GA to WM: More credit for ROTC

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January 23, 2009

1:15 AM

The Virginia General Assembly voted 93-0 Wednesday in favor of a resolution encouraging Virginia universities to award full academic credit to students participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The bill was sponsored by Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66), with over 40 delegates signing on as co-patrons of the bill.

“The committee and later the full House unanimously passed my ROTC Resolution as a show of support for those willing to serve our nation,” Cox said. “The resolution requests Virginia colleges and universities to fully support our young men and women in the ROTC program by providing full academic credit.”

Matt Pinsker ’09, who has been campaigning for over two years to increase the number of ROTC credit hours at the College of William and Mary, testified in front of the Education Committee Monday along with Mike Campbell ’09. The committee approved the bill, voting 22-0 in favor.

“Matt Pinsker’s and Mike Campbell’s firsthand review of the William and Mary ROTC program gave the committee members a good appreciation for the extra course work ROTC students must take to graduate from certain Virginia universities,” Cox said.

Because the resolution is non-binding, the decision to increase ROTC credits will ultimately lie with the individual school administrations. Most institutions in Virginia currently view ROTC as an elective program, which means that not all credits earned in ROTC classes count toward graduation. The amount of credits awarded varies by school even though the course work is similar throughout all programs.

Pinsker explained that the ROTC programs at Christopher Newport University and the College share the same textbook and many of the same professors, but CNU students earn 28 credits toward graduation, while College students earn eight.

“[The College’s military science department] is the only department where not all credits earned count toward graduation, which forces cadets to take an overload,” Pinsker said. “This isn’t fair.”

The campaign to increase ROTC’s credit hours began in 2007, when the Student Assembly passed a bill encouraging the administration to count all credits earned in the ROTC program toward graduation. This led the administration to increase the hours toward graduation from six to eight — not nearly as much as Pinsker or the bill’s sponsors had hoped.

“Delegate Cox was actively involved, corresponding with everyone to support the bill,” Pinkser said of Cox’s commitment to the campaign.

To bring this issue to the state level, Pinsker enlisted the help of the Military Officers Association, an organization that lobbies state and federal legislatures on behalf of the military.

“I approached MOA with this issue, and they recognized its importance and added it to their agenda,” Pinsker said.

Those who opposed increasing the credits at the College questioned ROTC’s academic difficulty, as well as its role at a liberal arts institution, Pinsker said. Because ROTC cadets receive an officer commission upon completing the program, some have argued that it is actually vocational training. Pinsker believes that the ROTC program can be part of the College’s liberal arts curriculum, as the coursework focuses on leadership skills.

“ROTC teaches you how to lead others,” Pinsker said. “Where in life is leadership not applicable?”

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