Commentary: Militarization of campus unwelcome

I was shocked and dispirited to see photos in the Jan. 9 issue of The Northeastern Voice (Learning to Lead) depicting the Cabot gym as a mock battle scene. I understand the value of leadership training and other forms of preparation that are garnered by ROTC cadets, but the transformation of our campus athletic facilities into a military training ground seems to diminish the ideal values of sport, athletic competition and physical achievement typical of a gymnasium. These young men and women bearing arms in the Cabot gym are, among other things, being trained to kill other people and the abstraction of a combat exercise should not obscure that fact.

The militarization of everyday life on campus demands additional justification; precisely why must these exercises be carried out in the heart of our campus? I am quite certain most of the Northeastern community was unaware that such training methods (with cadets bedecked in full combat fatigues and armed with M-16 rifles) were being conducted in our midst. Might the ROTC, campus security or the university administration please clarify the university’s regulations concerning weapons on campus? Do such training exercises in any way compromise the existing policies and rules that apply to the wider campus community? Furthermore, if such exercises are to continue, then it should be standard procedure to alert the campus community about when they will be conducted and where; otherwise, how are we to distinguish between those people wearing fatigues and carrying rifles in our midst that are legitimate and those that may pose unwelcome threats with murder in mind? The Kent State massacre in 1970 and the more recent shootings at Dawson College in Montreal last September should each be a sobering reminder that guns on campus constitute a serious issue and often are a very bad idea.

-Murray Forman is a communications studies professor.

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