Luqman Stroud thought he'd be the last person who would end up in a college class that prepared students to become military officers. A Brooklyn native who got his GED and left John Dewey High School early because, he says, he was bored with school, Stroud was making good money in his family's construction business at age 20. And even when he was talked into giving college a shot, it was with the goal to become a policy lawyer, not an army officer. Besides, he had reason to be wary of armed authority: At age 13, he says, a New York police officer handcuffed him during an argument at his house, put a gun to his head and said, "I've killed three of your kind already."
Yet last fall, the 25-year-old Stroud found himself sitting in Military Science 1 at York College, part of the effort to re-establish Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs at the City University of New York for the first time since before the Vietnam War, and the larger effort by the military to put themselves back in urban areas throughout the country. Drawn by an interest in military history -- and the hope of an easy A -- he'd enrolled in the class during his senior year more as a test than anything else. After a lifetime of challenging police officers when they tried to search him without cause, Stroud wanted to see what it would be like to challenge the Establishment on its own turf. He knows soldiers aren't cops, but they have uniforms and guns and they work for "the man," and Stroud will tell you that the perception is the same. "I walked in there with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," he recalled. "What can a guy in the Army teach me as a civilian?"