The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV’s Army Reserve Officer Leadership Corps aims to expand

Courtesy / GVSU Army Reserve Officer Leadership Corps

Grand Valley State University’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, also known as ROTC, is on a mission to boost visibility and participation on campus. This is a high priority goal for the university because the ROTC chapter at GVSU is aiming to upgrade their chapter’s status. 

Army ROTC is an elective curriculum taken along with a student’s required college classes that offers unique training and scholarships opportunities, granting commissionable officer status in the U.S. Army to upon that student’s graduation from GVSU. Because the program is an elective, any student can participate without any binding military obligations until their junior year in the program. 

All ROTC programs fall into one of three categories: crosstown partnership, manned extension campus and host chapter. These demonstrate the three levels of operation for an ROTC chapter, each determined by enrollment and participation at the university. GVSU’s program currently works in collaboration with Western Michigan University (the host chapter for the area) in a crosstown partnership. Previously, if GVSU students participated in ROTC they attended lectures at WMU’s Grand Rapids campus, according to GVNext

Typically, the host chapter connects with other schools in the area and allows those students to attend ROTC classes at the host university. GVSU’s program works differently and has incorporated ROTC classes into their own course catalog, so students are able to take these classes on GVSU’s campus.

A manned extension campus falls in between crosstown partnership status and host chapters. This status requires the school to produce enough army officers each year to call for additional resources, meaning that military members would be assigned to GVSU in order to sustain the ROTC program. These officers would help in recruitment as well as allocating the necessary supplies and resources. 

“As Grand Valley continues to grow, our intention is to get it (ROTC) to a point where it can elevate or get itself promoted from a crosstown to an extension campus,” said Billy Clayton, WMU’s Scholarship and Enrollment Officer.

This past fall semester produced the largest freshman class for GVSU ROTC. Clayton expressed his anticipation to see how this trend continues into the 2024 fall semester. 

Making ROTC classes more accessible to students was a huge step in elevating the program at GVSU. ROTC classes are broken down between time in the classroom teaching topics such as ethics and values, leadership styles and orders preparation and what is called, “Leadership Labs.” The labs allow students to work on specific soldier-related skills like rifle marksmanship.

Other efforts to increase participation include hosting university events and last year’s creation of the official GVSU ROTC website.

Courtesy / GVSU Army Reserve Officer Leadership Corps

In terms of incentives, Clayton said the ROTC program aims to offer a unique opportunity for students to the program without an official military commitment until their junior year. Notably, the ROTC scholarship covers 100% of a student’s tuition and includes an additional living stipend, as well as funding for textbooks. This can also be converted to a cash scholarship for students facing financial difficulties. 

The program provides resources to students to ensure their success in completing their bachelor’s degree. Clayton emphasized that ROTC students exhibit high retention rates and GPAs throughout their four years in school. 

With the focus now on becoming an extension campus, there are some challenges that come with growing the program. Some students have expressed their frustration in seeing “partial” uniforms on campus such as a student in uniform without their hair done the proper way or wearing jewelry.

“It’s just something that I don’t think the risk is worth the reward sometimes when it comes to having somebody walking around in not a full uniform. It could give a different persona of what (ROTC) is,” said Aaron Root, Assistant Professor of Military Science at WMU. 

The university addressed this concern, asking students to wear their uniform to ROTC class and not elsewhere. 

During fall semester, one ROTC class was held outside of GVSU’s Kindschi Hall of Science. Students were supervised while doing basic practices, like marching in uniform. Root explained that with instructors present and in a controlled environment, this was beneficial program exposure for the school. It brought engagement from students outside of the program and brought positive awareness to ROTC. 

As GVSU continues towards becoming an extension campus, its commitment to informing and attracting students to the ROTC program is evident. For information regarding enrollment or other inquiries, visit GVSU’s ROTC website. 

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