University News

Report urges increased veteran recruitment

Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Undergraduate Veterans Subcommittee of the Diversity Advisory Board released a report last month highlighting the issues that undergraduate U.S. military student veterans face and discussing how the University can ease some of these difficulties.

The report, entitled, “From the Military to College Hill: The Undergraduate Experience of Student Veterans at Brown,” was born out of a need to reevaluate the experience of student veterans. 

Currently, six student veterans are enrolled at the University.

“Historically, veterans have been far better represented at Brown, and now they’re a tiny, miniscule faction,” said R. Tyson Smith, a postdoctoral fellow in sociology and a member of the subcommittee responsible for the report. The report comes out of a year’s work by the committee tasked with reviewing a list of 2009 recommendations made by student veteran Chaney Harrison RUE’11.5. 

Ricky Gresh, senior director for student engagement and chair of the subcommittee, said the group used Harrison’s recommendations as a “springboard.”  

Student veterans said they have found areas where the University can make a difference in their experiences. “It’s not something that Brown’s doing wrong, but it’s something that Brown can help improve,” said Lauren Rouse ’15, an Air Force Reserve Officer on active duty orders this year. Veterans occasionally need to travel for their service and could use extensions on schoolwork, she said.

The report ultimately offered four recommendations for improvements of the student veteran experience. 

The report states that by creating a “critical mass” of undergraduate veterans, the University can improve its diversity profile, Gresh said. The formation of this demographic would depend upon support from admissions and financial aid, according to the report.

“I know people that I’d never have met if I weren’t at Brown,” Rouse said. “I think veterans offer a new perspective to most students, which is what Brown is all about.”

The other main categories of recommendations involve recognizing military service, establishing formal academic and social support for student veterans and making an effort to change the campus’ attitude toward the military. 

The report states that Brown needs to shift its reputation from a school that is “at best, indifferent to military service” to one that greatly values it. Rouse said she hopes Brown can “dissolve the stigma” student veterans feel coming on campus.

“Even though there’s no anti-military sentiment on campus, the silence can be very negative,” she said. “If something isn’t talked about or seen, it can feel like you don’t want to be seen.”

In light of the issues student veterans face, the report offers a “roadmap” of the next steps the University can take, Gresh said. It details immediate actions as well as long-term recommendations. Some have already been put into place, such as a new website and a more involved Veteran’s Day event. Others will require implementation through other institutional channels, Gresh said.

Rouse said that simply raising awareness about these issues is important. “It’s a big step forward as far as getting a voice for veterans,” she said. “It’s great that the University has put us on the radar.”

The subcommittee has completed its work, and it will now be up to the University to implement these recommendations, Gresh said, adding that the group is working to ensure the recommendations will be reviewed by the correct University committees.

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