The Student Center has become occupied territory.
The Army ROTC Red Diamond Battalion of Temple University can be seen in fatigues, with rifles in tow, practicing military drills, squad tactics and M-16 rifle maintenance in the crowded halls of the third floor in the Student Center.
Scenes of Temple’s mini-militia, marching and saluting, and screaming “Bang! Bang! Bang!” are unnerving, but ROTC is not a program of paint ball or war games.
It is a legitimate course of study.
ROTC is a college elective that students can try out for up to two years.
In the program, students learn leadership development, military skills and adventure training, studies that will supposedly prepare them for success in any walk of life – decorated military officer or Joe-average civilian.
But ROTC is also a sweet deal.
ROTC scholarships pay full tuition and required fees.
They also provide a stipend for each academic month, and an allowance for books, supplies and other educational items.
As civic minded as government financed education may seem, the goal of the ROTC program is not an educated public, but a strong Army.
That mission is accomplished by dangling free tuition in the faces of financially strapped students, and demanding their service after their studies are completed.
In return for the free ride, after the first year, those selected for ROTC scholarships have a commitment to the Army to either serve part time in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, or full time on active duty.
The ROTC program provides the government with a steady supply of Army officers, producing 75 percent of all Army officers.
And for all of its global intruding, America needs dedicated people to protect its interests – both democratic and capitalistic.
But the government should also provide full scholarships to those who want to serve their country and be all they can be in other areas, outside of the military.
Instead of recruiting and training students to plan ambushes and toss hand grenades, the government should provide students with the incentive, and the means, to serve as teachers, nurses and other socially worthwhile professions, professions that are in short supply and high demand.