Thursday, August 28, 2008

ROTC at Stanford??!

Hello everyone! I'm itching for SoCo to get started, but first...

Ever wonder why many of the cream-of-the-crop universities in the US - including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia - aren't affiliated with Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs? In many of these institutions, the decision to shun the officer commissioning program has been the byproduct of historical clash(es) between militarism and academia.

Stanford cut its ties with ROTC about 40 years ago, when the US public was trembling in fear of a potential World War number 3, and when renowned Stanford alum Herbert Hoover was publicly voicing his pacifist ideals. Not all of the Hoover clan, however, shared Herbert's feelings. Herbert's older brother Theodore, for one, actively supported the presence of ROTC on campus. Theodore Hoover was a miner-turned-dean of engineering at Stanford who went as far as to include the following sentence in the curriculum of one of his classes (Mining and Metallurgy 101 - ever heard of this course?):

"The human race develops by war, and succeeds in war in proportion to its use of metals; races perish in peace. Culture in increased by invention of new weapons. The pacifist errs in assuming that peace is desirable. Emerson said everything we have must be paid for. We Americans are living in unpaid luxury and must pay in the future by blood and hard work.”

Whoa...hold on there tiger. These spartan words were met by even a more gutsy response from a certain Robert Speers, the student editor of the Daily at that time. Speers contended that the sentence be removed from the course curriculum, adding that such degree of blatant militarism was inappropriate to an elite institution's humanitarian environment. Not too surprisingly, the older Hoover and his proponents immediately retaliated, spitting threats of expulsion of Speers. The fiery exchange between the student and the faculty was eventually deemed...embarrassing, and the matter was put to an end with ROTC being banned on campus for good.

So where is the ROTC today? It's at San Jose State, Santa Clara University, AND good ol' UC-Berkeley, but its presence is missed- either sorely or thankfully- at Stanford. Stanford's ROTC students are forced to commute hours to get appropriate training, but aren't given any credit for the hours of work they put into that training. The administrators' defense against these students' complaints? The ROTC classes simply do not meet Stanford's academic standards, and their Department of Defense-driven causes are incompatible with the University policy.

Whether you're siding with these adamant administrators or sympathizing with the ROTC-less Stanford students, it's interesting to peek into the pages of history that explain the censorship of ROTC at Stanford and other elite academic institutions.

Feel free to read these Daily articles for more info!



Lauren said...

Hey Steve--

Excellent break down of the ROTC issue! Well researched and written. I would love to talk to you about this because I came to Stanford on an Army ROTC scholarship and I have some insight.



KIEMO said...

ROTC should never be allowed to return to Stanford and the students attending should not be allowed to participate in the program!! It will only bring the high standards of our superb volunteer forces down. I suspect that students are going to other schools for ROTC and Stanford only wants to slow that down....too bad!! Wasn't it in the same area that they were trying to kick the Marines out of town recently??

twinsoldiersforlife said...

You should read this book: "AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - and How It Hurts Our Country" by Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer

On Pg.88 is this quote from General John Abizaid (while the Commanding Officer of Central Command)

"The young men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, across the Middle East, and throughout the world during this ongoing War on Terror are already making a generational mark ... In their selfless service, the over one million young American men and women who have braved the daily dangers posed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Zarqawi's terrorist and Baathist-rejectionist insurgents in Iraq, and the disciples of al Qaida and its radical ideology in places from Morocco to the Philippines have demonstrated the courage of commitment and the will to protect American freedoms and democracy and to assist in the spread of human freedoms and democratic ideals around the globe. Without protest or complaint, this generation's military volunteers and their families have shouldered the responsibilities of America's freedom and are helping to advance the freedoms of nearly a billion people across the greater Middle East. In the process of honoring their civic duty to our nation, the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford should take note. These volunteers and their families display daily the skills that will make them the political and social force to be reckoned with in our country's future ... Because they have experienced what it is to sacrifice self to help advance the great causes of our time, freedom and liberty, these veterans have earned the respect to make the decisions necessary to keep this nation great for generations to come."