Op-Ed: ROTC is our choice. Let’s make the right one

While the debate over the prospect of ROTC returning to campus continues in print, the majority of the Stanford student body has yet to take ownership of this issue. But with the ad hoc Faculty Senate committee having already set a deadline for community submissions (Nov. 22), now is the time for all students to get informed and make their views heard.

One impediment to student involvement in the debate thus far has been the framing of arguments in terms of Stanford having an “obligation” to permit ROTC to return (Kyle O’Malley and Evan Storms writing in the Stanford Review on Nov. 7) or what Stanford “owes” students enrolled in ROTC (the Stanford Daily editorial board on Sept. 29). To be absolutely clear: Stanford is a private institution and has absolutely no obligation, legal or otherwise, to either permit or prohibit ROTC’s presence on campus.

This is an important and exciting fact. It means that we, as students, have complete freedom to decide whether or not we want to permit the military of this country to have an ROTC presence on our campus. Obviously there’s no guarantee that the University’s final decision will reflect student opinion, but we can surely be confident that our views, if expressed openly and articulately, will play a significant role in the administration’s decision-making process.

So the question we must all consider is clear: should we permit the military to have an ROTC presence on campus? The answer will logically depend on what the effects of on-campus ROTC would be and, if the effects of on-campus ROTC would be positive overall, whether Stanford’s resources could instead be allocated in ways that would have greater positive overall effects.

Of course, if the effects of on-campus ROTC would be negative overall, as my research has led me to suspect, there is no need to consider the opportunity cost of allocating Stanford’s resources to this cause. However, if your own research leads to a different conclusion with respect to the effects of on-campus ROTC, don’t forget to also consider the fact that, by allocating resources to ROTC, Stanford would not be in a position to allocate resources to some other, potentially more beneficial, project.

As for the probable effects of on-campus ROTC, one way to approach the issue is to ask why the military would ostensibly jump at the chance to establish an ROTC training center on our campus. Would this enable them to significantly increase the number of scholarships they grant? Probably not. The number of scholarships is largely determined by the military’s need for officers (which, incidentally, is currently quite low in all branches other than the army). And even if it would increase the number of scholarships or cause more students to join, I’m not sure that convenience should be the dispositive factor in students’ decisions to dedicate nine to 12 years of their lives to the military.

Would it enable the military to train ROTC candidates more efficiently? Again, probably not. While it may be less convenient for the students being trained, it is surely more efficient for large numbers of students to be trained in a single location than in multiple smaller training centers. (One exception might be if Stanford was to bear a significant portion of the cost of establishing the on-campus center, which would, in my view, be a highly questionable use of University resources.) So what would be the military’s motivation for coming here?

Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology at S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook, offered the following explanation last year: The military hopes a “highly visible presence on (especially a high prestige) campus…will provide the opportunity for the military to integrate itself into campus life.” He continues: “ROTC programs on…campus allow the military to burnish its image while presenting its distinct point of view about national and global issues to the campus.”

Observations such as these leave me seriously doubting the positive effects of on-campus ROTC. But whatever your conclusions, I urge you to take ownership of this issue. Do your own research, talk to other students and make your voice heard, while also remaining open to changing your opinion if presented with new information. The future character of our campus depends on it.

Sam Windley LL.M. ’11

About Op Ed

  • ROTC advocate

    This was written for the debate surrounding ROTC at Columbia, but the arguments apply to Stanford: http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2010/09/13/america-needs-rotc-columbia

    According to the military’s various, latest official force projection documents, heightened capabilities are required for future officers, who need to be able to adapt fluidly on a full spectrum. Well-resourced academic institutions like Stanford with well-qualified cadet candidates are ideally suited to meet the military’s identified future officer needs.

    As a typical example, from the 2010 Army Operational Concept, which identifies Army needs projected to 2016-2028: http://www.tradoc.army.mil/tpubs/pams/tp525-3-1.pdf

    p 48, B-7. Training and leader development:
    c. Lifelong learning and cognitive skills. Future Army forces require
    lifelong learners who are creative and critical thinkers with highly
    refined problem solving skills and the ability to process and transform
    data and information rapidly and accurately into usable knowledge, across
    a wide range of subjects, to develop strategic thinkers capable of
    applying operational art to the strategic requirements of national policy.

    p 49, B-9. Human dimension:
    Identify specialized skills and expertise. The Army requires the
    capability to identify and track soldiers with specialized skills and
    expertise (for example, commercial and business skills, language ability,
    ethnic and cultural background, and other specialized individual
    abilities) to conduct effective full-spectrum operations in complex
    environments.

  • Jim Wilson

    To begin, you must first define by what you mean by a “presence on campus.” What does it mean to you to allow it to return, because in many ways ROTC is already alive and well on the campus. There are Stanford University students who are cadets and are headed to the army, navy, air force, and marine corps after graduation. Stanford supports transportation costs for the cadets to commute to the program locations. Cadets meet weekly for all-service physical training work outs on campus. First and second year army cadets are taught courses on campus. Since you don’t mention any of these in your piece, I assume that ROTC’s current presence has had little to no negative impact on you.

