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Princeton Prof Wants More Veterans on Campus

Diversity has long been the watchword in college admissions, and among elite schools in particular.  Yet as Princeton professor Uwe Reinhardt writes, diversity advocates tend to focus on race and ethnicity to the exclusion of differences in class and culture. Reinhardt, whose son graduated from Princeton and joined the Marine Corps in 2001, notes with dismay that the school currently has just four veterans out of a campus of 5,249 undergraduates and 2,610 graduate students. Veterans, whatever their skin color, bring a dramatically different perspective to campus:

Imagine what can be contributed by someone with notions of honor, solidarity and selfless service rarely encountered in the civilian world.

Imagine what insight might be had from someone who has had to work with people of a foreign culture, often under trying conditions.

And imagine what distinct moral perspectives could be offered in a seminar on ethics, on the University’s discipline committee or in a dean’s office by someone who may have had to make profoundly troublesome ethical choices under fire, in split seconds.

If Reinhardt is right, colleges that do more outreach to this group of potential students could bring a more substantive kind of diversity to their campus communities.

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  • LarryD

    Cynically, I predict that Princeton is not actually interested in diversity of viewpoints.

  • Alex Weiner

    That’s a pretty shocking number. I’ve had classes at NYU Stern with more veterans than that. One reason is that Princeton doesn’t really have any professional programs that would naturally accept veterans that way Harvard, Columbia and NYU do (no law or business schools). I’m still surprised Woodrow Wilson doesn’t have more though.

  • Kris

    Just not the right sort.


  • WigWag

    This is an excellent idea!

  • Eurydice

    I think this is a splendid idea. However, I would ask Prof. Reinhardt to take a close look at his university’s attitudes towards the military and determine if they coincide with his. It might be the fashion now to say “Thank you for your service” but the academics I know (at least, here in Boston) still characterize those who join the military as either narrow-mided, rigid thinkers who love following rules, or barely restrained sociopaths looking for a legal way to kill people – not the kind of folks you want around the impressionable young. Bringing up honor, solidarity and selfless service just gets you a blank look.

  • BillH

    Maybe, just maybe, the Veterans want nothing to do with Princeton. Looks to me like professor Uwe Reinhardt is more interested in what Veterans can do for Princeton than in what Princeton can do for Veterans. That sort of attitude may be driving them away. (Vet)

  • david

    Potential faculty, as well. I was at an R1 until a couple of years ago, and I think there was exactly one veteran on the faculty. At my current uni, I am not sure anyone has been in the service.

  • J

    As recently as 2007-08, Princeton did not permit enlisted service recruiters on campus. I knew several ROTC students, but they trained exclusively off campus.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I guess that if you are the child of an Ivy League Prof who is a leading light in liberal circles, the most rebellious thing you can do is to join the Marines. I know another Princeton Prof, whose name frequently graces the NY Review, whose son joined the Corps.

  • bob sykes

    Recruiting exmilitary would be an implicit approval of their masculine characteristics, which is anathema to the modern university.

  • buzz

    “Looks to me like professor Uwe Reinhardt is more interested in what Veterans can do for Princeton than in what Princeton can do for Veterans. ”

    Yeah, that’s probably it. He probably looks at his son, and thinks he must have a lot of friends who can do something for Princeton. What with that Marine Corp background and everything.

  • Synova

    The point of valuing “diversity” is that, supposedly, people will have their beliefs challenged. If Princeton faculty view military service as something poor dumb people do, that leads to narrow minded rule following… well, they’re profoundly ignorant and could probably use some diversity in their lives.

    Granted, if that’s the case why would any veteran ever want to attend? There are lots of other good schools out there.

    But that’s not on the “diverse” students, it’s on the school itself, to attract the diversity they claim to value. It’s on the *school* to make the classes and campus welcome to minority students.

  • Bohemond

    Tragically, the comments under Prof Reinhardt’s column represent a sickening cross-section of left-wing bigotry.

  • Richard Aubrey

    It’s like suggesting congresscritters enlist. Can’t have that. The grunts have their social expectations.
    I expect Princeton would be viewed the same way.

  • Stan

    Here’s how to get diversity:
    Institute a military draft.
    Run the draft like this:
    Each year get the number needs of the services.
    Go down the USNews list of top 100 nat’l universities and top 100 colleges,alternating between univ and college(i.e. go from #1 univ. to #1 college, then to #2 univ., etc.), drafting everyone after freshman year, until get the people needed for that year. Draft them all, man, woman, and child, the deaf, dumb, blind, the halt, the lame, the disturbed, the Democrat. If they are smart enough to be in one of these institutions, the services can use them.
    Pay them $85/mth in 1968 dollars. Have them serve 2 yrs or so, then go back to college!
    Don’t let the colleges take folks on transfer to the college after freshman year, either.No deferments, no exceptions.
    The students at these top institutions are blessed and privileged. From whom much is given, much should be required.
    I am sure that returning veterans would not be nearly as impressed with professorial opinion as non-veteran sophomores. So a good side effect, too.

