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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Interest in ROTC needs context

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To the Editor:

Your article on student interest in the Reserve Officers’ Training Program (“One percent express interest in off-campus ROTC,” Nov. 7) fails to put the polling numbers into perspective. If 7 percent of students were interested in joining an on-campus ROTC program, as the Herald poll found, this would make ROTC incredibly popular compared to most concentrations at Brown.

According to Brown’s Office of Institutional Research, the most popular concentrations among 2009 graduates were economics (9.4 percent), biological sciences (8.8 percent) and international relations (5.5 percent). In other words, were ROTC a concentration at Brown, it would be the third most popular.

At the end of the day, however, such polling elides a simple fact: Prospective Brown students go elsewhere to pursue their interest in ROTC. Indeed, polling Brown students about their interest in ROTC is akin to surveying attendees of a vegan convention about their interest in hamburgers.

It’s unfair to judge students about their interest in a program that has not existed for over 40 years. This makes it all the more incredible that 7 percent of students expressed interest in an on-campus program. The Herald’s poll should serve as a wake up call for Brown’s leadership, who seem intent on ignoring the opinions of students and alumni in order to keep the U.S. military out of sight and out of mind.

Jonathan Hillman ’09


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