    What would a return of on-campus ROTC to campus look like? Would campus suddenly be taken over by a swarm of uniformed cadets, turning campus into a pseudo-military post? Not at all. You may see a slight increase in the number of cadets and you may seem them more willing to wear uniforms around campus, but I think that’d be about it. There would be limited to no military training on campus – for the army cadets that training takes place primarily at Camp Parks or Fort Hunter Liggett (US Army Reserve bases located 1-2 hours from Stanford), and this training can happen easily in conjunction with other ROTC programs. In reality, the return of ROTC to on-campus status would likely have little to no impact on people.

    You suggest that the return of ROTC threatens the allocation of university resources away from other “more beneficial” projects, but you offer no metrics for measuring benefits or insights into how resource intensive having ROTC on campus would be. Do you have any more on this? Have you done any research on how many resources other campuses have allocated to ROTC programs, perhaps on a per student basis? Have you considered that most ROTC cadets are covered under full financial scholarship and thus are likely freeing up financial aid resources for other university students? I don’t have numbers on these, but I would be interested in seeing just how resource intensive on-campus ROTC would actually be — particularly given the resources it receives from the government in the form of fully paid scholarships.

    You question why the military would want to establish a presence here, suggesting that its primary goal is to “burnish its image while presenting its distinct point of view about national and global issues.” I challenge you on that. I think the main reason the military would want to establish a program here is that so it can better recruit the caliber of students that Stanford draws — the same reason almost every other company that recruits talent comes here. The military is in competition to recruit talent too, and it wants the best and brightest it can get. The military doesn’t force anyone to sign up, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to recruit the way consulting firms and investment banks are able to? As to presenting a “distinct point of view,” not really sure what you mean by that? The array of opinions expressed by folks in the military is actually very wide and not necessarily so distinct.

    So why should or would Stanford do it? You are correct in that they have no obligation to do so, at least legally. (I don’t agree that “otherwise” is as clear as you’d argue). To begin, Stanford was founded to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” And today seeks to prepare students for “leadership in today’s complex world.” Believe it or not, the military and its soldiers work very hard to promote public welfare and work to better humanity. Are there cases when that hasn’t been true? Certainly, just as there have been cases where other Stanford students, clergymen, doctors, lawyers, consultants, bankers have not acted in accordance with an organizations values.

    In all of your “research” have you actually talked to any of the ROTC cadets or anyone from the military? I suspect that you haven’t, but that is purely an assumption. I find it common here at Stanford for folks to not really seek out the opinion of the military on issues where I think that perspective really matters. (A good example is the Ethics and War series http://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/ethics-events/ethics-and-war/ … anyone speaking from the military?).

    I challenge people to really seek out a full story and range of opinions. Also, I’d like to see a better story run in Stanford publications that does a better job of laying out the complete facts instead of the conversation happening through op-eds.

  • ROTC advocate

    According to the military’s official force projection documents, such as the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, heightened capabilities are required for future officers, who need to be able to adapt fluidly on a full spectrum. Top academic institutions like Stanford with students who are exceptionally qualified cadet candidates are ideally suited to meet the military’s self-identified future officer needs.

    A typical example, from the 2010 Army Operational Concept, which identifies Army needs projected to 2016-2028:

    p 48, B-7. Training and leader development:
    c. Lifelong learning and cognitive skills. Future Army forces require
    lifelong learners who are creative and critical thinkers with highly
    refined problem solving skills and the ability to process and transform
    data and information rapidly and accurately into usable knowledge, across
    a wide range of subjects, to develop strategic thinkers capable of
    applying operational art to the strategic requirements of national policy.

    p 49, B-9. Human dimension:
    Identify specialized skills and expertise. The Army requires the
    capability to identify and track soldiers with specialized skills and
    expertise (for example, commercial and business skills, language ability,
    ethnic and cultural background, and other specialized individual
    abilities) to conduct effective full-spectrum operations in complex
    environments.

  • Sean

    “one way to approach the issue is to ask why the military would ostensibly jump at the chance to establish an ROTC training center on our campus”

    Perhaps because it wants more Stanford students to be among those to lead its Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines?

    The simplest answer is often the best one. A presence on campus would improve its ability to recruit and retain students. Not to mention that the prestige of Stanford would likely draw high quality officers to teach there as Professors of Military Science.

  • Sam

    ROTC advocate and Sean:
    I don’t disagree with your reasoning, which basically boils down to: “Stanford students are some of the best in the country, so why wouldn’t the military want more of them?”
    But that’s not an argument for bringing ROTC on campus, it’s just an explanation of the military’s motivations. And if that explanation is correct, which it may well be, it means that there exists some group of students who are not currently enrolled in ROTC, but who would be if ROTC was on campus.
    If this is the case, then the critical question is a simple one: should we increase the number of Stanford students who enroll in ROTC by making it more convenient to do so? This is obviously a value-judgment, that depends on whether you think those students who enroll in ROTC due to its convenience are likely making the best career choice for themselves.
    My thinking is that—even if ROTC/the military is the best career choice for some Stanford students—the early years of one’s undergraduate education are not the right time to be making that choice. ROTC/the military is a career choice that Stanford students already have (albeit with the balance of conveniences weighed against it). I don’t see any good reason to expend university resources on making that choice more convenient.