  • Scott Feil

    Princeton did have some illustrious veterans attend. Several contemporaries from West Point attended to get graduate degrees (the most famous I suppose is Dave Petraeus). They attended under a fully funded program and I suspect most went to the Wilson School. My observation from doing the same military funded grad school program at Stanford is that many schools are perfectly willing to take government funds to educate military officers (as willing as they are to take research money) but a good number don’t necessarily want a visible military presence on campus (uniforms and such). Many are especially loathe to give any kind of academic credit for ROTC classes because they are taught by military officers who don’t have a PhD. I always think this is false nobility of purpose. If the schools have the courage of their convictions I would think they would want ROTC and veterans on campus so that they could get their ideas and values into the military bloodstream, rather than waiting for the military to come to them. The military is much more diverse in thought and other dimensions than the civilian world (and on the whole, better educated as well).
    One final observation — civilian organizations can be more hide-bound and status conscious than the military. In the service, rank is worn openly which gets that out of the way — everybody knows and is comfortable with rank display and the general isn’t losing face by speaking to a sergeant who may be the expert with the solution. In my dealings with civilians, because rank and power is hidden behind a suit, they are a lot more interested in finding out the power relationships and I’ve had civilians refuse to attend meetings because the military expert wasn’t of equivalent rank.

  • David Mccune

    Regarding Reinhardt’s proposal, one quick way would be to change Princeton’s “Yellow Ribbon” contribution to the GI Bill. this is additional money kicked in by the school and matched by the VA to cover the difference between what the GI Bill covers and what Princeton costs. University of Chicago does this, so that a veteran or dependent of a veteran (the New GI Bill is transferable) has school paid for.

    As far as ROTC, Princeton has a very active Army ROTC training battalion. Air Force ROTC is a joint program with Rutgers, but most of their training take place (I believe, it’s been awhile since I checked) on the Princeton campus.

  • Ron Coleman

    Alex Weiner (#2) pretty much got it right, even though everyone else is using this thread as a blank slate to posture. Princeton is not NYU in many ways. It not only lacks graduate professional programs, it by and large lacks undergraduate professional programs. (You can’t even learn drafting in the School of Architecture.)

    Princeton is also not a campus environment that attracts older students, or is meant to, unlike NYU. For example, students must live on campus and take their meals via university dining options for their first two years. And don’t get me started on social life.

    In short, Princeton by and large follows the (elitist) model of extended adolescence for college. It’s a fantastic experience for most adolescents (as it was for me many years ago), but it’s hard to imagine a lot of veterans who would sign up for that in the 21st century.

  • Diggs

    The diversity that veterans would bring to Princeton is EXACTLY the diversity that Princeton professors are afraid of. Imagine lecturing away at say…the equality of women in islamic societies and having a veteran say that he helped a young girl get medical attention after she had acid thrown in her face by muslim clerics. Or that they helped rebuild and guard a girl’s school in a muslim country because it had been burned down three previous times, once with the girls trapped inside by a muslim cleric where they burned alive. No Princeton professor wants to be challenged on the facts, and they would be challenged daily by people who were there.

  • Mexipat

    Academic “diversity” is a cover for black affirmative action and “victim” preferences of all kinds. Expecting faculty and administration to actually *value* differences as opposed to condescending to them is worth a guffaw or two, and little else.

  • JimGl

    Actually I’d like to see more veterans as Prof’s!

  • Tantor

    Wouldn’t recruiting military vets undermine the very indoctrination that Princeton is all about?

  • Richard Aubrey

    Scott Feil.
    And the sergeant gets more respect from the general than the janitor gets from the dean.

  • Joe Blow

    I feel nothing but scorn for a broad swath of academics in our elite institutions. They work hard to produce entitled, leftist brats who mirror their instructors’ warped viewpoints of our country and military service, and who duplicate their scorn for those who served. As a vet, the feeling is mutual. Sure, it’s the same attitude, the difference is I earned the right to have that opinion. They came to their opinions by accident of birth, and have been too lazy to get out of their little coccoon to reconsider.

    While it would be good to debunk their stupid beliefs with an expeditionary force of motivated veterans, we vets gave at the office already. It isn’t our life’s mission to try to save morons from themselves and it isn’t just to put that expectation on us. We (and the long thin line behind which we marched) fought for their right to be venal morons; let them enjoy their infantile little leftist temper tantrums against the military, those temper tantrums have been paid for – and let us vets not be troubled but enjoy a good laugh at their expense. To the extent the academic left can be saved it will have to be a redemption of their own making, like the understanding that a wall is hard which comes after one has run into it enough times.

    Vets should populate the elite schools elsewhere in the country, look to the elite Southern institutions that still have honor codes and a respect for those who served. Look to higher tier state institutions elsewhere that have strong academic programs, and which appreciate excellence. Cast not your pearls before swine.

  • Lee

    Increasing the ranks of decent human beings on campus would undermine their efforts to indoctrinate their students in leftist ideology.

  • CSG

    I received my Master of Public Policy from Princeton Univ’s Woodrow Wilson School in 2003. I was on terminal leave from active duty when I reported to the campus in August 2002. I have since been activated out of the Navy Reserve for a year in Iraq and am currently serving the active component in the Washington DC area.

    Almost every member of the Woodrow Wilson School faculty were very fair and insightful. My fellow students appreciated my experience and valued the perspective I brought to our seminars. I never felt I was being led to specific policy recommendations.

    It is as easy for us to stereotype “leftist academics” as it is for them to stereotype us veterans.

    I did not take any classes from Prof. Reinhardt, but he was/is highly regarded among the students and his colleagues.

    I will say, however, that one of the most boneheaded lectures I’ve ever heard was Paul Krugman’s comparison of the 9/11 attacks with the Kobe earthquake that struck Japan in 1995. … it was particularly odd as he gave it in August 2002, less than a year after the attack was executed.

    CDR, USN

  • Chester White

    I am Princeton ’80. This is the first thing Reinhardt has ever written or said that I agree with.

  • TDRL

    Diversity: everyone looks different, but thinks the same.

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