NROTC students reach out to campus civilians

Lauren Mogannam

Many students in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps are known on campus only as the students decked out in full military uniform on certain days of the week.

“It is a way for all of us to be professional together and get used to wearing the uniform,” said Chris Vittorio, the Midshipmen Battalion Philanthropy Coordinator.

Vittorio said he hoped to include the rest of campus in on the professionalism with a philanthropic squad challenge competition that took place Saturday afternoon at Long Field to allow “civilian” students to participate in 13 military activities to give them a taste of what it would be like to train for the Navy. Each team of four had to pay $24, benefitting the United Service Organization.

“All our friends hear us talk about the Navy, but they don’t get to see what we do,” Vittorio said.

After students completed the different activities, including a casualty carry and team push-ups, the four teams with the best times competed in the final “Sub Hunt” event, which simulated submarine warfare with wheelbarrows and water balloons, for gift certificates to local Evanston restaurants. The event benefited wounded veterans, Platoon Commander Donald Redding said.

“People don’t really know what it is that we do,” the McCormick senior said. “It is a fun way for them to participate in events that we do to learn leadership skills, communication and teamwork.”

Veronica Berns said she participated to support her friends who are in the program.

“I hear about what my friends do every morning and to experience what they do on a daily basis is amazing,” the Weinberg senior said.

The Northwestern program is affiliated with Loyola University Chicago in order to make the program more widely available, said Craig Miller, the Battalion Commander. There are about 20 students from each school participating in the program.

Although everyone was out on Saturday to enjoy themselves, the NROTC program is very challenging, Vittorio said.

“It is a big time commitment,” the Weinberg senior said. “I have had to take five classes a quarter.”

Vittorio, a double major in chemistry and political science, is required to take certain courses required by the Navy, he said. A year of calculus-based physics and calculus, world cultures and foreign relations are some of the academic classes NROTC students take, Vittorio said. In addition, they take classes including Leadership and Management, Naval Operations and a course series on naval engineering and weapons systems.

NROTC members also need to spend a month of their summer vacations training and getting real-life experience. Vittorio said his summer training involved shadowing a Navy member on active duty on a submarine.

After graduation, all who go through the program have to serve in the Navy for a minimum of four years, Redding said. Redding, who wants to go on submarine duty, said he will have a five-year commitment.

Several members agreed that the perks of the program are worth it: According to the NU NROTC Web site, students receive full tuition, $600 for books, uniforms, summer training and a monthly living stipend ranging from $250 to $400, depending on their class year.

“I get a chance to travel and get an education at the same time,” said Chelsie Williams, a sophomore at Loyola. “It’s a great opportunity.”

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