  • Jim Wilson

    To begin, you must first define by what you mean by a “presence on campus.” What does it mean to you to allow it to return, because in many ways ROTC is already alive and well on the campus. There are Stanford University students who are cadets and are headed to the army, navy, air force, and marine corps after graduation. Stanford supports transportation costs for the cadets to commute to the program locations. Cadets meet weekly for all-service physical training work outs on campus. First and second year army cadets are taught courses on campus. Since you don’t mention any of these in your piece, I assume that ROTC’s current presence has had little to no negative impact on you.
    What would a return of on-campus ROTC to campus look like? Would campus suddenly be taken over by a swarm of uniformed cadets, turning campus into a pseudo-military post? Not at all. You may see a slight increase in the number of cadets and you may seem them more willing to wear uniforms around campus, but I think that’d be about it. There would be limited to no military training on campus – for the army cadets that training takes place primarily at Camp Parks or Fort Hunter Liggett (US Army Reserve bases located 1-2 hours from Stanford), and this training can happen easily in conjunction with other ROTC programs. In reality, the return of ROTC to on-campus status would likely have little to no impact on people.
    You suggest that the return of ROTC threatens the allocation of university resources away from other “more beneficial” projects, but you offer no metrics for measuring benefits or insights into how resource intensive having ROTC on campus would be. Do you have any more on this? Have you done any research on how many resources other campuses have allocated to ROTC programs, perhaps on a per student basis? Have you considered that most ROTC cadets are covered under full financial scholarship and thus are likely freeing up financial aid resources for other university students? I don’t have numbers on these, but I would be interested in seeing just how resource intensive on-campus ROTC would actually be — particularly given the resources it receives from the government in the form of fully paid scholarships.
    You question why the military would want to establish a presence here, suggesting that its primary goal is to “burnish its image while presenting its distinct point of view about national and global issues.” I challenge you on that. I think the main reason the military would want to establish a program here is that so it can better recruit the caliber of students that Stanford draws — the same reason almost every other company that recruits talent comes here. The military is in competition to recruit talent too, and it wants the best and brightest it can get. The military doesn’t force anyone to sign up, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to recruit the way consulting firms and investment banks are able to? As to presenting a “distinct point of view,” not really sure what you mean by that? The array of opinions expressed by folks in the military is actually very wide and not necessarily so distinct.
    So why should or would Stanford do it? You are correct in that they have no obligation to do so, at least legally. (I don’t agree that “otherwise” is as clear as you’d argue). To begin, Stanford was founded to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” And today seeks to prepare students for “leadership in today’s complex world.” Believe it or not, the military and its soldiers work very hard to promote public welfare and work to better humanity. Are there cases when that hasn’t been true? Certainly, just as there have been cases where other Stanford students, clergymen, doctors, lawyers, consultants, bankers have not acted in accordance with an organizations values.
    In all of your “research” have you actually talked to any of the ROTC cadets or anyone from the military? I suspect that you haven’t, but that is purely an assumption. I find it common here at Stanford for folks to not really seek out the opinion of the military on issues where I think that perspective really matters. (A good example is the Ethics and War series http://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/ethics-events/ethics-and-war/ … anyone speaking from the military?).
    I challenge people to really seek out a full story and range of opinions. Also, I’d like to see a better story run in Stanford publications that does a better job of laying out the complete facts instead of the conversation happening through op-eds.

  • Sean

    Sam,
    The university expends its resources on making other career choices convenient. I’m sure that Stanford, like Harvard and Columbia, have pre-professional offices geared explicitly towards helping students into careers in Medicine or Law or Business. Obviously ROTC is not directly analogous, but it is similar in the sense that the university is helping students who are interested enter into those professions. Indeed, it is in some ways superior as ROTC allows one to “try out” the military in a very practical sense before deciding one wants to join. (I myself did this, trying ROTC for two years before signing a commitment to the military my Junior year). I think by allowing ROTC on campus Stanford would be helping students enter into the profession of arms, just as the university helps students enter into other professions like medicine or law.

  • Sam

    I agree that the university expends its resources on making certain career choices convenient, but there are many crucial differences between those resources/choices and ROTC, including:
    - the people making those career choices convenient are Stanford employees, who Stanford has assessed as having appropriate skills and experience for that role; and
    - companies/employers are not given on-campus facilities to use for their own recruitment purposes.

    I would have no problem with the CDC including military choices among those they present to students seeking career advice, and helping students who make those choices to pursue them, providing that the information the CDC was supplying about the military was accurate. This would be placing the military (as a career choice) on a level playing field with all other career paths and employers. But this is a far cry from providing the military with an on-campus facility from which to dispense career advice and/or promote recruitment, especially since Stanford would have no control over the accuracy of that advice/information, the manner in which it was dispensed, or the individuals who were dispensing it.

