There are 300 million people in the United States, and 1.5 million of them are active duty members of the United States Armed Forces. These are members of the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force.
They are the defenders of our country, our values, our way of life and our democracy. They preserve freedom for not only our country, but also freedom for many other countries around the world.
Here at Mercer, we are privileged with the opportunity to share our academic pursuits with men and women who will go on to serve in these branches of the Armed Forces; the men and women of ROTC. They work harder and longer in a day than some students do in a week.
They are models for what every student and citizen of our country should be: patriots. Because of their rigorous schedules and trying obligations, I believe that the students of ROTC should be allowed to register early.
These students wake up at five in the morning nearly every day. After waking up they are required to do rigorous physical activity for an hour. Then they go to their regular classes, meaning the classes required for their majors or the general education track.
These classes have to be fitted around their required ROTC classes. Every ROTC student is required to take at least one Military Science class a semester, plus a required lab that lasts two and half hours. The class plus the lab comes to a grand total of three credit hours per semester, even though ROTC students are usually in these classes for close to six hours a week.
In addition to taking these ROTC classes, these students also have to make sure that they are on track to graduate or face the risk of losing their scholarships. A two-year, three-year and four-year scholarship is offered to these ROTC students. Most of the ROTC students are on a four-year scholarship, which means the American government pays for their tuition and Mercer pays for their room and board. In order to keep the scholarship the student must have a 2.0 GPA, take at least 12 hours every semester and must serve in the Armed Forces.
The requirements set upon these students are burdensome, time consuming and time constraining. These students are the future and current defenders of our country; it is time that we as a university recognized the honor of the daily and lifelong struggles they will face in service of our country. There are approximately 5,300 students in ROTC nationwide who have different and sometimes less rigorous requirements than our program has.
We have approximately 45 of those students. Shouldn’t we be asking as a university what we can do to help them in their academic pursuits? The very least we can do in aiding their progress is to give them the privilege to register early. If we hold athletes and honor students to a higher standard and aid them in their academic pursuits, why not the students who will and who have served our country?
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