At last week’s student-led panel regarding the alleged rapes of four students, many students voiced concern that the accused rapist Ryan Caskey was a cadet in the ROTC program.
Several students expressed backlash against having the ROTC, an army training program, on a Jesuit campus based around social justice.
A panel of students will meet this Thursday to discuss the future of the ROTC on USF’s campus.
While I take a lot of issue with our military – from the inherent patriarchal structure to the anti-gay and homophobic policies – I don’t think banning ROTC on USF’s campus is the best solution, nor will it further USF’s message of trying to teach understanding and social justice.
The ROTC program needs to change its structure and not tolerate any aggression, sexual harassment, or sexual violence.
The ROTC also needs to more carefully screen its students and hold its cadets to higher standards of character so that our future officers are worthy of serving our country. Ideally, I would like it if our country did not need a military, and thus not need programs like ROTC. However, with our current foreign policy, we are probably closer to a draft than to not needing a military at all.
President Obama deployed 17,000 more troops into Afghanistan just last week and our country has reached a one trillion dollar military budget.
The military is here to stay, and while we can’t change a lot of foreign policy we can use the ROTC as way to train more compassionate, educated, social-justice-minded military leaders.
During the panel, one student asked why USF protests the School of the Americas, yet allows ROTC to train in the school’s backyard.
The student failed to make the distinction between the roles of these two organizations: the School of the Americas teaches its officers to kill (resulting in the murders of thousands, including Jesuit priests).
USF ROTC students are educated in a liberal arts curriculum based in social justice. If the students in ROTC are going to be our future military leaders, wouldn’t we want them to receive their education at USF rather than somewhere else?
One of the main problems we have in our military comes from uneducated troops who blindly follow orders.
They lack any historical knowledge or political context as to why it is they are doing what they are doing.
ROTC students at USF attend the same classes as most of us, where we discuss, challenge and debate each other on many different issues from religion to science, from sociology to economics.
There needs to be a sea change in our military, especially around anti-women practices and sexual violence.
We’re never going to be able to fix what is wrong with the military if we don’t start with education.
The ROTC program at USF provides 94 students the opportunity to afford college. In a study conducted by the Pentagon, figures show that the majority of military recruits only have high school degrees and are from lower-income areas.
Right now, there are few other alternatives besides the military if one wants to be able to afford rising college tuition.
Grants, scholarships and loans often do not provide enough financial stability for students to pay for college.
The alternative to not having an ROTC program at all is to have students join the military out of high school.
Until our country can come up with an alternative to the military that guarantees tuition benefits in exchange for public service, programs like ROTC will be the only way many people can attend college at all.
While I understand the arguments for banning the ROTC on our campus, banning any organization or club based on a conflict in ideology is dangerous.
Throughout history, we have learned that any time a group is banned based on its members’ thoughts, actions, or ideas, free speech is compromised.
If USF bans ROTC based on the organization’s message, who is to say that other groups on campus are not next?
What if groups that are thought to be subversive or radical are banned next? Universities need to be a place for universal thoughts and ideas, whatever those ideas may be.
Banning ROTC will not stop the chance of rape on college campuses.
These alleged rapes are the result of one person’s choices and behaviors, and should not be blamed or linked to ROTC.
There needs to be more education regarding sexual violence in the military, and we should use ROTC as the platform to reform what we see wrong.
Stephanie Luu is a senior media studies major with minors in journalism, politics and legal studies.