  • Jim Wilson

    To begin, you must first define by what you mean by a “presence on campus.” What does it mean to you to allow it to return, because in many ways ROTC is already alive and well on the campus. There are Stanford University students who are cadets and are headed to the army, navy, air force, and marine corps after graduation. Stanford supports transportation costs for the cadets to commute to the program locations. Cadets meet weekly for all-service physical training work outs on campus. First and second year army cadets are taught courses on campus. Since you don’t mention any of these in your piece, I assume that ROTC’s current presence has had little to no negative impact on you.
    What would a return of on-campus ROTC to campus look like? Would campus suddenly be taken over by a swarm of uniformed cadets, turning campus into a pseudo-military post? Not at all. You may see a slight increase in the number of cadets and you may seem them more willing to wear uniforms around campus, but I think that’d be about it. There would be limited to no military training on campus – for the army cadets that training takes place primarily at Camp Parks or Fort Hunter Liggett (US Army Reserve bases located 1-2 hours from Stanford), and this training can happen easily in conjunction with other ROTC programs. In reality, the return of ROTC to on-campus status would likely have little to no impact on people.
    You suggest that the return of ROTC threatens the allocation of university resources away from other “more beneficial” projects, but you offer no metrics for measuring benefits or insights into how resource intensive having ROTC on campus would be. Do you have any more on this? Have you done any research on how many resources other campuses have allocated to ROTC programs, perhaps on a per student basis? Have you considered that most ROTC cadets are covered under full financial scholarship and thus are likely freeing up financial aid resources for other university students? I don’t have numbers on these, but I would be interested in seeing just how resource intensive on-campus ROTC would actually be — particularly given the resources it receives from the government in the form of fully paid scholarships.
    You question why the military would want to establish a presence here, suggesting that its primary goal is to “burnish its image while presenting its distinct point of view about national and global issues.” I challenge you on that. I think the main reason the military would want to establish a program here is that so it can better recruit the caliber of students that Stanford draws — the same reason almost every other company that recruits talent comes here. The military is in competition to recruit talent too, and it wants the best and brightest it can get. The military doesn’t force anyone to sign up, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to recruit the way consulting firms and investment banks are able to? As to presenting a “distinct point of view,” not really sure what you mean by that? The array of opinions expressed by folks in the military is actually very wide and not necessarily so distinct.
    So why should or would Stanford do it? You are correct in that they have no obligation to do so, at least legally. (I don’t agree that “otherwise” is as clear as you’d argue). To begin, Stanford was founded to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” And today seeks to prepare students for “leadership in today’s complex world.” Believe it or not, the military and its soldiers work very hard to promote public welfare and work to better humanity. Are there cases when that hasn’t been true? Certainly, just as there have been cases where other Stanford students, clergymen, doctors, lawyers, consultants, bankers have not acted in accordance with an organizations values.
    In all of your “research” have you actually talked to any of the ROTC cadets or anyone from the military? I suspect that you haven’t, but that is purely an assumption. I find it common here at Stanford for folks to not really seek out the opinion of the military on issues where I think that perspective really matters. (A good example is the Ethics and War series … anyone speaking from the military?).
    I challenge people to really seek out a full story and range of opinions. Also, I’d like to see a better story run in Stanford publications that does a better job of laying out the complete facts instead of the conversation happening through op-eds.

  • Jim

    Sam – How would the university have no control over the accuracy of the career advice/information that would be dispensed to potential candidates? I feel they’d actually be under quite a bit of scrutiny, and they are still tenants of the university. The military doesn’t have an interest in tricking people into joining the military, particularly at the officer levels. As stated by Sean, you actually get to try out ROTC for two years before you have any kind of commitment. Also, you aren’t choosing a lifelong career because you do ROTC. Many veterans here at Stanford have served in the military and are now in graduate programs here as they transition to other careers.

    On the issue of utilizing university resources, do you have confirmation or background research on what level of resources would be required? How do you justify the vast amounts of resources put towards athletic programs? How is that any different? I would be interested in knowing if the government or a university normally funds new building projects related to ROTC.

  • Law School Veteran

    Sam,

    I have to agree with Jim. I would expect an LLM to be able to deliver an argument that is actually supported by facts and research. I am curious if you really have any foundations in reality when it comes to this topic.

    For instance, you stated that, “even if it would increase the number of scholarships or cause more students to join, I’m not sure that convenience should be the dispositive factor in students’ decisions to dedicate nine to 12 years of their lives to the military.”

    First of all, this statement is factually inaccurate. ROTC students do not incur 9 or 12 years of service obligation from their scholarships. In fact, ROTC students choose between active service, which is 3 to 4 years (depending on scholarship) as a full time officer and 4-5 years as individual ready reserve (on call with limited obligations to serve), and Reserve or National Guard service, in which they serve part time and can pursue a civilian career.

    Aside from this obvious mistake (and many pointed out by Jim and others), the underlying assumption in your argument seems to be that military service is somehow bad, and that we should either prevent students from making this choice or make it more difficult for them to make the choice.

    I wish you would be more direct and discuss why you think military service is bad – rather than distracting us with the notion that there are some unnamed resource costs for ROTC on campus. Maybe it is a bad career decision where you come from. I notice that you are an LLM so I am curious if you are from another country where military service is considered a bad career choice.

    Without this part of your argument it is hard to argue with you. All I can do is point out that as a veteran I feel strongly that there is no greater career for personal development as a leader and a person of character than service in the military. I was an Army officer and given a great amount of responsibility from the first day I showed up in my unit. I was placed in charge of 38 individuals and had to win their trust and then lead them to make intelligent and moral decisions in very ambiguous environments. I was given a great opportunity to make a difference, and I did not always make the right choices (no one does) but I did my best. Being in the Army has shaped who I am and I feel strongly that more people should be given the opportunity to have the same experience.

