University students are now able to participate in a University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program with training heldat Rutgers University, a program that is now offered following a decades-long hiatus.
NROTC had remained active until 1971 whenthe program ended at many college campuses amid protests against the Vietnam War. Although Captain Philip Roos, commanding officer of the NROTC program at Rutgers and the University, said in February that logistics had not been worked out, he noted that there are currently 34 midshipmen enrolled from Rutgers and the University, including students on scholarships and one midshipman from the University, Christina Onianwa ’18.
Unlike their Army ROTC counterparts, the University’s midshipmen in the Navy ROTC program must commute to Rutgers as a “crosstown” program three times a week for training, drill instruction and Naval Science classes. University students participating in Army ROTC mainly train on campus.
“It’sobviously challenging because we havetwouniversities, with two academic routines —one’s a state school and one’s an Ivy League school —and sothere’s definitely challenges there,” Roos said, “butwhat’s great is that we have a willingness on the part of both to make it work, and because of thatwillingness ithasn’t been too difficult for us to find a path that we’d think would work for Princeton midshipmen.”
Roos added that he and his staff would be working closely with Onianwa regarding the logistics of her commute to figure out how University midshipmen can be more seamlessly integrated into the program.
“The only way we’re going to get more Princeton students is if it’s easier for them to come over and take classes at Rutgers,” Roos said.
Lieutenant Anthony LaVopa, assistance professor of naval science of the NROTC program at Rutgers, said that, based on what the NROTC administrators have seen, they would anticipate somewhere between 12 to 15 midshipmen per class, and possibly more if the University gets more involved. Roos also said that the program is well-advertised and will definitely grow.
“We are really looking to build well-rounded individuals,” LaVopa said.
Onianwa explained that, although adjusting to NROTC life has not always been easy, she is still happy to be a part of the program.
“[The NROTC program] is a hard thing to be in sometimes, with the whole commuting thing and the whole learning a new culture because the navy is a culture in of itself,” she said.
Onianwa said that discipline and time management are very important in balancing her school activities with her duty to the NROTC.
She also noted the lack of interaction with Army ROTC students. However, Roos and Director of the Army Officer Education ProgramLieutenant Colonel KevinMcKiernan said that there are plans for future collaborative efforts, such as Veteran’s Day activities.
McKiernan said there are currently a total of 26 cadets from the University students enrolled in Army ROTC, along with 79 cadets from other affiliated schools. He noted that there has been no change in enrollment with the Army ROTC program since the reestablishment of the NROTC program, saying that he does not view it as a competition.
“I don’t view it as winning or losing,” McKiernan said. “If someone’s willing to commit to service to the nation, I’d like to help them plan the best way to do that”.
Onianwa said she would not consider switching programs, noting that her mother has been in the Navy for 22 years, and that the Navy is what she knows.
“[The ROTC programs] may be different based on the functionality of our services,” Onianwa said, “but when it comes to values, it’s pretty much the same.”
The University has offered an Army ROTC program since 1919 and was one of the first elite universities to reestablish the ROTC programs in the wake of 1972 post-Vietnam War protests. The NROTC program, however, did not return in 1972, and it was not until the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011 that ROTC programs began resurfacing on many Ivy League campuses.