Since Sept. 11, the routine of the University”s Reserve Officers” Training Corps students has not changed. They continue the same physical training and take the same leadership classes but their attitudes toward these activities are different.
“The training that we are doing, I feel more pressure to really learn it well and understand it. Before it was important, but it was peace time, now there is more of a possibility we could be out there,” said Isabel Moreno, a Nursing sophomore and Army ROTC cadet. “In school too, anatomy is not something I can learn for the test and forget. I really need to understand it.”
LSA junior and Army cadet Sukwon Chang also said he takes his training far more seriously. Chang said he can imagine a real battle situation when he is training in the Arb with other cadets, and that he has begun rereading Army strategy books.
“You can”t do anything to standard if you don”t read (strategy) enough,” Chang said.
ROTC trains students to become officers and future military leaders. In order to be an officer, one must have a college degree. Right now, the military needs ROTC participants to continue their studies and training, so that in the future they will be prepared to lead troops.
But for Karen Mesko, an LSA junior and Air Force cadet, staying in school has been frustrating at times.
“I talked to our captain and asked if I could get commissioned earlier, but she said no, because I have to finish the ROTC program. It was hard to focus on school, because I really didn”t want to be here, I wanted to be there,” she said.
Other cadets echoed that sentiment.
“If I had to go right now, I”d definitely go,” Chang said, but added that he would prefer peace.
“I”d like to avoid war, if possible, but this world doesn”t allow it at this time,” he said.
“I”m all for peace. We like to train, but not really kill people. Pilots don”t like bombing people. Peace is the best way, but sometimes you have to put your fist down,” said Air Force Wing Commander and LSA senior Jermaine Jordan.
Chang said his parents, like those of other cadets, were concerned for his future after the war in Afghanistan began. It is unlikely any ROTC cadets will be called up before graduation, but Chang said his family is still nervous.
“They”re worried because they think it might be a long conflict. My ambitions to be a ranger (a special forces unit of the Army) don”t help. The rangers are one of the primary forces in Afghanistan,” Chang said.
Many cadets agreed Sept. 11 was a defining moment for their generation.
“It”s something I think about every day. It tells us we are not invincible. Our freedom is their weapon. Yes, we are free, but there are people who are willing to exploit those freedoms,” Jordan said.
“I think we”ve been living in a sheltered age where we were not affected. I think this opens up our eyes, especially college students. It”s no longer just on TV. People have been affected personally, they”ve felt anger and sadness,” Chang said.
Chang and Jordan said they have not noticed a big change in attitudes of other students, but do say more people are curious about ROTC, as well as being open with patriotic sentiment.
“Mostly there is just more discussion about September 11. However, when I went to pick up my date”s corsage for a recent dance, the clerk said, “Thank you for protecting our country.””