    Also, I think it’s important to note that military service is a burden that someone in our society has to bear. It is a tough job, where people get killed, and where leaders and soldiers are forced into situations where they have to make tough decisions that test their moral character on a reoccurring basis. It is a testament to the strength of our country when our best and brightest are willing to serve in this capacity. It shows moral strength when they don’t stand back and take cushy investment banking jobs while they let other less fortunate individuals volunteer to serve.
    To be clear, I am not saying that I blindly agree with all our nation’s policies. I’m simply saying that when no one is willing to stand up and wear a military uniform that our country will no longer exist. We should be, and I am, proud of our Stanford graduates who have chosen to serve their country upon graduation. They deserve our thanks and our respect.
    To close, I want to remind you that in many parts of the world the United States Military represents America. The military strives to be diverse, professional, moral, respectful, intelligent, and just. It is clear that having Stanford graduates in the military will benefit the military. But it will also benefit our country and the world. It is something that Stanford students should be proud to be a part of. For me, providing an opportunity for more Stanford students to be part of ROTC is something we should encourage. I am curious why you have such a visceral reaction to military service and to making it more available to Stanford Students.

  • Sam

    Two quick comments in response to Law School Veteran:
    - I am well aware of the various lengths of post-graduation service obligations associated with ROTC. The 9-12 year figure is inclusive of the 4 years of ROTC activities that students engage in while at university.
    - My article has nothing to do with whether military service is “bad”. You admit that I do not directly argue this (and I don’t believe I indirectly argue it either), yet you devote many exasperated words to disputing the notion. I do not challenge the value of your personal experience, and I am not interested in debating the merits of the U.S. military per se. I simply suggested that students take ownership of this issue, and that I have become convinced of the negative overall effects of a formal on-campus ROTC program; it’s telling that you find it necessary to classify my article as a “visceral reaction to military service” in order to argue with it.

  • Jim

    Sam – You state that you have become convinced that there will be a negative overall effect of a formal on-campus ROTC program, but you do not offer up any real evidence or facts as to why this would be. You include a quote from a professor (which comes from a notably liberal source The Huffington Post), which is fine, but even Professor Schwartz’s assertion is not based on fact but is an opinion. Can you point to any recent examples or actual cases where the military/ROTC programs have actually done anything you feel had a negative impact on a campus?

  • Sean

    Sam,

    As you note it is a value judgment as to whether ROTC would be a good thing to have on campus. You state “I have become convinced of the negative overall effects of a formal on-campus ROTC program.” Why? What precisely leads you to this conclusion?

    I take the opposite view. Here is why:

    Benefits to the University and Nation

    1. Close the perceived and increasingly evident civil-military gap. Reinstating ROTC would make a strong statement of Stanford’s dedication to its responsibility to produce wholly engaged national and world leaders. It would encourage students to serve the nation and the people alongside their fellow citizens.

    2. Societal benefit. Guide and improve the military community with higher quality, better-educated, diverse leaders: Officers with a Stanford-taught perspective of tolerance and respect directly benefit the diverse members of the military.

    3. Citizen Soldiers. Civilian educated officers bring to the military a wider and more rounded background. Stanford should make it a priority to produce leaders in all areas of society, including the military. ROTC graduates follow in the citizen-soldier tradition that has been favored by American society since the days of the minuteman: a non-aristocratic officer who sees himself or herself as an integral part of the society that he/she is duty-bound to protect.

    4. Educate the armed forces. ROTC on campus allows Stanford to work directly with the military to educate the military’s future leaders. To reject ROTC only serves to place the military out of reach of academic and civilian influence. ROTC is vital for continuing the flow of new ideas into the military by officers with a liberal education.

    5. Positive addition. A native cadet population increases diversity on campus and enriches the community. Cadets state that ROTC provides focus, discipline and pragmatic skills in their college education. Military service via ROTC embodies selfless service, duty, respect, integrity, responsibility, courage and leadership as core values.

    6. Enrich Stanford educational and career opportunities. Provides students with an on-campus military resource, increased academic options and career choices. Adds military virtues and perspectives to Stanford’s intellectual pool.

    7. Increase interest for Stanford. A well-advertised ROTC program at Stanford combining uniquely Stanford and ROTC benefits will attract more students to Stanford.

    8. Professional benefit. The 21st century military requires smarter, better-educated, ethical leaders. The military is becoming a faster-reacting force with an emphasis on professional acumen and the adaptation of technology. The situations and missions faced by the military are more varied and complex, whether they are humanitarian, defensive, or nation-building.

    9. Fair treatment for ROTC cadets. Cadets deserve the benefits of a Stanford-based ROTC program. Ending separate and unequal status for ROTC training at Stanford would improve the lives of cadets who must travel elsewhere. By not forcing Stanford students to pursue career and educational goals at other schools, you encourage a sense of community and loyalty to Stanford as a school, which may benefit the school when those ROTC students become alumni.

    10. Practice inclusion, not exclusion. Fight ignorance and misunderstanding about the military at Stanford. ROTC fosters understanding and respect for the military and its members and helps close the civil-military gap.

