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U. yet to decide if ROTC students can live on campus ‘whole year’ as previously promised

<p>ROTC cadets at morning training.</p>
<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>

ROTC cadets at morning training.

Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

Students participating in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) were previously told that they “will be able to live on campus the whole year.” Now, that decision may be reversed. 

“A decision has not yet been made” on the matter, wrote Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.  

In early July, the University announced that it would welcome to campus for the fall semester first-year students and juniors, as well as “students who face housing insecurity, new transfer students and ROTC students.” On Friday, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 announced a complete reversal in planning — with first-years and juniors no longer permitted on campus and undergraduate courses being conducted entirely remotely. 

Friday’s announcement also clarified a number of exceptions. Sophomores and seniors already approved for Emergency Residency will be able to live on campus, and first-years and juniors “unable to learn at home due to high financial need and/or significant extenuating circumstances that make it impossible to secure alternative housing” are able to apply for on-campus housing until Aug. 12. 

Eisgruber also wrote that “a very limited number of students with previously approved exceptions recognizing their need to be on campus for specific aspects of their senior thesis research or other work essential to their degree programs” can return. 

Unlike the early July announcement, Eisgruber’s letter made no specific mention of ROTC.

In a statement to the ‘Prince,’ Hotchkiss wrote that the “University is consulting with the Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC programs about their proposed plans for next semester, so that we can evaluate whether in-person ROTC activities can be supported on campus and take place under New Jersey and University regulations.”

Tiger Battalion Commander Carter Gipson ’21 added that the ROTC Army program “is still figuring out what types of training will be allowed under the University’s policies this fall.”

“We’re planning both on-campus training and virtual training contingencies in order to make sure our cadets will be properly trained to lead Soldiers after commissioning, and we’re confident our cadets have the discipline to continually do the individual training necessary for their physical and intellectual self-development,” Gipson added.

Gipson is the ‘Prince’ business team’s former Chief of Staff.

Another ROTC Cadet who spoke to the ‘Prince’ under the condition of anonymity said that even before the Friday announcement, “what ROTC would look like on campus was super vague.”

“It was told to us in a town hall that the only thing Princeton approved was the housing itself and not access to gyms, going off campus for laborers, or even doing [Physical Training],” the anonymous student noted. “Even if we were given emergency housing we might not be doing anything anyway given how stringent the in-person guidelines are.” 

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In an email obtained by the ‘Prince,’ a member of ROTC Cadet leadership told fellow students that Friday’s decision had been reached “without ROTC in the loop.”

Hotchkiss wrote that the University is “working to reach a decision as soon as possible.”

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