College’s ROTC program offers military training, leadership development through rigorous requirements

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COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

Many universities in the United States offer Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, and the College of William and Mary is no exception. These ROTC programs include specializations in the Air Force, Army and the Navy, and are all designed to train commissioned officers within the U.S. Armed Forces.

The specific program offered at the College is the Army ROTC. Its curriculum focuses on physical training and leadership skill development, and also incorporates coursework in military science. The program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students and requires students to complete several course requirements during their time in Williamsburg.

John Ezzard ’23, an international relations major and a member of the College’s ROTC program, said that his participation in the program is a significant time investment.

“It’s a time commitment,” Ezzard said. “Freshmen and sophomores only get one credit for the military science class. Juniors and seniors get two credits, so we don’t get credit hours really like one or two credits, not significant compared to the amount of work.”

The Army program at the College involves physical training three times a week, which Ezzard said is usually scheduled from around 5:50 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., even though the trainings occassionaly begin even earlier. Ezzard added that the cadets who complain and make excuses for their absences often have trouble coping with the physical training and waking up early, which he said illustrates the importance of maintaining a positive attitude throughout the more intense requirements of the program.

“Honestly, I feel like a big part of ROTC is like the attitude that the cadets have,” Ezzard said.

“Honestly, I feel like a big part of ROTC is like the attitude that the cadets have.”

Ezzard said that he has enjoyed participating in the College’s ROTC program, though sometimes he does not enjoy some of the program’s more strict requirements.

“I try to approach things positively. Frankly, there are some times when I don’t really want to be doing certain things,” Ezzard said.

Ezzard says that most of the cadets engage in physical training individually.

“PT is helpful and it’s fun, but the PT that we have three days a week, I don’t think it’s enough for a cadet to be where they want physically,” Ezzard said.

Cadets also take a physical training test consisting of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run.

“If you look at it from the perspective of like what people do, like what they’re interested in I think it’s pretty diverse.”

“It’s part of our grade,” Ezzard said. “If students, the cadets, don’t do well on the PT test, then it affects their grade. And if they score below a 70 on any of the events, they have to go to what’s called remedial PT. So, then they would have to go on a Friday at six in the morning to work out.”

Due to recently enacted COVID-19 policies that closed the College’s campus for the remainder of the spring semester, Ezzard said that the cadets will have to deviate from their usual on-campus routine. Like many other classes, his military science course is transitioning to an online format. For physical training, they plan to use Excel spreadsheets to log the exercises they did that day.

“If you look at it from the perspective of like what people do, like what they’re interested in I think it’s pretty diverse,” Ezzard said.Ezzard noted that the College’s ROTC program enjoys gender parity, and said that the program features a large number of female cadets. However, he says that diversity is lacking in terms of race and ethnicity, which he sees as a potential issue for the program moving forward. Regardless of the people that make up the program, they all bring something unique to the table in terms of their experiences and interests.