(This is a viewpoint that appeared in the January 28, 2010 Marquette Tribune}
Four years ago, in the January 26, 2006 issue of the Marquette Tribune, I wrote a viewpoint titled: “ROTC has no place at MU.” My viewpoint and my character were widely attacked by readers of the Marquette Tribune. Despite these attacks I pursued the truth of this moral and ethical question of military training on a Catholic university campus. After some research and discussion with friends, faculty and students, including MU ROTC students, I have changed my viewpoint.
After the military selective service draft ended in 1972, the military made major changes in the officer training programs of the Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. The military sought department status at select universities like Marquette. Now with department status the military curriculum was significantly changed. For example, the Army put emphasis on military values, like loyalty taking priority over religious values such as the priority of conscience in the Catholic catechism. New techniques, like reflexive fire drills which is killing on reflex without conscience, were implemented to increase the effective use of weapons to kill the enemy. The number of soldiers who fired their weapons in battle has increased from 25% in World War II to 95% in the present wars. With these changes many schools decided to drop military training programs on campus due to moral, ethical and academic concerns.
To stop this refusal of universities and colleges to include ROTC programs, in 1996 congress passed the Solomon Amendment. This law allows the Secretary of Defense to deny federal grants (including research grants) to institutions of higher education if they prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. ROTC must be offered on all but pacifist campuses.
The overwhelming majority of universities and colleges responded by becoming military partner schools. ROTC partner schools like Harvard and Columbia nationally or Concordia & Mount Mary locally, are eligible for ROTC military scholarships and these schools qualify for all Federal Funding. However, ROTC students from these universities, for military training classes and exercises, go to military facilities known as military Host schools. This way partner schools can avoid teaching war and values contrary to the academic, ethical and moral standards the schools were founded on, at their own campuses.
Marquette University freely chose to be a military host school for the Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. Marquette University trains military officer students from fourteen regional colleges and universities and is only one of two universities in Wisconsin to host training in all the branches of the military. Host military schools, like Marquette, surrender oversight of the military curriculum and give creditability to the teaching of war and military values that often contradict the values and principles that they claim to espouse. For more information on teaching war and values contrary to the Gospel at MU check www.nonviolentcow.org .
Yes, ROTC indeed has a place at Marquette, as required by law. But the teaching of war and values contrary to the Catholic Faith and Gospel has no place at MU.
Bob Graf (MU student 61′−65′ & 67′−68′)