- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A nonprofit conservative youth outreach group that owns Ronald Reagan’s former California ranch is fighting what it sees as liberal efforts to abolish R0TC programs on college campuses nationwide, including one in its own backyard.

“ROTC programs on college campuses are under attack by professors and leftists, so Young America’s Foundation is stepping forward to honor these young men and women, who sacrifice so much to protect the freedoms we enjoy,” the group stated.

YAF especially is concerned about the future of a Reserve Officer Training Corps program in its own neighborhood at the University of California at Santa Barbara, which it sees as being threatened.

Because of its concerns, YAF honored 45 cadets from that program and their instructors at a barbecue at the Reagan Ranch April 9.

“R0TC programs have been an issue since the Vietnam War, and some colleges and universities have not had them for 30 years,” said Andrew Coffin, spokesman for the Reagan Ranch.

At that time, students opposed to the Vietnam War argued the presence of ROTC suggested institutional support for the conflict.

“Now because of the Iraq war, ROTC has become an issue again, and efforts are under way on some campuses by anti-military professors and students” to eliminate these programs, Mr. Coffin added.

YAF also is worried about the situation at UCSB where an effort has begun to end a military presence on campus.

“It is not fair to say the university is considering closing down the [military science] program, but it has been asked to consider closing it down” by a few critics, said UCSB spokesman Paul Desruisseaux.

He added that the university’s chancellor, Henry T. Yang, has “not weighed in” with an official position.

Recent articles in the Princetonian, Princeton’s student newspaper, indicate that a small group of students there have started a referendum drive to end its ROTC program because of discrimination concerns.

But a group striving to retain ROTC also has formed.

Among those in attendance at YAF’s April 9 barbecue was Lauren Daugherty, a student at Emory University, which does not offer ROTC. Miss Daugherty said she had to commute four times weekly to an ROTC program at Georgia Tech.

When she wore her camouflage uniform on Emory’s campus, Miss Daugherty told The Washington Times that she was “called a ‘baby killer’ and spat at.”

Mr. Coffin said Miss Daugherty “received no credit whatsoever” for her ROTC participation, but added that she “ultimately triumphed” because today she is a Marine Corps officer candidate.

In the hope of invigorating ROTC, Congress passed legislation, signed by President Bush, that prohibits schools from receiving federal funds if they fail to permit ROTC units or military recruiters on their campuses.

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