A Window Into the Past: NYU in Retrospect
academics       Response to the War


War time

In 1918, a plan for military instruction in all American colleges, to be monitored by the War Department, was announced. Through a contract with the Department, a unit of the National Army Training Detachment was established at NYU. Known as the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), the group would be co-administrated by the army and the university and would train college students for military service.
Special courses like “War Aims” were introduced. By the time the SATC was demobilized the December after the Armistice, over 1,000 soldiers had been trained by the program.

In 1919, the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) was organized to offer “the opportunity for a man to learn the value of proper discipline, to develop physically and to gain a valuable lesson in the handling of men. Lastly, the training tends to inculcate patriotism and love of the FLAG of our Country.” (Violet, 1920)

Widespread anti-war feelings sprouted in the aftermath of the first world war and students expressed their disapproval of military training on campus by taking a pacifist oath, the Oxford pledge. But peace was short-lived and with the U.S. entrance into the Second World War, life at NYU changed once again.

The war took its toll on NYU’s male enrollment. Female enrollment increased and women were encouraged to enter programs traditionally filled by men. Military training and intensive programs began anew at the Heights. The Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, and Dentistry as well as the Graduate School were especially involved and their programs, although still open to civilians, became more geared toward military training. During the war years almost 30,000 students were trained at NYU. The university also participated at a different level: it sent many of its employees to federal agencies to work.

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