Stage Lighting & Ceramics—More Important Than National Defense?

Posted: Apr 09, 2007 10:45 AM
Stage Lighting & Ceramics—More Important Than National Defense?

Well, they are according to the College of William and Mary.

You see, the second oldest school in the nation currently does not offer students full graduation credit for studying in its Department of Military Science, better known as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). And by so doing, William & Mary is deterring students from serving their country.

ROTC students take courses in military science during all four years of college, learning everything from the technical skills of map reading and marching to the qualitative skills of organizational leadership and management. That’s why the private sector and MBA programs both seek out former military officers—because of their ROTC training and their experience as managers and leaders.

Yet, an ROTC cadet at William and Mary receives a paltry six credits for graduation from military science courses, after having to devote an average of four hours per week during all four years to the study of military science. And, that commitment does not include required physical training time. Adding it all up, ROTC cadets spent around 320 more hours in the classroom and training compared with their civilian counterparts during college—basically taking on another two months of work AND for less credit!

At William & Mary, a student can, however, earn three credits towards graduation for taking Theater 211 “Introduction to Stage Lighting,” as can a student taking Art 327, “Hand-building Ceramics,” or even Art 211: “Two-dimensional Foundations.”

The latter’s course description reads an “introduction to visual expressive concerns through lectures and projects in drawing, color and design as they function two-dimensionally.” Sounds rather similar to learning how to read, draw, and communicate with maps—something taught in the Department of Military Science.

Courses in SCUBA diving, Judo, and rock-climbing all receive one credit each per semester, with ROTC physical training continuing to receive none.

Fortunately, sophomore (and ROTC cadet) Matt Pinsker thinks William & Mary’s course accreditation for military science needs to change. After single-handedly deciding to tackle this inequity, Matt has reached out to his fellow students and has garnered their support, both from the Left and the Right.

Tuesday night, the William & Mary Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution demanding the school’s administration and Board of Visitors correct this anti-military bias immediately.

According to its audited financial statements, William & Mary expended just under $275 million in 2006. Of that, Virginia’s taxpayers provided nearly $72 million in direct funding, while the Federal treasury provided over $38 million more.

For roughly $110 million from taxpayers, William & Mary should be doing all it can to encourage voluntary military service among its students, particularly by giving credit where credit is due—for courses in the Department of Military Science. Other public Virginia schools do; James Madison University even offers a minor in military science for students who complete ROTC training.

As Ronald Reagan said, “we’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.”

Like it or not, our military serves as freedom’s first and last line of defense the world over. The absence of a military, much less the presence of a weak military, will do nothing to ameliorate our enemies or to wish away the nasty realities of the world. That’s simply a fact we have to accept.