I haven’t heard many arguments in support of ROTC on our campus. I’m sure I just don’t travel in those circles, that they are out there somewhere. I am reminded to day on this very snowy afternoon that the only argument I have heard for on campus ROTC is that current ROTC students sometimes have to travel to Cornell (about 1/2 an hour) for courses on sometimes dangerous roads.
I am sympathetic of the issue of student safety, as well as the safety of my co-workers here on campus. I lived in Ithaca my first year working at Cortland and the drive was a little difficult a couple times. Of course one of the reasons I had a difficult drive is that this College has NEVER ONCE cancelled classes during the day for reason of inclement weather since I’ve been here (we did cancel on 9/11). True, most of the students either live on campus or nearby in Cortland. However, I am sure there are more non-Trad communting students on this campus than there are ROTC students. What about their safety? To say nothing of the hundreds of commuting employees at Cortland.
There have been a few cancellations of evening classes, including today, after most of the staff go home anyway.
So it strikes me as somewhat odd that we would make the argument that we need ROTC classes on campus for safety reasons when we require many of our students to drive here in bad weather every semester.
That said, I am not unaware of the potential danger. If we are truly concerned about the safety of driving, I would suggest eliminating the ROTC program altogether and cancelling classes on a more regular basis. Of course there are many more cynical than I (OK, maybe there aren’t many more cynical than I) who might think that the rhetorical move of covering the call to bring ROTC back onto campus with a cry of student safety is a thinly veiled attempt to sidestep the politics of the issue.
An even more cynical person might snicker at the gallows humor of being concerned with the safety of students of icy roads, when ROTC plans on using the College to recruit students for an ongoing war. Such a person might remark that it would be a shame for a student to get into a fender bender on Route 13 before s/he had the opportunity to get blown up in Bagdhad.
However the stark reality of such possibilities is too chilling for such humor. It’s not funny. It’s deadly serious.
There are plenty of other schools students can attend if they want to join the military. After all, like all colleges, Cortland has a limited curriculum. We don’t have a business school. You can’t take Japanese here. You can major in Professional Writing, but not Creative Writing. You can’t get a BFA in anything.
So you can’t take classes in ROTC either. At least in the case of ROTC we have multiple strong reasons for not offering the courses.