Academic Senate voted Tuesday in favor of giving ceremonial honor cords to student veterans collecting benefits through Central Michigan University’s Veterans Resource Center.
The cords are the third in a line of non-academic commencement recognition cords, and will be given to student veterans graduating this month and in the following years hereafter.
“This is more than just a mantel piece,” said Senator Sandy Lane, an A-Senate Student Government Association representative and a Gulf War veteran. “This is a part of your life and it means something. Infantry and paratrooper units wear cords of different colors when they graduate from training, and, in a way, this carries on that tradition by having these cords.”
The proposal was drafted in the SGA legislature by Lane and Brett Packer, president of the CMU chapter of Student Veterans of America. Within the proposal, Lane and Packer cite nearly 1,000 students on and off campus who identify as veterans of the military. Of those, about 250 are on-campus students and 750 are within the Global Campus framework.
In addition to giving credence to the years of service these students have endured in the pursuit of a higher education, the cords act as a signpost for CMU as a military-friendly campus.
“At last count by SVA chapters nationwide in February 2013, there are 28 institutions of higher education that currently allow veteran graduation recognition,” read the proposal. “Central Michigan University would be the first current Mid-American Conference institution to approve this honor and would set an example for a truly ‘military-friendly campus,’ and would pave the way for other schools to honor and recognize veterans.”
In order for student veterans to receive the cords, they must submit an application for graduation to the appropriate office. From there, students must verify records of service and confirm their military status with the Veterans Resource Center, which will in turn notify the student if they are eligible.
All students must have the DD 214 form on file with the Veterans Resource Center and must be receiving benefits through the office to receive the cord, as well.
The measure was met with a wave of support from A-Senate, yet the governing body did have its detractors.
“No disrespect to our military veterans, but is that somewhere we want to go, cords for things that aren’t CMU related or related to academics?” said Senator Benjamin Heumann, a geography instructor.
Senator Salma Ghanem said Heumann’s concern should not be an issue when looking at the contributions from student veterans.
“This is something that we should support wholeheartedly,” she said. “Yes, it is not an academic recognition, but this is something that trumps academia. To be more dramatic: If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Lane said signing up for active duty in the military meant more than just serving his country – it was the first step in his road to an education.
“For my generation, that’s what it was all about,” the 42-year-old said. “When parents signed away their kids, they knew it was all for college. It was just part of the process and that was the goal.”