The University of Michigan and it’s relationship with the military has been continuous as seen with the ROTC. Regardless of what occurred in the Vietnam War, Americans did not criticize the military personnel, but rather the overall Armed Forces. The Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC, is a program for training students to become commissioned officers of the United States Armed Forces. The ROTC program was not established on the University of Michigan campus until 1917 where it still continues to this day. North Hall was the home of the ROTC from 1940 to 2014, until it was demolished to make room for a biology unit. The ROTC was seen as a “positive means of supply capable leadership for the ‘forces of freedom’,” despite the Vietnam War became more unpopular throughout the later sixties. The positive outlook was not shared throughout the campus as seen in a sit-in at North Hall in 1968 protesting the military’s involvement with the university through students.
The University’s direct involvement with the military and international sphere has continuously been questioned and protested throughout the sixties. Faculty strive to achieve a deeper understanding of the Vietnam policy, and engaged the students to become involved. However, students took a more resistant stance on ROTC. Colonel Pell, a former commandment of the ROTC at Harvard before it became defunct stated,
“Today, reliance upon college and universities for officers is greater than ever. For example, the 1968 graduating classes contained over 11,000 newly commissioned officers who, as they enter the ranks of the Active Army, will find 85% of the required annual input need to provide the junior leaders for today’s troops. More than 1,100 of these young men will become career officers to furnish the hardcore leadership for the future.… ROTC is under attack because a small group of student extremists… have played upon the inherent anti-war sentiment shared by a majority of peace-loving, traditionally isolationist Americans.”
The statement declares that the military is reliant upon the ROTC in order to produce officers, and that the Armed Forces will not be able to function without the continuation of the ROTC. There are not any alternative to the ROTC either, despite the numerous opinion against the program.
Students on campus called for the abolition of the ROTC because it sustains military presence. Although students elect to join ROTC, whether it is because they desire to serve for their country or cannot afford school without the program, the students continued their protests. The students involved are supporting the military industrial complex that is enacting the same Vietnam policy that was first protested at the teach-in. As the activism against the ROTC continued, students grew to portray ROTC as a political issue that displays the universities support of the Vietnam War due to the production of Commissioned Officers for the Armed Forces.
The protesting of ROTC culminated in a sit-in at North Hall protesting the military and it’s involvement on campus in 1968.
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