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Banning the Military By: Scott E. Rutter
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, January 16, 2006

I am deeply saddened and disgusted by academia’s increasingly hostile attitude toward the military. That professors and school administrators would deny students employment and character-building opportunities is both unacceptable and despicable. From California to Massachusetts, there is a wave in “higher education” to ban military recruiters in schools and to bar participation in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). I have seen firsthand how our servicemen are belittled and insulted on the college campus.

Warren County Community College in New Jersey gained nationwide notoriety when an adjunct professor on campus told a student that “Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors.” This occurred before I was scheduled to address the school on “Iraq: The Untold Story.” While delivering a similar speech at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, I was accosted by campus-wide hecklers pounding bongo drums and denouncing me as a war criminal. I wish I could say that these were isolated instances, but as a veteran of the War on Terror and frequent college lecturer, I have become acquainted with a new battlefront: the war against the military.


While the Supreme Court is set to vote on whether colleges and universities can prohibit military recruiters on campus and tap into federal coffers, I argue that allowing a ban is disastrous to nurturing the next generation of military leaders and pejoratively stigmatizes students dedicated to the ROTC. Unless college officials believe that their school is impervious to a terrorist attack or that terrorism will magically go away by reducing the number of those committed to fighting against it, these officials should look to strengthen student involvement in the military.


Administrators and professors justify their war against the military and ROTC by erroneously claming that recruiters are aggressive and overbearing. They also claim that the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” doesn’t mesh with school policy. Such a stance, however, makes college officials ideologues, not educators. Academic institutions have a duty to introduce their students to a wide variety of views and truths of life. In the real world, one course available to students is the military.


Specifically, the ROTC provides students with means to reduce their student debt and develop a sense of duty and country that supercedes the everyday ‘need’ for the largest HDTV or the most expensive car.  With college tuitions raising precipitously, the ability to offset these costs are even more necessary.


While there are many benefits for the ROTC member, there are even greater benefits to our country.  Initiated during the Civil War and further formalized after the Spanish-American War of 1898, ROTC was formally established by the National Defense Act of 1916. The ability to attract and retain bright, young leaders is important to the strength and vitality of the military.  Many of the students at these schools have the drive and ambition to develop new strategies, ideas and technologies to protect this nation.  The ability to attract ROTC candidates provides diversity that is necessary for effective leadership.  Some of our greatest leaders started in an ROTC program: Colin Powell, Sam Walton, Lou Holtz, George Marshall and Donald Rumsfeld and innumerable business and civic leaders.  Many legislators blabber about the poor and underprivileged being the only ones to serve, but it is elite institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford that prevent the military from speaking with those fortunate to attend higher education.


To rhapsodize that the military discriminates is a cheap copout, is destructive to producing men and woman dedicated to America’s defense, and is unconstitutional (Congress shall have power to raise and support armies).  Future military leaders cultivated through programs such as ROTC will only strengthen our armed forces. College is not a kindergarten club. If students don’t want to speak with recruiters or join the ROTC, they can make that decision. Administrators and professors do their students a disservice by treating them as phlegmatic and docile, shielding them from the multiple choices that reality has to offer.

Thankfully, I had the choice to join the ROTC at age 18.  It was one of the best decisions I made and had that opportunity not been on my campus, I might never have had such a rewarding and successful life. Our nation’s schools should afford students the same opportunity.

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U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Scott E. Rutter, a speaker for Young America’s Foundation, is a Philadelphia native and a highly decorated combat commander from both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. He is a former Senior Intelligence Officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency. In addition to his deployments in the Middle East he served forward deployed in South Korea from 1997 until 1999.

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