Most University of San Francisco students have seen members of the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program in uniform participating in physical training on the lawn in front of Gleeson Library, but few students know what exactly ROTC is and how it operates in the USF community. Students walk past the Underhill Building at the foot of Lone Mountain, but rarely realize the significance the small structure has for many cadets in the United States Military. At a Foghorn meeting, many of us, editors and staff members, realized that we are relatively ignorant about what exactly the ROTC program is and what it does for our peers. Thus, we investigated, met with ROTC’s main correspondent Captain Daniel Meany, and concluded that ROTC deserves much more visibility at USF and attention from the Foghorn.
Captain Meany estimates that the ROTC program includes about 80 students, many of which also attend USF, although the program includes students from other institutions in the Bay Area (USF is one of very few institutes of higher education in the Bay Area with an ROTC program). These students, referred to as “cadets” by their commanding officers, come from departments across the university, from business and arts to nursing and hard sciences. Members of the ROTC program are considered part of the “Don’s Battalion,” the all-encompassing term for soldiers in training. When asked what inspires students to join ROTC, Captain Meany explained it simply: “Most students who enroll in ROTC want to serve their country.” Scholarships are also important for the Don’s Battalion- Captain Meany explains that many cadets are sponsored by scholarship programs in exchange for their commitment to the armed forces.
Upon graduation from USF, ROTC students are classified as 2nd Lieutenants, a rank that could put them in charge of a platoon of approximately 20 soldiers. The ROTC program does not often follow up with their graduates, so an estimation of former students currently in Iraq or Afghanistan is not easily found. The Foghorn was specifically curious about the kind of relationship between ROTC and the greater USF community, considering USF’s reputation as a liberal arts school and its location in San Francisco where, in 2006, the Board of Education voted to ban Junior ROTC programs in the city’s high schools. Captain Meany, however, assured the Foghorn that “the University of San Francisco has been tremendously supportive of (the ROTC) program.” The fact that ROTC has existed at USF for so long without ever having a major conflict with the city or administration demonstrates the value USF and the Dons Battalion place on collaboration.
Although ROTC students are a minority on campus, they may play a crucial role in future global affairs. The 2nd Lieutenants from USF will not only go to war to fight an enemy, they may also lead peace keeping missions in countries that USF’s social justice programs are deeply invested in.
Politics aside, ROTC students deserve more attention on campus and the Foghorn plans to make a concerted effort to increase ROTC recognition.
Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy
Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain
Opinion Editor: Laura Waldron