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Army proposes to add military science minor

February 8, 2007

Any UW-River Falls student hoping to minor in military science has to register through UW-Stout or wait until at least September.

Eleven UWRF students participated in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) last semester along with students from UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire.

In order for UWRF students to participate in the ROTC, they must register through another institution and take military science courses. At this time, UWRF does not have a military science program, but the Army has gotten the ball rolling to change that.

“ROTC Programs … train qualified young men and women to become officers in those services upon graduation from college,” according to todaysmilitary.com. “The good news is, ROTC is available in more than 1,000 colleges and universities throughout the U.S.”

The U.S. Army may soon add UWRF to their list.

Faculty Senate Chair Wes Chapin said the Army has sent a formal proposal to the University asking for the program to be held.

“The Army would like to get the program approved as soon as possible,” Chapin said. “However, it has to go through an approval process.”

The ROTC program would be voted on by the Student and Faculty Senates and the academic staff. Chancellor Don Betz would then decide whether to sign the proposal or not.

If the program is approved, the military science minor would be submitted through a different approval process.

It would need to be approved by the College Curriculum Committee, the Student Senate, the Academic Policy and Program Committee and finally, the Faculty Senate. Before being approved by the Faculty Senate, the Academic Policy and Program Committee is asked to make a recommendation to the Senate.

“At any university, there will be people who oppose and who are in favor of the ROTC,” Chapin said. “Personally, I think there is an advantage to training officers in a liberal arts environment.”

Chapin said a problem with approving the proposal is UWRF does not know where to place the program.

“It is not clear where military science would be home to,” Chapin said. “It’s hard to say which college it belongs to — College of Arts and Sciences, for example.”

Besides the undecided future placement of the minor, some critics are finding faults in the promotion of the ROTC program itself.

Harvard, for example, banished ROTC in 1969 during the Vietnam War. Several other schools, including Yale, Dartmouth and New York University did the same. Harvard also stopped funding the program in 1995, saying the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays violated its non-discrimination policy.

“The main concern that faculty and staff have is that UWRF is supposed to be inclusive,” Chapin said. “The Army would be violating that with the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”

Another concern is if the University promotes the ROTC, they are promoting the expansion of the military and more war.

UWRF Veteran Service Officer David Till said he thinks it is good the ROTC program is getting a lot of interest.

“I think that the program is important,” Till said. “It’s a good way for those who are interested in the military. Credits go towards your minor for service you are already doing.”

Till said though the ROTC program is rigorous and challenging, both mentally and physically, it is a great way for a person to spend their life.

“Having military knowledge is helpful,” Till said. “It will better someone’s career and give them scholarships. Doing a program like this will better your life.”

Junior Xou Thao said he didn’t know if the ROTC Program would be offered when he came to UWRF, but he joined 10 others last semester in the program. Thao said he started as a cadet in the ROTC, but was unable to continue in the program this semester due to a busy schedule. If he had remained in the program, Thao said he would have had the chance to advance in the ranks.

Thao also said the ROTC Program on campus is being well received unlike during the Vietnam War.

“During that time, a lot of people had negative feelings towards the troops and the war,” Thao said. “I think that from what we learned is to not think so negatively towards the troops even though people may have different opinions about the war.”

In President Bush’s Jan. 10 State of the Union Address, he outlined a new strategy on Iraq.

“ … America will provide forces and support necessary for achieving these goals. Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we’ll maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary … Our nation appreciates their hard work and sacrifice, and they can know that they will be heading home soon.”

Freshman Chris Aeschliman is a member of the U.S. military and a student at UWRF.

“When I volunteered to go to Iraq, I was broke and needed money,” Aeschliman said. “Now, I’m doing OK money-wise, but I still think I made the right decision.”

Aeschliman said he thinks his deployment of doing convoy security will be a yearlong stint. After his return, he said he will come back to finish school at UWRF.

“I love this place,” Aeschliman said. “I’ve made some really good friends and I will definitely come back.”