Michel: Bring back ROTC

According to a recent article in the News (“YCC to survey students on ROTC,” Oct. 15), YCC representatives will soon try to gauge how the student body feels about the potential return of ROTC to our campus. After reading that article, I wanted to be one of the first among my peers to speak out in favor of bringing ROTC back. I believe there are many students who feel as I do, and many reasons why the return of ROTC would benefit the Yale community.

Last year, as a senior in high school, my hardest decision was choosing between Yale and the United States Military Academy. Both Yale and the academy offer unique and unmatched opportunities to the young men and women who attend them. It was very difficult for me to choose between the desire to serve my country and the desire to receive a degree and education from arguably the best academic institution in the world. I am certain that mine was not a unique dilemma. Why can’t Yale offer an unmatched education coupled with the ability to serve one’s country in the military?

Yale prides itself on being an institution that encourages its students to explore any personal interest. Yet the ROTC program offered to Yale students, at the University of New Haven, is far off campus and is impractical for the majority of students. The effectiveness of this “solution” is evident: There are only four participants out of over 5,000 undergraduates. I do not believe that such low participation is due to lack of interest. Rather, it seems that the demands of being a full-time Yale student make traveling to another university to participate in ROTC nearly impossible. It is very difficult, and in many ways unfair, to ask students to restrict what classes they can take or what activities they can join because they have to travel off campus for training. Also, it is practically impossible for an athlete to participate in an off-campus program, regardless of how they might try to adapt their academic schedule. When I spoke with the head ROTC officer at Rutgers this past summer, he informed me that athletes are very prevalent in ROTC programs around the country, and I imagine this trend would be reflected at Yale if the program were on campus. An on-campus ROTC program could engage these athletes and work around their schedules, but unfortunately, a non-Yale ROTC program is less willing to make such personal accommodations.

More significantly, as an institution that has produced and continues to produce leaders in our nation, there is no reason to exclude military service from this tradition. I always feel somewhat hypocritical as I walk through Woolsey Hall and peer up at the ranks of former Yale students who gave their lives in military service to our country, knowing that today Yale does not allow interested students the opportunity to carry on the school’s long and honored history of military service. In a world where national security issues are becoming ever more imperative, I would hope that, as an institution, we would want our military leaders to benefit from the education and moral grounding that Yale offers. I would also note that one reason this country has a tradition of intellectual freedom, free speech and democracy is that, at dark hours in the past, there have been Americans, including Yale graduates or even students, that have been willing to stand up for those freedoms. Some of those Americans have been lawyers, politicians or energized citizens. Often, however, they have been military leaders willing to pay the ultimate price, if necessary, to defend the rights and freedoms we all hold dear.

I believe that the return of the ROTC program to Yale will only help to support the ideals that this community seeks to embrace. It is time for us to once again fulfill the core principles that are so clearly delineated in one of our University’s mottos: For God, for Country, and for Yale.

Rob Michel is a freshman in Trumbull College.

Comments

  • Summer

    Clearly you are a racist, misogynist, and homophobe.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    It’s quicker to drive to UNH than to walk to Science Hill. Can you bike two miles to serve your country? Walk (march) for 35 minutes or so? I don’t want to rub it in or anything, but UNH is about the same distance as the athletic fields, and plenty of students make it out there compelled by their pride, honor and sacrifice for such things as ultimate frisbee. So, strike that little argument from your next draft.

  • Summer

    > It’s quicker to drive to UNH than to walk to Science Hill. Can you bike two miles to serve your country?

    Ah, the “we don’t want your kind here – take it to the public school down the road” argument. The ugliness emerges as we realize what Yalies are really afraid of is a warrior culture that they cannot comprehend.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Everyone should be afraid of incomprehensible warrior cultures. By definition.

    This kid, though, seems afraid of walking two miles through New Haven to get to his ROTC. I have to admit, he’s likely to encounter some local incomprehensible warrior cultures along the way.

  • The Anti-Yale

    *fulfill the core principles that are so clearly delineated in one of our University’s mottos: For God, for Country, and for Yale.*

    **To which God do you refer? The God of Israel? Or the God of Palestine?**

  • Summer

    > Everyone should be afraid of incomprehensible warrior cultures. By definition.

    Why? And unless the definition of warrior is “that which one must be afraid of”, it is not “by definition”. More shoddy thinking from the humanities majors in the audience.

    > This kid, though, seems afraid of walking two miles through New Haven to get to his ROTC.

    The edge of the University of New Haven is a 45 minute walk from Yale’s campus according to Google Maps. Or is daddy going to pay for everyone’s cab fare now?

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Many, many soldiers travel farther than 2 miles to fulfill their daily obligations. Many soldiers who live *on a base* travel more than 2 miles to get to the *other side of the base* to fulfill their daily obligations. There are many shoddy thinking humanities grad students who walk 2 miles to come to the library every single day.

