BCC arrests affect Army ROTC members

Members of Army ROTC refrained from wearing uniforms to class Thursday.

On any other Thursday, freshman Army ROTC member Ryan Drago would be wearing his uniform in class. But not this Thursday, two days after two members of the Navy ROTC were arrested on suspicion of hate crimes and tampering for allegedly dropping cotton balls Feb. 26 outside the Black Culture Center.

All of Army ROTC's 125 members refrained from wearing uniforms to class Thursday, Army ROTC Executive Officer Joe McCoskrie said.

"We just want to do what we can to make sure we don't further instigate any problems," McCoskrie said. "We're sympathetic to how these things can cause conflict, and we want to make sure we avoid conflict."

Drago said the decision not to wear uniforms Thursday was one made by the Army ROTC as a whole.

"Not wearing uniforms today was a personal decision for all of us," Drago said. "But what we do, we do together."

McCoskrie said the MU Police Department contacted Army and Navy ROTC to inform them there would be an increased police presence Thursday around Crowder Hall in response to the arrests of Navy ROTC members senior Zachary Tucker and freshman Sean Fitzgerald. Army ROTC also canceled its regular Thursday afternoon study hall session in Crowder Hall.

Navy ROTC functions separate from Army ROTC and chose to wear uniforms as usual, Navy ROTC Executive Officer Michael Waldhauser said.

"Our programs work out of the same building, but other than that they're pretty much completely separate," McCoskrie said. "We have separate leadership."

Army ROTC members will wear their uniforms on their next class day, Tuesday.

"The changes will only be in place for today," McCoskrie said. "Next week everything will be back to normal for us."

Navy ROTC Commanding Officer Robert Wilson said the crimes at the BCC were contrary to the Navy's core values.

"The Navy is committed to and has continued to be at the forefront of equal opportunity and awareness, and I concur with Chancellor (Brady) Deaton in that, like the University of Missouri, the Navy is fully committed to tolerance and respect for everyone," Wilson said in a news release.

Wilson said Navy ROTC's punishment of Tucker and Fitzgerald will be in accordance with that of the university.

"As the university has suspended the students, the NROTC program will place them on an interim leave of absence, pending the university investigation," Wilson said. "If they are removed from the university, then they must be removed from the NROTC program as well."

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