Earlier this month, the university received a letter from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). The council admonished the university for not having a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps facility on campus and for not allowing students participating in an MIT training program to receive credit here. While University President Lawrence Bacow correctly pointed out that the decision about the facility belongs to the military, not Tufts, his declaration that we fully support our ROTC students is somewhat debatable.
Despite its professed support, Tufts still refuses to give credit to those ROTC members who train at MIT. In addition to their regular course load, ROTC students are required to take an extra class every semester as part of their training on the MIT campus. The classes often focus on areas such as leadership, engineering and business, all very common themes for Tufts classes. Not only does this extra course take out chunks of time from already-busy schedules, but the commute coupled with the work is bound to take its toll. Although Tufts cites the absence of a cross-registration system with MIT as the cause of this problem, it still means that we are one of the only schools in the country that does not offer credit for ROTC classes (although the policies for credit-granting vary between schools). While Tufts does offer credit for the ROTC training at Boston University, the commute is longer and more inconvenient, meaning that many students resign themselves to the closer but creditless MIT option.
ROTC students should not be forced to inconvenience themselves to earn the credit for classes that would have counted had they taken them at Tufts. ROTC training could be equated with the internships and classes that prepare students of all majors throughout the university for their future careers, the only difference being that ROTC students are bound for the military. The university would never presume to tell a student who had just finished a year-long internship in a biology lab or a semester in a research seminar that all his work would be absent from his transcript. How then, is it fair that students who demonstrate the same, if not more, effort and dedication than their peers do not receive recognition for their efforts on their transcripts?
To discount the level of commitment ROTC students put into both their career training and their academics is an insult and confirms ACTA’s allegations of discouraging ROTC participation on campus. By making it difficult for ROTC students to transfer credits, Tufts could possibly be encouraging students who are otherwise interested in attending the university to look elsewhere or, conversely, discouraging students set on Tufts from considering the military as a possible career path. The university’s policy should not prevent the dedication, commitment and extra work required to participate in the program from appearing on a student’s transcript.