August 23 2022 / Steve Early / Suzanne Gordon / Jacobin - We’ve long known that the US armed forces target poor and working-class students to meet their enlistment goals. But according to a recent report, the military’s JROTC program is also rife with sexual misconduct and outright abuse of young women.
Fifty years ago, no symbol of university complicity with the military angered more students than the on-campus presence of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). The manpower requirements of the Vietnam era could not be met by conscription, draft-driven enlistments, and the graduating classes of military service academies alone. The Department of Defense also needed commissioned officers trained in DOD-funded military science departments at private and state universities.
Anti-ROTC campaigning became a major focus of the campus-based movement against the Vietnam War. Critics demanded everything from stripping ROTC courses of academic credit to, more popularly, kicking the program off campus. Foot-dragging by college trustees, administrators, and faculty members reluctant to cut ties with the military sparked an escalation of protest activity, from peaceful picketing to more aggressive action. ROTC buildings were trashed, bombed, or set on fire — most famously at Kent State University. There, a May 1970 arson attempt triggered a National Guard occupation that led to the fatal shooting of four students (one of them a ROTC cadet) and then the largest student strike in US history.