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According to the ROTC website, the main goal of training is to provide the foundations necessary to build competent and confident leaders for the military.
ROTC is a college elective officer-commissioning program, which focuses on leadership development, problem solving, strategic planning and professional ethics.
The website states that this is accomplished through a set classroom curriculum as well as the Leadership Laboratory, where cadets learn the basics: land navigation, small-unit tactics, marching, and marksmanship and individual movement techniques.
However, the ROTC program doesn’t seem to be common knowledge among some CU students.
Julia Prims, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major, said she is unclear about what ROTC is exactly.
“Isn’t that the military sorta program?” Prims said. “I don’t know much about it. I just know about uniform Thursday. I assume it pays for school?”
Kyle Fauss, a 19-year-old freshman English major, said he has a better idea of the ROTC program.
“It’s a military program where you do basic drills,” Fauss said. “By the time you’re done, you can enter into the military as a lieutenant instead of a private.”
Some members of ROTC say that, to them, it is not just a military program but an opportunity to gain the skills necessary to become a confident problem-solving officer in the armed forces.
“Overall, I have to say I’m a lot more confident in my decisions and abilities than when I started,” said Karrissa Garza, a 19-year-old junior international affairs and political science double major. “I know that I can figure out a way to handle quite a bit and not have any regrets.”
Garza said she wanted to join because she wanted to try the military before committing.
“Part of the reason I joined ROTC was because I was not sure what to expect and wanted to try out the military more or less before I actually committed, which was something [Air Force ROTC] would allow me to do,” she said.
Garza also said that before she joined, everyone in ROTC seemed exceptionally intimidating and took pleasure in being tough, but those perceptions changed soon after she joined.
“People are much warmer,” she said. “They do take good care of each other and don’t usually fit the stereotype.”
Evan Hanson, a 19-year-old sophomore international affairs major, said he had the opposite experience. He said he thought he was going to be challenged, and that has turned out to be the case.
“I joined [Air Force ROTC] with the expectation that I was going to be challenged in every aspect of my life,” Hanson said. “I have found this to be very true among Air Force cadets, and this is part of the reason why I have enjoyed this experience so much.”
Garza said that this year she is enrolled in an Air Force leadership class, in which she and her classmates discuss leadership theories as well as read, discuss and do projects that incorporate the various skills of leaders and managers.
“I generally like it,” Garza said. “It’s a pretty intimate setting since this is my third year of class with the same cadets, and we do a lot of interactive things in class.”
David Marifern, an 18-year-old freshman international affairs major, said in order to stay in ROTC, it’s imperative to keep a GPA of 2.5 or higher, do well on semester fitness tests, and do not drink if under 21 or do drugs.
ROTC takes abstinence serious in terms of drinking and drugs, Marifern said. Failing a drug test will result in immediate dismissal from the unit. For drinking, the punishment ranges from a warning to expulsion.
Marifern also said in order to teach ROTC members the proper way to act when they’re on active duty, ROTC members are taught to dress nice, look presentable and act nice.
On Thursday, ROTC members wear their uniforms. Hanson said this is done to get used to wearing the uniform and to make sure members are wearing all the components correctly. Wearing the uniform is also a reflection of one’s character.
“It’s just to frankly get used to wearing the uniform in general,” he said. “And hold a higher standard. It’s a reflection of your character to make sure you’re in check.”
Marifern said that one way to be a member of ROTC is to get an ROTC scholarship in high school, which is how he joined the program.
Marifern said he received a Marine Option Naval ROTC scholarship while in high school and said he is confident that he made the right decision.
“I’m really confident I’m doing something that’s right to me,” he said. “The amount of leadership education you get is phenomenal.”
Unlike Marifern, Garza said she did not receive an ROTC scholarship in high school. Garza said she received her scholarship last year as a sophomore, and it was based on grades, ranking in her cadet class, physical fitness and an exam similar to the SATs.
Hanson and Marifern said that students should only join ROTC if they are serious about wanting to be in the armed forces.
“For people who join for the right reasons, it can be great,” Hanson said. “It’s better than the academies or just enlisting.”
Garza said she believes ROTC is an opportunity for young people to get a good education and receive training to become officers, and the program produces members that make the military stronger.
“Not only does [ROTC] offer life-changing opportunities for students like myself, but it makes the military and government stronger, more flexible and agile,” she said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lindsay Wilcocks at Lindsay.firstname.lastname@example.org.