Military ban raises equality discussion on campus

A+female+ROTC+cadet+crouches+during+a+ROTC+field+exercise.

A female ROTC cadet crouches during a ROTC field exercise.

Kevin Steiger

After news broke that the ban on females in combat roles would be abolished by 2016, students and Huskie Battalion members reacted to the prospect of posts being available to women for the first time.

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that 230,000 posts, including those on the front lines, will open as the ban is abolished.

There are a total of 18 women in the NIU Huskie ROTC Battalion, according to Charles Noble, ROTC scholarship and enrollments officer. ROTC is a program in which students can join to become an officer in various branches of the military.

Mustafa Sahin is also a part of the Huskie ROTC Battalion. The freshman business management major believes that women should be able to serve in combat roles in the military.

“I accept the change, but if women want to join the infantry or something, they should have to meet the same standards that men have to face, too,” Sahin said.

Alicja Golec, junior public health major, is also a part of the Huskie Battalion.

“If a female is capable of handling the stress and intensity or being in an infantry occupation, who are we to stop them?” Golec said. “Occupational specialties within the military should be based on the ability of the service member to perform their duties, rather than their sex.”

Some students share these opinions. Sophomore business major Kelsey Davis said women can handle combat roles just like men.

“This will establish equality between men and women in the army,” Davis said.

Freshman undeclared major Adrian Martinez said the change will give women more respect in the army.

The Pentagon restriction toward women serving in combat on the ground was altered in 1994. Women cannot be assigned below the brigade level – a unit of about 3500 – troops to fight on the ground. The services have until January 2016 to implement the changes.