should become a thing of the past. Everyone who lives and works each day in the buildings of the former Fort Ord, and feels connected to those who once served here, deserves a chance to better themselves and work towards their potential future as men and women of the United States Military. If even one student who believes his or her life path lies with the military is denied the option of going to school while training to be an officer, it is an affront to everything this University stands for.
Even though the campus was founded on “Peace Dividend” ideals which celebrate a decrease in defense spending, CSUMB also proclaims to be a “welcoming and inclusive community” proud to “celebrate our unity as well as our differences.” Why, then, can’t the aspiring soldiers and future peacemakers respect each other’s decisions, and collectively decide to allow everyone an opportunity to make a future for themselves? Until students are allowed to choose independently how to shape their futures, which, unless I’m mistaken, is the entire point of going to a University in the first place, there will always remain a feeling of disconnection between the students and the surrounding community.