The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

ROTC cadet encounters disrespect

Michael Mellinger first chose Guilford College for the school’s outstanding German department and its new track and field program. He also picked it for its proximity to a host Reserved Officers’ Training Corps program that he could attend down the road at NC A&T University.

He became a cadet because he wanted to join the military after college in a leadership-based role. ROTC allowed him the opportunity to get an education “while being protected in school from deployment,” as he put it.

Despite Guilford’s academic and extracurricular opportunities that seemed to fit so well with Mellinger’s needs, he left after only a year.

He transferred his sophomore year due to several incidents of students shouting offensive slurs and a couple of incidents of people spitting at him while he was in uniform.

“I made sure to not react (because) I represented not only myself, but the United States as well,” he said.

So, to whom it may concern:

You’re anti-war? Fine. That’s your belief and I won’t judge you for it. I certainly won’t spit on you. I will, however, judge you for your actions. You’re disrespectful, you’re immature and you haven’t learned that your narrow-mindedness can profoundly impact your peers.

Your fellow student transferred because of you. You drove away a student from Guilford because you didn’t like what his uniform stood for.

Don’t hide behind your faith. That’s cowardly. I understand that Quakerism denounces warfare. I’m not asking you to support it. Though Guilford is a Quaker school, students are not required to adhere to the Quaker faith and anyone who differs in opinion or action has the right to do just that. You cannot justify your actions through faith, because no faith, not a single one, condones acting in this manner towards a fellow human.

It’s intolerance, plain and simple.

“Let it be known that I did not let these students get the best of me,” said Mellinger. “The administration was equally as bad, and that bothered me. My goal was to stay at Guilford for as long as possible to prove that I would not succumb to those who had a difference of opinion.

“I made a ton of good friends who accepted me for who I was. Some of my friends were Quakers. During my time there, they became my brothers — my family away from home.”

One of the main reasons that Mellinger finally transferred was that “most people (at Guilford) had no interest in anything but their beliefs,” which, he added, included professors.

At no point, said Mellinger, did the administration or student body carry out the values of equality and acceptance that Guilford touts, with the exception of a select few.

“The servicemen and women put themselves in harm’s way to defend a nation that has provided them with an opportunity to excel as human beings,” he said.

Guilford made him question this principle.

“I questioned the fact that if people treat me like this, what am I really defending? In the end, I would be defending my fellow soldiers, for they would be the only ones who would understand,” said Mellinger. “I would be defending my family and my friends, and that is more than enough reason to stand on the front line.”

Mellinger is currently a sophomore at Appalachian State University majoring in psychology, and he intends to study clinical abnormal psychology to help soldiers who suffer from PTSD.

He embodies the core values of our school. Someone who would treat a man in uniform as a second-class citizen, and who would go so far as to insult and intimidate him, does not embody these principles.

According to our school’s website, “Guilford’s longstanding mission is clear and distinctive: to provide a transformative, practical and excellent liberal arts education for every student.”

The “timeless” core values of community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice and stewardship that Guilford so proudly publicizes evidently fall short sometimes.

So, to whom it may concern: remember that you’re a part of the whole. You cannot expect that everyone you’ll meet in life will share your opinions and you cannot react to those who stand in opposition to your ideals by sinking so low that you would spit at another human being.

View Comments (5)
More to Discover

Comments (5)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • L

    Lyes BenarbaneFeb 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Hmm, despite your attempt to not address the substantiative points of my post (not even a little bit). I’m going to still give you the benefit of a doubt and do a point by point refutation.

    Firstly, my point about your dishonesty hasn’t even been mentioned. The point of that post was that it is fundamentally dishonest to ignore how much praise service members get in our society. This is while you’re trying to begin a conversation about how we’re being insincere to our core values. On the subject of core values, I think it’s pretty audacious to claim that fellow members in our community are somehow bigots because they might question the basic concept of military service, or that they are “hiding behind their faith” for living out their convictions.

    On a basic level your article more than subtly implies that people who are uncomfortable with military service are somehow morally questionable, even worse, you seem to think that our values should be relegated to history. What do you think “peace” as a testimony/value means? Because it certainly seems that you’re emphasizing Mike’s military service in opposition to the value.

    Here’s another question: why did you include the same tired lines about service that we hear so often? If you wanted to have a sincere conversation about the disrespect Mike may or may not have encountered, why did you feel the need to include the same tired lines about how great service is? Frankly, I don’t think Mike’s choice to join the military makes him any more an embodiment of our core values than someone else. To me, it seems that Mike may have made the decision to come to Guilford prematurely, especially if he resents Quaker nonviolence and the type of education students receive here.

  • C

    CristinaFeb 14, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Hey Darren,The esaeist way to get in touch with Coach Huckaby is to email him or call our Admissions Department at 800.946.7773.Thanks!

  • C

    Casey HorganFeb 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    First of all, I appreciate that you both took the time to read this article and voice your opinions. They’re always welcome. Respectably, I’d like to address some of your points.

    The message of my article is absolutely not that “Guilford is intolerant because we don’t laud military members in the way I’d like.” I specifically stated in my article that if you don’t believe in war or the military in general that, “That’s your belief and I won’t judge you for it.” I never argue anything along the lines of supporting the troops, because that’s not the issue at hand. What I am outraged at is that Guilford students would go as far as to spit on and taunt an ROTC cadet.

    And as for me being dishonest for not “even admit[ting] it’s totally unacceptable in wider society to question the role that the military plays in our lives,” again, that’s not the issue I tried to tackle with this article. What’s unacceptable is that some people feel it’s admissible to demean, threaten, and berate a fellow student. That’s not questioning the role that the military plays in society … that’s being a bigot.

    We don’t have to agree with everyone at this school. We don’t have to like them. But it’s hypocritical that our school boasts core values of diversity, equality and stewardship, and we still have people behaving this way. My article was aimed at those select few people.

  • L

    Lyes BenarbaneFeb 12, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    This is nonsense, not only for the tropes that the writer includes in the piece (the ending paragraph in particular), but for the round about way that it tries to blame our school for apparently not being inclusive. Firstly, I have serious doubts that Mike was ever spit on while in uniform, in fact, I doubt that many of the “incidents” that the author seems outraged by took place in the way she’s hinting at. I want to say that I’m sorry that Mike chose to leave, in fact, if I had the opportunity to meet him, I would have probably tried to convince him to stay. That does not mean, however, that I think our school culture should somehow be more receptive towards members of the military than the myriad other groups on campus who might feel marginalized. I not only think that the subject of the article is questionable, but also that you’re DISHONEST if you wont even admit it’s totally unacceptable in wider society to question the role that the military plays in our lives. Signs of support for service members are ubiquitous, if you don’t believe me, go out and drive for about 20 minutes and you’ll see a yellow ribbon. It seems that your article’s more subtle message is: Guilford is intolerant because we don’t laud military members in the way I’d like.

    I also don’t think i’m the only one in our community who might feel this way.

  • P

    PeterFeb 5, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    People who joins the military doesn’t just have a difference of opinion. They have decided to become accomplices to the atrocities committed by our government, a gravely immoral act. Now I understand that it can be hard to see through all the jingoist propaganda, so I have some sympathy these recruits. I don’t condone spitting on them. But I find it very troubling that you’re more outraged about the rudeness shown to this cadet than the tens of thousands of innocent civilians slaughtered by our military over the last ten years.