March 16, 2012 by Sean Craig
Drexel University’s Army ROTC hosted “Bring a Buddy to Lab Day” in the Armory March 8, which included a cadet-performed ranger demonstration involving a simulated scenario of storming a bunker using fake weapons.
The day, which was meant to make the organization more visible to the University community, also offered a number of other activities, including rock climbing on a wall brought by the National Guard, basketball and volleyball, and information tables with an abundance of pamphlets and cadets to answer any questions.
According to Cadet Steve Hetman, a pre-junior majoring in environmental sciences, all Drexel ROTC training takes place at Fort Dix, located in New Jersey. As a result, much of the Drexel community is unaware of what ROTC actually does, and Bring a Buddy to Lab Day was meant to remedy that.
“We’re trying to get more people involved,” Hetman said. “We’re a huge family organization. We all know each other, but a lot of people don’t know what we do.”
On a typical Thursday, Drexel ROTC has its lab day, during which cadets practice skills they learned in the classroom. Drexel ROTC’s alternative to the Army’s “down day,” Bring a Buddy to Lab Day revealed to the greater University community what a normal lab day might look like.
“In the classroom on Tuesday, maybe [the cadets] will learn about platoon operations, and then on Thursday they’ll do an exercise during lab to see it in action,” Lt. Col. Maura Gillen, a professor of military science for Drexel ROTC, said.
After completing ROTC in college, cadets are required to serve four years of duty, either reserve service or active-duty service in either the Army or the National Guard. They must then complete four additional years of reserve service. Cadets are placed after college based on grade point average, physical ability and performance during ROTC.
In addition to Drexel students, students from St. Joseph’s University, the University of Pennsylvania, La Salle University and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia all come to Drexel to participate in Army ROTC. Drexel is the main Army ROTC school for the University City area, although Temple University has its own program. Additionally, Penn has a Navy ROTC program and St. Joe’s has an Air Force ROTC program that Drexel students participate in.
According to Cadet Catheryn Blankenbiller, a junior environmental sciences major at Drexel, cadets are in as far-reaching activities as crew and Penn’s football team. Blankenbiller herself is a member of the Drexel Dance Team, and she says that both the coaches of the team and the officers of ROTC understand the different time commitments.
“[ROTC officers] want you to [be able] to have a college life and participate in ROTC,” Blankenbiller said.
Many cadets and officers at the event recommended ROTC for anyone who wanted to learn better self-discipline or to be more focused and effective in various parts of life, such as work or studies.
“Drexel Army ROTC is the place to be,” Capt. Derek Henson, an assistant professor of military science, said.