When we think of the College of William and Mary, the image of a military school is far from our minds. Recently, however, our school was ranked in the top 15 percent of military friendly schools by G.I. Jobs magazine, a publication focusing on employment for veterans. While we’re immensely proud to receive this honor — which you can add to the College’s list of prestigious honors — it does come at a surprise. The College isn’t unfriendly to the soldiers and veterans who walk the halls of Wren, Morton or Millington. But, we think that the services the College provides for our men and women in uniform are less than stellar, or perhaps just poorly publicized.
At Virginia Tech and other institutions of higher education around the state, there are more ROTC programs than the one the College has for the Army. There are ROTC branches covering the diverse range of military service. Also, other universities have classes at night and online to accommodate the lives of those individuals — military or not — that have other obligations, maybe to families or their countries or both. Yes, we have courses offered in the late afternoon, but for a person with a partner or children it isn’t the most convenient situation.
Furthermore, the culture of the College is not very inclusive. We pride ourselves on being of one Tribe, yet it is hard for non-twenty-somethings to adjust to the school. Think about it: How many non-traditional students do you see in your classes? What about your clubs or organizations? Not a lot. And while this affects all non-traditional students, not just veterans, we believe that veterans must have the hardest adjustment in adopting the role of a college student.
The College does offer veteran-supportive programs and benefits. Tuition for veterans is discounted, and all veterans pay in-state tuition, regardless of residence. The school also provides special counseling services to veterans and those in uniform. As a whole, the College isn’t an unfriendly place for the military, but we’re not sure that the College is a top 15 percent-worthy military friendly school.
Granted, this area is also not known for being heavily populated by veterans. Yes, there is the base in Norfolk an hour to our south and Fort Lee in Petersburg an hour to our west.
It also seems that up until the tragic loss of alumnus Lt. Todd Weaver ’08 in 2010, our students in the military seemed an almost non-existent or at least quiet group. It was only due misfortune that the veteran population of campus became prominent, but we would like to see this group be recognized more often as an integral part of the College community.
We commend the school for supporting its veterans and service people. We would just like to see the supposed excellence our school gives to them. Our service men and women have our utmost respect. And we’d like to see the College be visibly enabling them in their quest to be part of our community, our Tribe.