Response to ‘Demilitarizing the “military-industrial academic complex”‘

Last week, I was sitting in a classroom on West Bank waiting for my class to start when I read something disconcerting in a recent letter to the editor. By this, I am talking about the complete demonization of military ties to University of Minnesota life.

To begin, from 2006 to 2014 there had been no issues with the use of M-16s by the University’s Police Department. Nobody has been harmed by these weapons, yet the UMPD has been the subject of criticism for accepting tools to train with.

Firing a weapon multiple times in training can degrade how the weapon functions. By using M-16s, which are fairly similar to the AR-15s, the UMPD would be able to maintain the integrity of the AR-15s the UMPD currently possesses. In an active-shooter situation on campus, I would much rather have the UMPD’s AR-15s working properly than risk possible weapon malfunctions from overuse.

The criticism of a military presence on campus did not cease at weapons alone in the letter, as the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps was singled out as having ties with the military. The largest complaint was about federal funding.

The question then becomes, what harm does the ROTC inflict on the University? From what I can tell, a relatively small program is providing funding to help the entire student body thrive. The ROTC provides leadership and skills training for students who wish to become commissioned officers in the armed forces.

These are the men and women who will one day be responsible for the lives of their subordinates. Ridding the University of the ROTC would be a detriment to the safety of the men and women serving in the military, as it would deny important leadership building and decision making opportunities to future officers.

Finally, the closing line provides the end goal — to completely demilitarize the University. To this end I ask, are we back in post-Vietnam War America?

Looking to completely demilitarize a campus would be ridding it of men and women who have fought for America in these so called “dirty wars.” The veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan who have sweat, cried, lost and bled for this nation now appear to find themselves unwelcomed at an institution which strides for “tolerance” and “acceptance.”

The University tends to be neither tolerant nor accepting if you happen to wear a uniform or any clothing identifying your service. In times like these, I am ashamed to be a Gopher.