Students comment on military designation

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September 23, 2011

1:42 AM

G.I. Jobs Magazine recently identified the College of William and Mary as a military-friendly school. The publication, which focuses on helping veterans find employment and make the transition into civilian life, reviewed more than 7,000 universities and gave the designation to what it considered the top 15 to 20 percent.

The magazine used several criteria to determine which schools would earn their seal of approval.
“[Military-friendly schools are] those that have done the most to provide a sense of community on campus and have done the most to recruit and retain students with military experience,” Senior Brand Manager for G.I. Jobs Magazine Sean Collins said.

In addition to waiving the application fee for veterans, offering tuition discounts and in-state tuition without residency requirements for veterans, and participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, the College is also home to a long-established Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, a full-time Veterans’ Administration and benefits specialist in the office of the University Registrar, and an on-campus veterans group, the Veterans Society of William and Mary.

“[It] is great that we were noticed as a military-friendly school,” Office Manager of the military science department Brian Randall said. “I have seen over the years that I’ve been here … more and more support for the military from the William and Mary community, starting at the top with the president.”

The School of Education also offers free, confidential counseling to students with military experience as part of the New Horizons Family Counseling Center. The Marshall-Wythe School of Law’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic assists veterans and their families in applying for VA benefits and offers referrals to external resources.

“We value diversity of all kinds,” Associate Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admission Henry Broaddus said. “One of the most important facets of diversity comes from life experience. Enrolling veterans as undergraduates … brings a kind of experience and a kind of perspective that we believe is valuable to the social fabric of the campus community … [and] classroom dynamics.”

Yet Broaddus said the College does not offer the same military accommodations that other peer institutions do.

“We’re not as veteran-friendly and accessible as ODU [Old Dominion University] or a place that’s going to be able to offer things like night classes and part-time enrollment … That’s not the kind of institution William and Mary is, but there are still plenty of veterans for whom William and Mary is a great match,” he said.

Despite the new designation, some students affiliated with the military on and off-campus expressed dissatisfaction with accommodations made for military personnel at the College.

One current student and member of the armed forces, who asked that his name be withheld out of concern that he would face repercussions, disagreed with G.I. Magazine’s ranking.

“I wouldn’t say that William and Mary is a military-unfriendly school,” he said. “I think some of the professors are quite liberal in the sense that they [think]… ‘we don’t really need a military’ or that kind of thing.”

He did not find the law school benefits clinic helpful.

“I went there and asked for their help and they said ‘we don’t help with that, we help with other things … [like] compensation and pensions mostly,’” he said. “I thought it was a little strange to have a law clinic that was kind of conditional.”

Alex Muth ’11, currently a cadet in the Virginia Army National Guard and member of the Army ROTC program, disagreed.

“All of my experiences with William and Mary from a military perspective have been pretty top notch,” he said. “[The VA benefits specialist] has been great about contacting me for any programs that have been offered or if they’re having a speaker, or contacting me about any benefits I could be eligible for. In addition, for any commitment that I’ve had with the National Guard, because I drill once a month, I’ve never had an issue with professors. I’ve been able to work out my schedule with them.”

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