The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is one of the nation’s biggest college recruitment programs, which gives students the experience of being in the military without the risk of being sent to war while in college.
“I decided to join in high school after I was already accepted to Kutztown,” Stephen Matyus said in an interview in the KU professional building, “I wanted the challenge of it.”
Matyus is a senior Criminal Justice major who was fortunate enough to be selected for a full scholarship through the ROTC program. The number of recruits at KU are relatively small, with only 25 cadets, but they are combined with Lehigh University, Moravian University and Albright University.
“Not everyone gets a scholarship,” Matyus said. Part of a scholarship means that you are contracted into the army and required to complete the four years of ROTC and four years after graduation.
Most people join in their freshmen year, which exempts them from early morning physical training (P.T.). Sophomores fall into the same status and are not under any contract in the military.
At the end of their sophomore year, recruits decide if they would like to continue as a junior, where they are considered an MS3. At that point, they are contracted to the military, and they continue taking military science classes.
The topics of the military science classes vary from year to year. In an email written to The Keystone, Matyus explained that the classes and their subjects change depending on what year each cadet is in the program.
“As a freshman, you cover things like leadership and group dynamics,” Matyus wrote. Sophomore and junior year are more advanced leadership skills, and during the cadets’ senior year, they learn about war, morality, ethics and military professionalism.
Cadets are required to wear the Army’s camouflage to class so that they are used to wearing it a lot. During morning P.T. sessions, cadets wear army issued physical fitness gear, which consists of black, army issued shorts and a gray army issued t-shirt.
The Keystone was able to sit in on a morning P.T. session in November in which cadets were being tested. Senior Criminal Justice major Mike Archutowski, however, did not have high expectations for the tests.
“Most of the MS1s and MS2s do not come to morning P.T. because they are not required to if they are not under contract,” Archutowski said. He also said the juniors have not been leading the morning P.T. sessions like they have in the past.
Except for testing, the juniors in the Army’s ROTC take the lead and instruct in morning P.T. They come up with the exercises and the order of the exercises. The seniors of the group take part in morning P.T. but also evaluate the juniors on their leadership performance.
In between the junior and senior year, Cadets take a five-week summer Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) in Fort Lewis, Wash.
“It’s the Army’s way of assessing cadets and placing them into units after they’ve graduated from the ROTC program,” Matyus said.
After completing LDAC, cadets are given a choice of 16 different units within the Army and rank them in order which they would like to be placed. Once the Army decides if the cadets will be a part of the National Guard or a full-time soldier in the army, they are assigned a unit.
“They take your rank and your LDAC results into consideration when assigning you to a unit,” Matyus said.
Matyus will be a part of the Army’s transportation unit for the next eight years.
Apart from LDAC, recruits are given the option to go to speciality camps, which include Airborne school in Fort Benning, Ga and Air Assault School in Ft. Campbell, Ky.
Archutowski was assigned to go to the Air Assault school in Fort Benning and described it as a once in a life-time experience.
The ROTC encourages potential cadets to ask questions and those who are interested in the program can find more information at http://www.kutztown.edu/admin/urelations/rotc/.
By Dan Clark