    11. ROTC scholarships. ROTC provides scholarships and financial assistance to many of its participants and can help qualified, underprivileged students attend Stanford.

    Benefits to Students:

    1. Scholarships: ROTC Cadets can obtain full scholarships providing many students the opportunity to attend high-cost schools like Stanford and to graduate without any financial debt.

    2. Leadership Training: ROTC is one of the premier leadership training programs available to students today. Classroom instruction combined with hands-on practical training in leadership, management, planning, decision-making, ethics, tactics and strategy, gives students an edge over their peers in any job market.

    3. Job Security and Opportunities: Active Duty Commissioned ROTC Cadets are guaranteed employment after graduation with extensive medical, dental, housing, and retirement benefits. In addition, extensive summer courses and internships are available for additional training and leadership experiences.

    4. Service to Country: ROTC serves as the primary conduit for the commissioning of Military Officers. Many students have a strong desire to serve their country as commissioned officers. A ROTC program at Stanford would permit these students to combine the high quality education that Stanford provides with preparation for a military career.

    5. Careers and Skills: The military is not made up of just infantrymen and pilots. It takes a whole range of professionals to support and run the military – from Doctors, Lawyers, Psychologists and Scientists to Supply Officers, Logisticians, Foreign Area Officers, and Veterinarians, as well as the Infantrymen, Pilots, Submariners, and the like. Many advances in science and business have come out of the military, from the very successful burn treatments developed at the Army Institute of Surgical Research, to the product tracking and shipping systems used at such companies as FedEx, Barnes & Noble, and Wal-Mart, developed originally by the Quartermaster Corps.

  • Ryan

    Sam,
    What negative effect could linger if ROTC is brought back on campus ? You write the article as if it would be a privilege for ROTC from all the branches to have an element at Stanford, take a 180 degree turn and look at it that way. As a Marine Corps vet as well an employee of the university I see a huge lack of support for the military as well as the veterans that are on campus is not at all suprising. The students that I do talk to that support the military and want to serve are extremely intelligent, eager to make a difference and will do an outstanding job in the military. The students that are already enrolled in ROTC who attend Stanford would benefit greatly for having there local ROTC command here at Stanford instead of the traveling to other campuses for drilling and training. I would be glad to see one young Stanford Student go serve in the line, be a jet jockey or a trauma surgeon in the military than see a hundred graduate from the law school or GSB.

  • Jim

    Sam – You may also want to consider the “Solomon Amendement” in acted in 1996 which authorizes the Secretary of Defense to be able to deny federal funding (including research grants) from a number of federal departments to institutions of higher learning (note not just public but private also) that deny access to military and ROTC recruiters. The constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court in Rumsfeld v FAIR in 2006. So while the university may have no legal obligation to allow access, denying it access may bring the denial of research grants. As an LLM I would have expected you to at least address this.

  • Sam

    Sean, Jim, Ryan: thank you for your comments.
    (For the record Jim, I was aware of the Solomon Amendment and Rumsfeld v. FAIR, but there’s only so much you can say in 700 words. Plus, the rule doesn’t appear to be something that the ad-hoc Faculty Senate committee considers particularly relevant to the issue currently under consideration.)
    I appreciate everyone putting forth their views. I didn’t, and still don’t, see it as my job to convince absolutely everyone that on-campus ROTC would not be a good idea, if for no other reason than I wouldn’t expect anyone to be convinced of anything by 700 words of Op-Ed. As I said in the article, I really want students to reach their own conclusions on this issue and express their opinions, and I believe that this comments page has actually become a good source of relevant information. Ideally, the comments would have refrained from personal attacks, but other than that I am grateful for the contributions to the discussion. I wish everyone on campus was so forthcoming with their opinions.

  • ROTC Advocate

    You still never answered this question:
    “You state “I have become convinced of the negative overall effects of a formal on-campus ROTC program.” Why? What precisely leads you to this conclusion?”
    I am curious as well. What would be the negative overall effect of the program? Especially after Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is repealed?

  • Jim

    Sam – I agree that there is only so much you can in 700 words and that it isn’t your job to convince “absolutely everyone” that on-campus ROTC is not a good idea. Was the goal of your article to encourage people to research the issue and come to their own conclusions or was it to convince people that on-campus ROTC would have a negative impact on the student population? As written, your article is unclear on its motives though implies you are arguing for a position. Regardless of the intent, the article fails on both accounts.

    If you want to encourage folks to do their own research and come to their own conclusions then you should be providing them with unbiased facts and resources of where to go for all sides of the argument. The article provides neither facts now researchs of where to go. So, if I am a reader what am I most likely to do? Probably just talk to my friends who are likely to have similar views and the same amount of background knowledge that I do. The claim of of having to “dedicate 9-12 years of their lives to the military” is misleading and intellectually dishonest (Law School Veteran lays out the truth), which is concerning because the piece misleads folks who may not have background knowledge on the issue and does not provide the necessary resources to get correct, factual information.

    If the intent is to convince people of the position that on-campus ROTC would have a negative impact, then the piece is very weak at best because it doesn’t provide any substance to the argument.

