The Arrival of ROTC

Joshua Camins-Esakov

It’s 6:30am and all around campus students are still sleeping, except for outside of the Beckerman Recreation Center. Twenty something students, from freshmen to seniors, are lined up in two rows and counting off. “One, two, three, one…” The students count in unison following the lead of a senior cadet.

New to the campus this year is the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps or AROTC program. The goal of the ROTC program is to help young men and women become leaders and officers in today’s world. Students in the ROTC program attend one extra class per semester on Military Science, which covers customs, etiquette, tactics, history, and general information about the Army. In addition three times a week, from 6:30 am to 7:30 am, these dedicated cadets meet outside of the Fitness Center to take part in PT (physical training) to improve their strength, endurance, and group cohesion. The last element of the ROTC program is a weekly event known as a “leadership lab.” The lab takes place at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Students carpool to Sacred Heart to practice skills such as orienteering, radio communication, first aid, and squad tactics out in the field.

The reason why each student participates varies, but many students are eligible for an ROTC scholarship, which pays for much of the college education as well as a monthly stipend ranging anywhere from $300 to $500. Does being in ROTC mean you are automatically in the Army? No, absolutely not! Students are given the option to try the program without any obligation for up to two years. Students who take the “un-contracted” path are only required to attend the Military Science class. PT and leadership labs are optional, although highly recommended.

The Army ROTC program is not all work and no play. Students participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, from varsity sports to other ROTC activities such as color guard or Ranger Challenge. The teamwork style of ROTC leads quickly to friendship and companionship; students push each other to become better individuals and leaders. Activities such as the twice a year training weekend (FTX), trips to the rappel, or confidence courses help students understand not only the rigors of the Army, but also their own limitations.

In the end, no matter who you are, cadences (the chants cadets shout out to keep in step) can bring both pride and inspiration. So if you have not considered checking the ROTC program out, please do so!

You may learn something and you’ll have fun along the way!