Photo by: Will Gentry
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, is a staple at many universities across the country, so some students may ask themselves why Oklahoma Christian University doesn’t seem to have one.
ROTC provides an opportunity for students to receive financial backing from the United States military in return for eight years of service.
“ROTC is the way the army obtains most of its officers,” senior mechanical engineer major Johnathon Gause said. “I think it’s something like 80 percent come from ROTC programs throughout the country. That’s the whole purpose of ROTC, to develop officers for the Army. The other branches of military also have their own programs.”
The University of Central Oklahoma is the closest school that offers ROTC, and six students who attend Oklahoma Christian University go there to complete their training.
“I’ve talked with a few people, and OC doesn’t have an ROTC program because it’s too small,” senior political science major Forrest Jennings said. “OC is expensive compared to UCO, so when the army looks into where to put their programs, they look for the least expensive spot. But if OC did have a program, they would need a lot more people, because right now, there aren’t enough students at OC who are enrolled in ROTC.”
Smaller schools like Oklahoma Christian act as partner schools with larger schools like the University of Central Oklahoma, which acts as a host. The partner schools send students to ROTC training, effectively making them students at two schools. Oklahoma Christian isn’t the only school in the area that does this; Southern Nazarene University in Bethany has two students enrolled in the University of Central Oklahoma ROTC.
“The program starts you as a freshman, where you start as a cadet private” Gause said. “You work up through the ranks throughout your college career until you’re a senior, when you act as battalion staff. The highest rank we have is cadet colonel.”
Gause has participated in ROTC since he began his college career. His family has been involved with the military, so it was something he knew he was interested in.
“My uncle was a Ranger back in the 80’s,” Gause said. “I grew up hearing stories about what he did, and I always thought it’d be cool. I was never sure I wanted to do that, but as I got older, I decided it was something I wanted to try because I knew I had the leadership experience to do it, and ROTC was a good choice.”
Jennings, on the other hand, didn’t have any family in the military other than a grandfather who fought in World War II. He signed up for ROTC after discovering his knack for leadership.
“I was captain of the swim team in high school, and I was able to change it into something people could be proud to be a part of, “Jennings said. “I kind of saw that as being able to lead, and it pressured me to be a part of the Army. My family was a little hesitant to me being in the military, but it grew on them once they saw that I was going to do it regardless of what they wanted.”
Students who don’t sign up for ROTC during their freshman year can still sign up later, but they have to make up everything they missed.
Students who enroll in ROTC are given an eight-year contract to the army once they graduate. They can decide how they want to try to fulfill it, picking from a few different options like spending four years active and four years on reserve.
Gause is the Battalion Commander of the University of Central Oklahoma ROTC, meaning that he’s the head of all the cadets. If someone messes up, it goes back to him. It can be hard to balance class work and ROTC training.
“ROTC counts as three credits your freshman and sophomore year, and your junior and senior year it counts as four,” Gause said. “A lot of the time is spent in preparation, and while we technically only spend about eight hours in scheduled time, we also have an extra 17 hours of outside work. And that can definitely impede schoolwork. It’s difficult to balance.”