BY BECKY LITTLE
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, nine Mary Washington Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets meet at the Fitness Center at 7 a.m. for an hour of Physical Training.
On Tuesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., they have a course in military science at the Fredericksburg Virginia Army National Guard armory, and on Thursdays they drive over to George Mason University for four-hour training labs.
Although there is no official Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at UMW, students like sophomore Patrick Connelly, a member of the Army Reserve, have been taking part in an ROTC program this year through Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
According to the U.S Army’s recruitment website, www.goarmy.com, ROTC is a college-based, officer commissioning military program. It is designed as a series of college elective course focused on military history, skills, leadership and training.
Next year, Mary Washington may include these military science classes in the course catalogue, giving students who participate in the class academic credit at the university.
“Our immediate goal is to get military science classes approved for academic credit and the courses listed in the UMW catalog beginning next fall,” said Major Kenneth Dombroski, assistant professor of military science at George Mason University.
“Due to office and classroom space limitations at UMW, we anticipate that ROTC classes will continue to be held at the Guard armory for the next few years,” he added.
Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Rosemary Barra presented the proposal to include military science courses in the course catalogue before the Academic Affairs Committee Tuesday, Feb. 10.
“If [the Academic Affairs Committee] want[s] to take something forward, it would go to the Faculty Senate,” said Barra. “It would require faculty approval to award academic credit for the ROTC courses.”
The 100- and 200-level ROTC classes are open to all students; however, 300- and 400-level classes require that a student sign a contract to serve an eight-year period of service with the Army, including three years as active duty members. Students who receive a scholarship through the ROTC program are also obligated to serve, according to the website.
“It’s really leadership development courses,” said Connelly. “It teaches you how to lead other people and how to be responsible for yourself and for others.”
The introductory level courses also provide students with experience beyond the classroom.
“We have lab classes sometimes that are held on weekends, and we’ll go repelling and rock-climbing, fire weapons and learn how to aim at stuff—things of that nature,” said Connelly. “It’s all really a lot of fun.”
Though freshman Jack Melcher, a contracted cadet who won a four-year scholarship through the Army, admits that some students are not supportive of ROTC programs, he believes that there are more people who are in support of it.
“On class days we have to wear our uniforms,” said Melcher. “Just by walking around, people seem to get interested. It’s bringing a lot of good attention at a time when there’s a lot of bad attention coming to the Army. I think it’s good for the school, mainly because it’s giving us a different side that we didn’t have before.”
“It’s the last thing you would think of [when] coming to a liberal arts school, to have an ROTC program,” said Connelly. “But at the same time, I think it’s a really good thing to keep an open mind and to have an open curriculum—to allow all different lifestyles and all different ideas to be present even if someone disagrees. It’s a great thing to allow that to be around.”