Bush Assails Colleges That Shun ROTC Units

May 17, 2007

President Bush took the opportunity during an ROTC-commissioning ceremony at the White House this afternoon to criticize colleges and universities that “do not allow ROTC on campus,” according to an official transcript.

In an applause line, Mr. Bush said, “To the cadets and midshipmen who are graduating from a college or university that believes ROTC is not worthy of a place on campus, here is my message: Your university may not honor your military service, but the United States of America does.” He did not single out any college by name, although there are quite a few of them.

Mr. Bush also didn’t mention the Pentagon’s role in pulling ROTC out of many campuses. As The Wall Street Journal reported in February, the Defense Department has shut down dozens of ROTC units where it saw poor prospects of finding good recruits. Some campuses were seen as havens of antimilitary sentiment; others simply didn’t fit into the Pentagon’s post-cold-war calculus. (See Chronicle articles from 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, and 2004.)

But many of them, the Journal reported, were in big, ethnically diverse Northern cities that had sizable populations of Arabic or Pashto speakers — key languages nowadays. —Andrew Mytelka