Monday, January 30, 2012
Liberal arts colleges around the country are debating whether ROTC should be allowed on campus. In many cases, it’s a question of allowing ROTC to return, after general disaffection with the military during the Vietnam War drove ROTC from many colleges. We’re more than a generation away from that era, and it’s time for colleges to welcome ROTC. While we can debate the wisdom of American involvement in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we cannot seriously dispute that the U.S. military is essential to our national security. American college students should have the option of being involved in that vital piece of society, and not spend their college years in a falsely sanitized world.
I was in college during the Vietnam War. I demonstrated against the war, but even as I did so I was uneasy with the economic and racial disparities between those who served and those who did not. And the disparities of the 1970’s are nothing like today’s, now that we have an all-volunteer military. The divides within our society reflected in our troops are all too apparent in our national life, but the country’s liberal arts colleges can help ease them by creating opportunities for students to become well integrated with various endeavors – liberal arts education, technical education, civilian service and military service. The time of the ivory tower is over.
My alma mater, Oberlin College, is debating this issue now. I’ve spoken out as an alumna and I’m sharing my opinion with you, too. Let me know what you think.