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University dedicates rappel tower

December 22, 2011 12:00AM

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Pittsburg State University senior Kole Giles wasn’t much of a daredevil growing up, but that has certainly changed since he came to college and joined PSU’s Army ROTC program.

It seemed he’d barely begun his freshman year before he was at the top of the 30-foot rappel tower near Weede Gymnasium, nervously preparing to skirt down with the help of just two ropes. Since his only prior experience with scaling heights had been a poorly executed rock wall climb as a kid, Giles said his rappel tower experience at PSU was crucial to his confidence as a future lieutenant.

“It would have been a very quick rappelling session,” had it gone bad, he joked to the crowd gathered to celebrate the construction of a new rappel tower near the PSU Student Recreation Center/ Kansas National Guard Armory on Nov. 30.

Giles, the PSU Gorilla Battalion Commander, as well as 91 other ROTC students at PSU, will benefit greatly from the new, 40-foot tower, an $80,000 gift to the university by a group of donors including the Ivan Crossland, Sr. family. Dedicated Wednesday as the Ivan Crossland, Sr., Rappel Tower, the structure will help ROTC students as they train their bodies and minds for their impending careers in the military.

President Steve Scott told the crowd at the dedication that the relationship between Army ROTC and the campus is strong. 

“It’s a relationship that is built on the common goal of providing our students with the education, the training and the leadership skills that will allow them to achieve their full potential,” Scott said.

The president said that at a time ROTC programs at some other universities declined because of a lack of interest or support, PSU’s Gorilla Battalion grew stronger.

“I’m proud to say that this university’s commitment to the ROTC program and that of its community never wavered,” Scott said.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Col. Dean Shultis, Third Brigade Commander, spoke about the “courage of commitment,” and how one’s success of the front lines greatly depends on the realism of their training as well as the commitment of “those on our right and left.” Rappelling is an apt example, he said, because the person rappelling is counting on the backup of his or her belayer, who can tighten the rope to prevent them from falling.

For the students at PSU, the addition of a new tower (which replaces the aging, dilapidated tower across campus) is a tangible example of how the university and community support their training.

“We’re privileged to utilize this equipment and be able to build the confidence we need,” Giles said. “It’s a great feeling knowing so many people support us here and support the Army in general.”

©2011 Pittsburg State University