National Guard works to protect its students’ academic progress

by Anne Preller

If University students are called to duty by the National Guard or other reserve units, they might return to find a semester’s worth of credits erased.

But a National Guard committee is creating legislation to safeguard students’ academic progress.

“We have had service members have their educational pursuits hurt when they are called to active service,” said John Brossart, a judge advocate and legal adviser for the Minnesota National Guard. “We encourage members of the National Guard to further their education.”

Approximately 3,000 of Minnesota’s 12,000 National Guard members are currently taking advantage of the educational opportunities.

While there are state and federal laws protecting soldiers’ employment interests, “in Minnesota there are no analogous protections for students attending school,” Brossart said.

“The goal that we are trying to accomplish is to draft some legislation that would provide uniform protections,” Brossart said.

To provide protection for military members without affecting higher education institutions, the National Guard is working with University professor and vice provost Craig Swan and Morrie Anderson, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

Swan said the possibility of military students being called to active duty is not realistic, but it might be an issue in the future.

“It’s easier to address something before the fact than after the fact,” Swan said.

According to state law, students who are called to active military duty are entitled to a full tuition and fees refund if they withdraw from classes to serve.

The legislation will attempt to create flexibility for students desiring to return to their education following their term of military service.

“We ask our soldiers and airmen to sacrifice in many ways,” Brossart said. “It’s important that we try to take care of their interests in areas that are important to their present and future well-being, and their educational pursuits.”

Anne Preller covers student life and
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