Saturday, October 09, 2010
Looking at the participation rate in ROTC by dividing the number of ROTC students by the total undergrad enrollments produces the following result:
School ROTC Total Ugrad ROTC participation rate
University of Virginia 82 13617 0.006021884
Princeton University 22 5200 0.004230769
Duke University 27 6400 0.00421875
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 13 4232 0.003071834
University of Michigan 64 26208 0.002442002
Cornell University 34 13,931 0.0024406
University of California-Berkeley 15 25530 0.000587544
(sorry that my Excel table didn't import neatly into the commments; all UG enrollments except Princeton's from Wikipedia)
So Princeton's participation rate in ROTC is second on this list only to UVA.
LTC Stark's comments, however, are not entirely helpful. Most faculty are indifferent to ROTC, but then they are usually indifferent to most things outside their disciplines. His characteriztion of Princeton students as interested in grand strategy rather than tactics is glib. While it might be true that Princeton students tend to want to look at the big picture first, the idea that they would not be interested in small-unit tactics doesn't necessarily follow. A more positive presentation from ROTC rather than suggesting inaccurately that the school is not welcoming would be more helpful for those of us who support the participation of the students.
My first takeaway: Ivy League campuses for ROTC is like Alaska for petroleum companies - an exotic land with barely scratched or untapped potential, where higher access and investment could open a boon.
1. Numbers. First and most obvious from the Inside Higher Ed article, there's a stark difference between the cadet numbers for prestigious schools that host ROTC on campus and for the schools that force their cadets off-campus. Second, the numbers may be further depressed, including on campuses that host ROTC, due to the subsistence level investment in the
programs. Notwithstanding exceptional efforts by individual leaders such as LTC Stark, no special institutional (university or ROTC) effort seems to have been made to recruit, then keep Ivy students as cadets. So, if/when ROTC is restored to the other Ivies, I hope they are innovative programs, rather than mere duplicates of existing Ivy ROTC arrangements. Starting a new ROTC program on a campus such as Columbia University is a rare opportunity to paint on a fresh canvas: I am curious to see the kind of numbers that campus-accessible, highly visible ROTCs that are programmatically tailored to Ivy students, accompanied by high-intensity tailored recruiting outreach to Ivy students, can yield.
2. Untapped potential. Remember in 'Saving Private Ryan' when Tom Hanks and Ted Danson, playing Army captains, fluidly synthesized Allied grand strategy with their tactical missions on the ground? From the Inside Higher Ed article: "Princeton students are interested in the military’s conflicts, but “they’re grand strategists, not tacticians,” [Princeton AROTC PMS] Stark said, more interested in studying war from a public policy and international affairs perspective than in preparing themselves to engage in battle." Now, match LTC Stark's observation about Princetonians to the leadership qualities called for by the 2009 Army Capstone Concept (p 48): "Future Army forces require lifelong earners 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." Moving forward, there is a practical need, not just a social need, for the kind of officers that Ivy ROTC has the potential to produce.
My second takeaway: framing the Ivy ROTC issue in terms of individual choice and opportunity is at best incomplete. Rather, I agree with Glenn Reynolds in the NY Post that America has a compelling social policy interest in restoring Ivy ROTC. As such, the government should approach the issue as the government traditionally approaches other (civic) progressive social policy concerns. Rather than place the burden for social reform on disadvantaged individuals, the government should rehabilitate conditions to facilitate social reform through intensified focus and investment in a top-down intervention. The first step is for universities and the government to come together to restore ROTC on Ivy campuses. The rest will follow.
To learn more about ROTC advocacy in the Ivy League, go here: http://www.advocatesforrotc.org/
Son just interviewed with the Tiger Battalion Lt in charge of scholarships, but not for a spot at Princeton. Looking at Rice, Tulane, UT Austin, GT, Richmond, and UVa, among others. In other words, south or west away from the cold and most liberals.