    The point: If our ROTC is going to be populated by people who can’t navigate 2 miles through a city, then our incomprehensible warrior culture leaves much to be desired.

    Larger point: The guy should have just skipped that lame argument stuck to the slightly less lame ones.

  • pablum

    >The ugliness emerges as we realize what Yalies are really afraid of is a warrior culture that they cannot comprehend.

    Says somebody whose way of starting the morning is by trolling the YDN comments sections.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    If we all had to walk 2 miles to troll the YDN … man, that would suck.

  • RexMottram08

    This is not primarily about logistics. If it were, Yale would probably just pay for mini-bus service to the nearest ROTC campus.

    This is about an American university, a recipient of significant federal funding and the beneficiary of the services of our military, refusing to allow ROTC on a politically-correct campus.

  • sy09

    ROTC is not banned on campus. See [The Myth of the ROTC Ban][1].

    [1]: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/opinion/25Mazur.html?_r=1 “The Myth of the ROTC Ban”

  • Summer

    > Says somebody whose way of starting the morning is by trolling the YDN comments sections.

    A troll attempts to disturb or otherwise provoke emotional response. I’m merely stating my opinion, and would be all the more happy if everyone agreed with me.

    > The point: If our ROTC is going to be populated by people who can’t navigate 2 miles through a city, then our incomprehensible warrior culture leaves much to be desired.

    The question remains, of course – as to why you are so intent on ensuring that Yale men and women who want to get involved in ROTC are forced to walk 5 miles every day merely to participate in this program. The “many soldiers walk X distance” argument is an obviously terrible one, since

    1) Virtually all ROTC participants do not walk 45 minutes each way to participate in the program
    2) Yale could easily ameliorate this problem at **no** cost to itself,
    3) Reducing the distance would increase recruitment, which is the primary goal of ROTC

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Texas A&M’s campus is 8 square miles.
    Virginia Tech: 4 square miles.

    You can look up the size of the other Senior Military Colleges (i.e., lots and lots of ROTC).
    Check out how large other ROTC universities are. If you live on one side of campus, you travel 2 miles to the other side for ROTC (or whatever). If you live off campus, you travel 5, 10, 15 miles.

    ROTC *is* offered to Yale students. You just have to go to UNH to do it. You don’t even need minibuses; just walk 2 miles and do the ROTC. Above all, do not whine that you feel like a loser who can’t serve his country because UNH is 2 miles away and you can’t figure out how to make that sacrifice. Service? Commitment? Sacrifice? Buy a bike. Use a city bus. Skateboarding is not a crime.

    Of course participating in ROTC, like participating in anything, will preclude you from participating in other things. Some people around here would like to play football, soccer, tennis and be on the crew team: you can’t. You can’t take two classes that meet at the same time. This is not Yale conspiring against you.

    Never mind that some physical components of this hypothetical Yale ROTC would likely take place at the athletic fields which are exactly as far away as UNH.

  • RexMottram08

    Freddy,

    The argument you are making and the argument Yale offers for the ROTC ban are not of the same substance.

  • Summer

    > Texas A&M’s campus is 8 square miles.

    You’ve obviously never been to Texas A&M’s campus. Although the campus is technically 8 square miles (I thought it was more, actually), main campus is much smaller.

    Also, if Freddy is so eager to see people participate in ROTC, it’s surprising that he so vigorously opposes allowing ROTC to recommence on Yale’s campus itself.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    @ RexMottram08

    I don’t disagree. But first things first! This op-ed letter, if I read it right, only says that (1) it’s too bad doing ROTC is so damn logistically hard and (2) suggests that Yale can only be conceptually complete again if it welcomes mother military back to its bosom. (1) I hope I’ve shown is not true. (2) is dubious at best, for more reasons than it’s possible to go into.

    Yalies can do ROTC if they want, and there doesn’t, at first glance, seem to be any broad desire to have ROTC on campus. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the crypto-ROTC movement is robust.

    The legal aspects are an entirely different matter.

    AND

    Okay, Summer, I give up. Let’s do ROTC together. Just make sure it’s in WLH so I can set my alarm 5 minutes before it starts and dash from Calhoun in my pajamas.

  • Summer

    @ Freddy –

    I’d have said yes, but I’m against Hounies on principle.

    Also, applied to West Point and got in. Parents convinced me not to go. Would have required me walking two miles a day or something.

  • RexMottram08

    > Yalies can do ROTC if they want, and
    > there doesn’t, at first glance, seem
    > to be any broad desire to have ROTC on
    > campus. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the
    > crypto-ROTC movement is robust.

    Anyone with the desire for an Ivy-League education and ROTC would likely not attend Yale. These are bright, accomplished, motivated students with other options in the marketplace of higher ed. The strong few who persist and matriculate here do so in spite of a PC animus towards the military.