    I do understand that 700 words is limiting, but that makes the choice of those words all the more important. However, you don’t have the word constraints here in the comments section and you have not been willing to engage, provide more clairity on your research and analytic process which leaves me even more puzzled on how you come to the conclusisions that you come too. You may feel that attacks have turned personal, but that is largely because your op-ed has little to no substance in it to really and the only thing that can really be discussed is your opinion, which by definition is personal.

  • Fred Schoeneman

    Sam,

    As a former enlisted infantrymen who went on to attend and then drop out from Stanford University, I have to take issue with your opinion. At the outset let me mention that I hated being in the military, and had no desire to become an officer afterward. But when I came to Stanford, I must say that I found the reflexively anti-military sentiments of some students students, and many faculty, annoying. And I find your attack (yet-not-quite an attack) on ROTC cowardly. Really dude, you ought to have the huevos to admit you hate the military, and explain why you find their presence on campus so odious. Was it all the trauma you experienced watching movies about Vietnam? Because I remember biting my nails after Oliver Stone’s “Platoon.” And Michael J. Fox did some of his best work in that movie where Sean played an infantryman who walked around raping little Vietnamese girls and Fox was all, like, “no dude, you can’t do that.” And God knows the scene from “Apocalypse Now” where the door gunner is shooting innocent Vietnamese farmers was movie magic.

    I also find it hypocritical for you to have written:

    “One impediment to student involvement in the debate thus far has been the framing of arguments in terms of Stanford having an “obligation” to permit ROTC to return… or what Stanford “owes” students enrolled in ROTC…”

    Just before you go on to create your own impediment to student involvement in the debate with your own attempt at framing:

    “…don’t forget to also consider the fact that, by allocating resources to ROTC, Stanford would not be in a position to allocate resources to some other, potentially more beneficial, project.”

    Saying that something is logical does not make it so. Or maybe it does. How about this: Logically, the standard for justifying ROTC on campus is simple: ROTC need not be more beneficial than “some other, potentially more beneficial, project,” as you claim. It need only be more beneficial than any of the currently funded projects at Stanford University. For example, is ROTC more beneficial to Stanford students than all the resources spent lecturing students about the evils of eating table grapes? Probably. Is it more beneficial to Stanford students than programs designed to help gay and lesbian students? Or Arab students? Or Jewish students? As you must know, all have significant funds allocated to their survival on campus. And all take room from other worthy programs. Is ROTC more valuable than the sailing program? Probably. How about the crew team? Will the funding Stanford uses to support ROTC keep Chip and Biff and Chad and Jeff from traveling to UCLA for their monthly intramural Frisbee golf outings?

    Which of these notional programs are not being funded now that you’d like to fund instead?

    I do however agree with you, at least in principle. You say “While it may be less convenient for the students being trained, it is surely more efficient for large numbers of students to be trained in a single location than in multiple smaller training centers.” Hear, hear, Sam. It absolutely does make sense to keep all those ROTC guys from local universities in one place, to achieve training efficiencies. A critical mass if you will, to borrow a term from Stanford’s business school. We’ll call them concentration camps and we’ll put them somewhere out in the Mojave. But for logical consistency, shouldn’t we apply the same principle to other projects? Por ejemplo, couldn’t the University take all the intolerant, military hating pseudo-intellectuals it can find from Stanford, University of Santa Clara, San Jose State, UC’s Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and ship them to San Francisco State?

    Because I promise you that if you could make that shit happen, I’d beg borrow or steal the money to make sure each and every one of you has all the vegetarian chili, gluten-free tortillas, and macrobiotic-friendly hummus you can eat.

    Sincerely,

    Fred

  • Law School Veteran

    Sam,

    I agree with you that it is important that we discuss the benefits and the costs of bringing ROTC onto Campus. I personally think that there are significant benefits and almost no costs. I noted many of these benefits above and others have also added a theirs.

    I found that in your article you failed to mention anything supported by any substantial data that could be considered a cost. Therefore, I concluded that you must be relying on the assumption that having the military on campus is inherently bad. You claim that you are “not interested in debating the merits of the U.S. military”, but this debate seems inextricably intertwined with your argument. If the military is a good and noble profession, then we are benefited by having ROTC on campus. If it is not, then we may not benefit.

    You state that you “have become convinced of the negative overall effects of a formal on-compus ROTC program.” [sic] We are all waiting in anticipation for a logical reason why you have reached this conclusion. If it is not anti-military sentiment then I am left baffled with your conclusion. I have nothing to argue against, because you have presented nothing as far as evidence or logic. The “facts” you do present are misleading, the assumptions you make are off-base.

    If you want to have an honest debate about this topic please present us with some reasoning behind your argument, so that we can partake in the discussion you encouraged the rest of the university to engage in. Otherwise, I think that your article verges on hypocrisy for its lack of honesty and your unwillingness to actually discuss this topic with any type of intellectual vigor.

  • Ryan

    It is anti-military sentiment, he just can’t man up to it. The only negative consequences that would arise for having ROTC at Stanford would be the cowardly and vindictive personal attacks on ROTC students, Command Staff and and other military property by students that adamantly oppose having the Military on campus.

