University’s ROTC ranked top in the nation

Minnesota’s ROTC beat out 273 other battalions for the honor.

James Schlemmer

Reserves Officers’ Training Corps have been on campus since the University’s establishment in 1851. For the first time, the University ROTC received recognition as the No. 1 program in the country.

The University received the award from The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America last month. OFPA was established in 1896, but its ancestry is believed to date back to the American Revolution.

The Order, among other objectives, aims to promote patriotism and admiration for the founders and patriots of America.

The University ROTC beat out 273 other battalions for the honor.

The OFPA honor is based on a number of criteria, including cadet grade point average and military test scores. ROTC battalions from all over the country submit results. There are two regional winners (east and west) and one overall winner, which went to the University.

According to Maj. Rick Johnson, an assistant professor of military science, about

70 percent of all new lieutenants come from the ROTC program.

The ROTC teaches leadership, decision-making, communication and basic military skills, he said.

Retention and recruitment rates are also important criteria in judging a program’s performance. In 2004, the University ROTC had 47 cadets. Currently, they have 93 cadets.

Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Waidzulis, a kinesiology senior, said he is pleased with the honor but not surprised.

“It’s a great compliment, but it should be expected,” he said. “We’re trained to be good leaders, and being only second best is not acceptable.”

Capt. Timothy Kemp, assistant professor of military science, said the honor is a tribute to the dedication of the students.

“For them to put ROTC on top of all they do as students – that shows their commitment,” he said.

Women’s studies senior and adviser to the Anti-War Organizing League Tracy Molm said groups like the ROTC shouldn’t be encouraged.

“There is no reason to have such military presence on campus,” she said, “other than trying to be violent.”

Molm said there are bigger priorities on campus that aren’t getting the rightful attention.

“The whole country, including the ‘U,’ has its priorities screwed up,” she said. “No other special interest group has a space on campus. Tuition continues to go up, but the government continues to find money to fund the war in Iraq.”

Lt. Col. Curt Cooper, professor of military science, said the ROTC helps train students in areas that reach further than military service.

“It’s the best leadership in the country, if not the world, and (we) wind up making the best officers in the world,” he said. “They come here for leadership skills and problem-solving skills, which help them in everything they do.”

Waidzulis said he doesn’t feel that the ROTC has been affected by the recent war in Iraq any more than it would be in a time of peace.

“The training doesn’t change,” he said. “You try to train as hard as you can and hope for the best.”

Molm said the ROTC is necessary in a time of war, but she doesn’t think war is necessary.

“If we need to have any war Ö we do need an ROTC,” she said. “But do we need war?”

Molm also said she thinks students participating in ROTC are being lied to by recruiters who stoop to low levels to get students involved.

Waidzulis said everyone involved in ROTC is there because they want to be.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the army as a kid,” he said. “It is the best fit for me, to best use my talent Ö it’s the best leadership development.”