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Semper Fi, Rex&Summer, Semper Fi.

    I’m happy as long a we all agree that Rob Michel’s letter would have benefited from several additional rounds of editing. In the Ivory Tower, you see, that’s tantamount to taking Iwo Jima.

  • bulldog09

    Good article Rob! I found it very convincing and it was clear that it came from the heart. It is sad that our wonderful institution is open to almost all interests and career opportunities, except the military. I got your point that it is not about the logistics of completing ROTC at UNH, but rather about the fact that by not having ROTC on campus Yale has failed to create an environment on campus conducive to students interested in serving in the military. Regardless of how easy it would be to find ROTC elsewhere, it should be offered at on-campus. Yale encourages its students to serve effectively in most sectors of society (politics, business, law, medicine etc.) and so I agree that it is a major shortcoming that our great University does not offer ROTC to those who want to serve their nation in uniform.

  • MohawkMonk87

    The distance argument misses the point. To not have the option present on-campus sends a clear message that ROTC is a thing of shame that needs to be kept physically seperated from the ivory tower and that to participate in the program goes against the social-cultural norms of the Yale student body. ROTC should be present, highly visible, and honored on campus. Its amazing that the vast majority of Yalies will graduate only to drop their feigned liberalism and ride the prestige of their brand-name in order to accumulate wealth via politics, law, finance… and yet they dont see that the military is the institution that defends their precious meal-ticket.

    Oh and PK, lets go with the God of Israel…

  • The Anti-Yale

    MM87:

    So the God of Israel advocates genocide in Deuteronomy 20:27. Is that the banner under which you want ROTC cadets “marching unto war”?

  • The Anti-Yale

    PS:
    King James Bible Deuteronomy 20:17
    **But thou shalt utterly destroy them; [namely], the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee**:

  • Jaymin

    @PK
    By God, we mean the god of the pastafarians, who is entirely peacemaking, so there is not need to worry.

  • MohawkMonk87

    Which brings me to my next point PK, we’re both affiliated to Yale via YDS, so for reasons which are obvious to both of us and probably to most undergraduates who have any background in Patristics or Biblical Interpretation I am unimpressed with your citation of one verse that is both left without context and without any sense of exegetical technique, that is to say you pontificate on what you think you know the verse to mean without telling us the logical process by which you arrived to you conclusion. I’d be willing to bet that none of the early church fathers (or any of the early rabbinic sources for that matter) actually took this as a precedent for slaughtering entire tribes on the basis of tribal identity… try allegory, try historical context, but dont cite one verse and expect me to do that work for you. You dishonor our forefathers in the discipline by citing this verse as though you’ve discovered something new and scandelous to the Christian Tradition, which has written enough materials on the difficult verses of the Old Testament to fill many a library.

    But in short yes, I absolutely want our soldiers to march under that banner.

  • Jaymin

    @MohawkMonk87

    Just because the early church fathers chose to ignore the violence present in Deuteronomy, it doesn’t mean that violent rhetoric doesn’t exist.

    If you want context, I’ll expand PK’s verse:

    “When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them–the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites–as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.”

    How exactly are we supposed to take this verse allegorically? At the very least, it calls for total warfare – leave no man alive, no woman unraped, no child unslaved, and no house unburnt. These really aren’t the moral guidelines that direct modern warfare.

  • The Anti-Yale

    No less an authority than Roland H. Bainton who spent 7 decades at Yale as student and teacher told me in person that that verse in Deuteronomy was a “prooftext for genocide” and that it illustrated the foolishness of biblical precedenting since, as Dr. Bainton said, “You can prove anything you want from the Bible.” Note : Dr. Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther “Here I Stand” is Abingdon Press’s all time best-seller.

    http://doctorbainton@blogspot.com

  • The Anti-Yale

    OOOPS ! Wrong URL

    I don’t know my own addresses: http://doctorbainton.blogspot.com

    TDr. Bainton was the only Ph.D at Yale addressed by the term “Doctor” rather than “Mr.” or “Ms.”, as a token of respect not only for the 39 books he published, but for his courage and kindness.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The point which Jaymin is too polite to make is this: the Bible (OT and NT) is full of hate speech, violent language, sado-masochistic imagery and in the end, eternal hellfire. Admittedly there is a “turn the other cheek” and “love thy neighbor’ thrown in there. But the mix is predominantly a terrible swift sword (not a terrible, swift, cooking spoon) and hellfire emanating from the words of a male patriarchal god.

    The result: Centuries of warrior males imitating violence, hatred and sado-masochsitic sports rituals.

    Cheery.

  • The Anti-Yale

    http://www.drury.edu/ess/eastern/ChthonicHomeric.html

    Patriarchy establishes law instead of custom; emphasizes military power instead of religious authority; and encourages the cunning and power of individual warriors, rather than the health or well-being of the group.