HALL OF WONDERS
TREE OF LIFE
ROTC ON REVIEW
From 1984 to 1988, I had the privilege of administering the oath of office
at the campus commissions ceremony for the Tufts graduating ensigns and lieutenants.
Today I continue to salute the Tufts cadets and midshipmen for their four-year
efforts at the MIT campus to qualify for commissions in the United States military
What great future assets for our country to have such dedicated students from schools such as Tufts entering military leadership positions. The article, however, raised several questions and concerns about how the ROTC program has changed over the years. Why was there no mention of whether ROTC students receive course credit from Tufts for their studies? Why are ROTC students drilling at MIT instead of on the Tufts campus? Dan Crenshaw commented that he never felt uncomfortable among fellow undergraduates but quickly added that he rarely wore his uniform on campus. Is the Tufts community comfortable with the ROTC program?
The present ROTC program does not appear to be sponsored by Tufts, as it was in the past. It consists of a few select and dedicated Tufts students who make the additional off-campus time necessary to complete their arduous four-year course program.
This brings to mind a period when Tufts military graduates saw the university turn its back on them while they were on active duty overseas. Many of us have never forgotten this knee-jerk reaction by Tufts and have never received any closure. As a result, many of us still feel alienated from our alma mater. I believe Tufts has lost goodwill from former students and continues to lose thousands, if not millions, in financial contributions. This is rather sad.
Nevertheless, we welcome the new Tufts student ROTC program, and trust that
it will continue to actively expand. If we former military graduates can offer
any support in any way, we are ready to do so. We send the ROTC students, as
well as all students at Tufts, our very best wishes for success in the future.
During my time at Tufts I had the opportunity to know a few ROTC cadets, and came away with respect for their hard work, thoughtfulness, and intelligence. While I have serious reservations about the military and the world’s seeming addiction to violence, I did get the sense that those cadets were the best the military had to offer.
That said, your article omits an essential question: can the vaunted values of a liberal arts education—critical thinking, questioning and acting on those judgments—survive in a hierarchical structure in which soldiers are subservient to fundamentally illiberal politicians, Democratic and Republican alike? While it is certainly better that soldiers be grounded in liberal arts values, “enlightened and thoughtful officers” are
still beholden to the will of their civilian commanders. As talented and hardworking
as they may be, I doubt cadets from Tufts can transpose liberal values to the
I’m certain other readers, particularly those of us who experienced the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, were as astounded by this faux pas as I was. I believe what we have here is another example in which someone’s words (in this case Martin Luther King Jr.’s)
have entered everyday speech, only to have the nature and context of those
words forgotten a generation or two later.