    Quote Sam : ” Of course, if the effects of on-campus ROTC would be negative overall, as my research has led me to suspect, there is no need to consider the opportunity cost of allocating Stanford’s resources to this cause. However, if your own research leads to a different conclusion with respect to the effects of on-campus ROTC, don’t forget to also consider the fact that, by allocating resources to ROTC, Stanford would not be in a position to allocate resources to some other, potentially more beneficial, project. ”

    Admit it Sam, you want that money to go to more frisbee golf and it won’t cost Stanford anything.

  • Eric (also 1st reply ROTC advocate)

    Sam,

    Just to clear up my 1st comment, you entered your conclusion by asking “what would be the military’s motivation for coming here?” and answered with the Michael Schwartz quote. I provided an alternate answer to your question using official Army quotes to show America needs ROTC at Stanford.

    With respect to Michael Schwartz, I highly recommend Columbia University professor Allan Silver for a sociologist’s view on ROTC. You can find Silver’s writings on-line, plus video of him on youtube.

    You say: “the early years of one’s undergraduate education are not the right time to be making that choice.”

    Do you mean Stanford undergrads shouldn’t make the specific career choice of military officership or they shouldn’t make any career choice as undergrads? Either way, I disagree with you. Your characterization of undergraduates without career commitment applies better to liberal arts students who do not have a distinct career path and enter the same general pool upon graduation. However, students in intensive, sequenced, often technical fields such as architecture, engineering, the sciences, pre-meds, even fashion design, effectively make a career commitment with their major. They may drop out of it, but I understand cadets aren’t locked into ROTC, either. It’s necessary to train officers as undergrads because most ROTC cadets receive large leadership responsibilities soon after they graduate as lieutenants.

    While I understand college resembles extended childhood in many ways, I disagree with your infantilization of Stanford students; as 18-22 year-olds, they’ve reached majority age. Many HS graduates delay or skip college altogether in order to work, maybe even start a family, including some who enlist in the military. I hope the 19-year-old who attends Stanford is as mature as his 19-year-old HS classmate who enlisted in the Army, is an artist, is a pro/am athlete, became a police officer or firefighter, entered construction, started his own business, etc.. Aspiring officers in ROTC who expect to lead professional soldiers in a few short years are expected to be capable of making adult decisions.

    Finally, the military and ROTC receive dissimilar treatment than other employers on campus because the military is not a typical employer; rather, the military is a unique entity in our society. ROTC is a special civil-military relationship between America’s military and American universities that ties the military to civil society at the most formative point, the creation of its leaders.

    Sam, definitely look up Columbia Sociology professor Allan Silver’s scholarship on ROTC. I also recommend the treasure trove of ROTC advocacy information at Advocates for ROTC dot org.

  • SMSgt Mac

    I was going to use my comment space to inquire as to why an activist Aussie should be heeded on any topic related to US society and/or National Defense and then run his nose up and down my sleeve so he could count the bumps. –But I see that the gentlefolk who arrived here first have things well in hand. Carry on.

  • Another law school veteran

    Sam,

    Your equating of military and ROTC with other “career paths and employers” is inapposite.

    As Eric said, outside of the liberal arts, many undergrads are on a plotted career path. But the military is a unique employer. While many employers maintain relationships with the university and students, pre-professional students can choose from multiple employers within that career path (hypo: you’re a hot-shot comp sci major; should you choose Microsoft or Apple?). For the Stanford student who chooses the career path of military officership, however, there is only one employer option: the US military. ROTC cadets on a military career path can’t serve in other nations’ militaries, though some may go on to serve in different militaries after fulfilling their service commitment to America. Many years ago, universities did run their own military programs, but in modern times, it makes no practical sense for a university to run an independent ad hoc military program for the sake of an artificial division with the military.

    You claim “Stanford would have no control” over its ROTC program and imply ROTC on campus would pose some vague danger to Stanford students. That doesn’t make sense. The purpose of returning ROTC to Stanford is so Stanford can fully engage with ROTC to construct a uniquely Stanford ROTC program for its students and have close oversight over the program and its cadre and Stanford students in ROTC. If Stanford complained to the Pentagon about a Stanford ROTC cadre member, how long do you think that cadre member would continue working for the Stanford program? The answer is not long. In contrast, in the current set-up, Stanford has no control over ROTC hosted by another university and little oversight over Stanford cadets participating in another university’s ROTC.

    Finally, I have zero problem if ROTC on campus gives the military an advantage attracting the best and brightest to officership. MY value judgement, Sam: American Soldiers absolutely deserve the best and brightest officers our nation can provide them. Hopefully, ROTC presence on campus will help balance the disadvantages the military faces attracting Stanford students. There is ample precedent for affirmative actions taken to further social policy interests. Closing the civil-military gap is a social policy interest. If our nation believes there ought to be more Stanford officers in the military and healthier engagement of the military on prestigious campuses like Stanford’s, then adding ROTC to the Stanford campus is a logical step to further that social policy interest.

  • Author is Australian

    FYI:

    Samuel Windley IP Lawyer & Graduate Student ; Student at Stanford University
    Stanford, CA

    About meWhere I grew up
    Nowra, Australia
    Places I’ve lived
    Osaka, Japan; Canberra, Australia
    Companies I’ve worked for
    Shusaku Yamamoto
    Schools I’ve attended
    The Australian National University; Nowra High School