ROTC project plan

Over the course of the conflict in Vietnam the attitudes and institutional policies towards Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) changed dramatically as anti-war sentiments proliferated on college campuses. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s ROTC programs had been viewed as training grounds for future leaders in business and government and strong programs were established at the best colleges and universities in the country. However, as the Vietnam War escalated and anti-war sentiment grew, many students and faculty came to see ROTC programs as in direct conflict with the core mission and values of the university setting, which was widely seen as a place that values equality, freedom of thought, and use of reason. In contrast, they saw ROTC programs as promoting violence, strict hierarchy, and unquestioning obedience. At New York University the conflict between anti-war students and faculty, and the presence of Army and Air Force ROTC programs on campus created a volatile environment. While students targeted the ROTC programs through protests, sit-ins, and acts of vandalism, the College of Arts and Science Faculty made administrative attempts to rid the campus of the program.

The anti-war protests of the late 1960s have been widely studied; however, much of the scholarship and information available on the web focuses on the protests and anti-war crusaders. This project seeks to add to existing scholarship available online by digitizing a collection of administrative correspondence and records, university reports, student publications, and press releases from 1968-71 pertaining to the ROTC program and the anti-war sentiment erupting throughout this period. By bringing together documents from separate collections, this project will provide viewers insight from a variety of perspectives and voices.

In order to incorporate all perspectives, a collection of about 150 total documents will be scanned. All the documents are from collections housed in the New York University Archives, and any copyright issues regarding documents will be carefully considered. Those documents included will deal solely with issues pertaining to the ROTC program, protests or action taken directly against it, and information regarding its status within the university. General anti-war agitation and any documents relating to that will not be included.

Through these documents, a greater understanding of the effects of widespread anti-war sentiment on college campuses can be seen.

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