Just before the end of the semester, the Student Affairs Committee of the university senate announced a task force on ROTC. Coming just a day after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, they seemed remarkably reactive. “Last semester we had an inkling that there could be action by the government in this year about ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ so the student activities committee wanted to be prepared in the event that there was a repeal,” Ron Mazor, the student Co-Chair of the Task Force confirmed.

Senator Mazor, CC’ 09 and Law School class of ’12, was tapped to be the chair of that committee, on account of his “good looks” (funny!). He’s never been involved with ROTC issues before, but came to Columbia in 2005, just after the senate last voted on the issue, and for the 2008 undergraduate referendum. He said he honestly didn’t know what the senate’s stance was this time around (2005’s results were 51 against to 13 for reintroduction), nor did he have a sense of the general student opinion, but definitely felt that the repeal very much changed the circumstances: “DADT was really, as well it should have been, a motivating and driving force behind decisions regarding ROTC.”

The task force is launching a website soon, and organizing three successive town halls in February, in venues that can accommodate over 400 people. Although the total attendance of town hall meetings in 2005 was only about 200, Mazor believed there might be a difference this time around, now that senior administrators including Dean Moody-Adams and Provost Steele have expressed “very very strong interest” in being a part of the meetings. There will again be a student poll, open to all the undergraduate schools, and SIPA. In contrast to the senate’s vote, the 2003 student poll saw about 65% voted in favor, and the 2005 2008 poll on NROTC found students were nearly divided 50/50. Once the website is launched, the dates of the meetings will be announced. For now the issue has yet to really gather steam, once it does we will certainly tell you!

Further thoughts? The task force is actively soliciting community members opinions via  rotc-taskforce@columbia.edu. Mazor adds: “Our open submission policy is a key part of our outreach, as we want to make sure that everyone in our community who cares about ROTC will be able to express their opinion.”