Pershing 4.5.20

Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is continuing its program online despite the loss of numerous events and opportunities.

Capt. Matthew Chase, assistant professor of military science, said Army ROTC’s focus in switching everything online was to ensure the safety of its students while still maintaining as much of the training value in its events as possible. 

Jack O’Dell, a sophomore physics major and Army ROTC cadet, said he was initially sad to hear about the program moving online, but said online classes have been going well so far.

Chase said Army ROTC is holding collaborative labs that are designed for teaching cadets about leadership and teamwork via video teleconference, but it is now up to the individual students more than ever to maintain their physical fitness. 

“Each and every officer is expected to maintain their physical fitness level, and it is a personal responsibility,” Chase said. “The change is the cadets are facing the expectation earlier in their training, as opposed to once they are officers in the National Guard, Reserves or Regular Army.”

One of the biggest challenges Army ROTC is facing is the decreased quality of interactions, Chase said. O’Dell said even with emails and Zoom being able to help, it has been hard to replace the in-person, face-to-face interactions.

“It is a significant challenge to replicate the quality of interaction between people as they meet and solve problems in-person,” Chase said. 

Chase said Army ROTC is losing out on some of its key training events in the spring, like the spring field training exercise, rifle range day, the in-person commissioning ceremony and the Chancellor’s Review, where all ROTC branches put on full press uniforms, show themselves to Chancellor Green and guests, and then march and present awards.

O’Dell said he’s personally disappointed that they are unable to do any of the training exercises, which are an opportunity for ROTC students to learn about their future careers in a hands-on way. 

Chase said scholarships will not be affected, but the same can’t be said for all internships. Chase said one cadet was scheduled to go to Germany for an internship opportunity this summer, but the internship has been canceled. Chase said all the other internships at this time are unaffected, but it may be subject to change.

O’Dell is one of the cadets with an internship this summer, but said he’s unsure if it will still be happening.

“My nuclear science and engineering research center internship for the summer is currently up in the air,” he said. “I do not know exactly what will happen with it at this point. I guess I’m waiting and seeing what will happen, like most people right now.”

Although Army ROTC has been experiencing difficulties adjusting to its change in operations, the program is still striving to continue benefiting all of the cadets. Despite the challenges, O’Dell said he is maintaining optimism about the situation, and Chase said cadet leadership has responded exceptionally well to the new changes. 

“While recognizing there will be many personal and professional challenges to our cadets, we also talk to our cadets about seeking opportunities that this may create for them,” Chase said. “Leaders are always responsible for mitigating setbacks and exploiting opportunities.”