The photos above were taken at Temple University in Philadelphia. But a similar event at Arizona State University has generated controversy this week. An anonymous post on Reddit alleged that cadets there were required to participate, and would get a negative mark for not supporting the “sharp” mission, an Army acronym for the Army’s Sexual Harrassment/Assault Response & Prevention program.
The post has generated attention from a variety of conservative publications, including RedState (Headline: “Army forces ROTC cadets to wear high heels”) NewsMax (“ROTC Cadets required to Wear High Heels with Combat Uniform”) and The Washington Times (“Army ROTC program allegedly pressured cadets to walk in high heels for ASU event”).
A spokesman for U.S. Army Cadet Command, Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick, said ROTC units across the country were directed to participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month events on their campuses “to help stamp out sexual assault on the campuses where they have a presence.” But Maj. Gen. Peggy C. Combs, the cadets’ commanding general, did not direct how the units would do so, and had other events as options, Haverstick said.
You can click through to look at the pictures if you want. You’ve likely seen them by now.
This is errant stupidity from Cadet Command. “Raising Awareness” is just about the dumbest approach to virtually any problem. If someone on campus today isn’t aware of the frenzy surrounding so-called “rape culture” on campus, they aren’t going to be enlightened by this.
As someone in the comments at WaPo notes, this is little more than the modern analog of the Maoist self flagellation for not supporting the Cultural Revolution.
Does that mean Army ROTC shouldn’t support Sexual Assault Awareness Month? No. It shouldn’t be the prime focus of ROTC. Cadets have enough on their plates between earning their degrees and fulfilling their commitments to learning military arts and sciences.
But Army ROTC could have partnered with other organizations on campus. Army Sexual Harassment and Assault Reporting and Prevention Training (SHARP) is such a good deal that soldiers have to go through it on a recurring basis. Maybe ROTC could have invited interested groups and students to attend a SHARP class and see for themselves the Army view on best practices for reporting and prevention. Or the ROTC could have hosted a train-the-trainer program for victims advocacy groups on how best to support victims of harassment and assault.
Cadet Command can spin this any way they want, but they come out of this looking stupid, maybe not so much on campus, but certainly with their end customers, the troop units of the Army itself.