Column, November 1, 1935, Page 2
Schools and War
spirit and temper which exalts the military virtues and ideals and
minimizes the defects of military training and the cost of war and
preparation for it: often used derogatorily of the spirit which tends
to confer undue privilege or prominence on the military class.
Opposition to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in the secondary schools and college has come from many quarters. From the educator who cannot reconcile regimentation with education, from the physical culturist who deplores "close order drill," from the student and worker who are determined to fight war preparation have come concentrated protests against the fostering of militarism, as defined above by Webster's dictionary, in the schools.
The R.O.T.C. Begins
The R.O.T.C. began with the passage of the Moril Land Grant Act in I862. This Civil War statute provides that any state might receive a Federal grant of land for the specific purpose of establishing a college "where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, including military tactics, is teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the states may respectively prescribe"
In 1916 Congress passed the National Defense Act, a war time measure which standardized military training conditions by creating the R.O.T.C. In 1920 the Act was amended to make the R.O.T.C. a two year "elective or compulsory" course in military science.
In the test case of two students suspended from the University of California for being conscientious and religious objectors to the compulsory R.O.T.C. there, the Supreme Court recently ruled that "The conscientious objector has no right under the Federal Constitution to be exempted from military service." The Court also pointed out the only two legal ways to prevent compulsory military training in colleges. The first is through state laws which will make military training elective; the second method is through Congress, which has the authority to abolish the R.O. T.C. altogether, or extend Federal aid only to colleges where the course is elective.
Deeming the latter method the more expedient and feasible, Senator Gerald P. Nye and Congressman Patti K. Kvale introduced concurrently in both houses of Congress on July 24, 1935 a proposal to amend the National Defense Act. The Nye-Kvale Bill would insert a proviso in the Act that no R.O.T.C. unit shall he maintained at any school or college "until such institution shall have satisfied the Secretary of War that enrollment in such unit (except in the case of essentially military schools) is elective and not compulsory."
Senator Nye clarifies the Bill by declaring: "At the present time two hundred twenty-eight schools and colleges maintain military training units under section 40 of the Defense Act. This amendment if and when approved, will apply to the one hundred eighteen civil schools and colleges which now enroll cadets in the R.O.T.C. upon a compulsory basis.
"It will protect the interest of individuals who do not happen to be interested in training for officership in the Reserve Corps, without adding hardship to those students who are interested in such training.
The Committee on Militarism in Education, which for the past ten years has been a pioneer in the struggle against compulsory military training for youth, is at present conducting a contest for editorials by students on "Why Congress should pass the Nyc-Kvale Bill." Full information may he obtained in this issue of Spotlight.
To those of us who oppose militarism and war propaganda in the class room, the laboratory, and on the campus, the Nye-Kvale bill can be only a half-way measure. Yet it is vitally necessary for us in our fight against all military training, to arouse public opinion and contact our Senators and Congressmen, to insure the passage of this measure which is a concrete step toward attaining our ultimate goal.