ROTC: What to Expect This Semester

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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.”



  1. Dean Moody-Adams re ROTC

    Oct 2, 2010: http://advocatesforrotc.org/columbia/2010MoodyAdams.pdf

    “I invite you to consider whether the right question may no longer be “How could we ever formally recognize ROTC on our campus,” but, instead, “How can we not welcome them back?””

    • columbiasds68

      An alternative way to phrase the question for Columbia College and Barnard College students (and all other Columbia University students) to vote on in an official student referendum in 2011 might be: "Should Columbia University begin training U.S. military officers on its campus in 2011 for the U.S. military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? " Also, Bwog readers who don't think the Columbia Administration should again set up a ROTC unit or an NROTC unit on its campus in 2011, might be interested in checking out the Harvard Crimson article of a few months ago at the following link--

      • LBB12  

        that crimson article was nicely done. it is way to soon to reinstate ROTC

      • How about asking

        ... this question, instead: Should Columbia University begin training U.S. military officers on its campus in 2011 ... for homeland defense, disaster relief, crisis stabilization, ministerial training, conflict prevention, security and stability, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, essential government services, emergency infrastructure, and humanitarian aid?

        Reference: "America needs ROTC at Columbia", Columbia Spectator, Sep 13, 2010

        • ...  

          well if we only wanted to have a standing army purely for homeland defense, our army would only need to be about 1/100th of the size it is now. counterinsurgency only applies if we have invaded another country. Counterterrorism is usually carried out by smaller more specialized agencies. and pretty much everything else you mentioned should be taken care of by government organizations that don't carry guns.

          A massive army like one that costs over 600 billion dollars is outdated unless you want to engage in aggressive interventionist military action

        • columbiasds68

          Until the U.S. military is eventually unionized and institutionally democratized--so that people in the U.S. military are allowed, for example, to individually or collectively refuse to obey orders to fight overseas in endless "presidential wars" outside the national borders of the United States (like the current Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan wars) --a vote for the return of ROTC to Columbia's campus would, in fact, primarily be a vote for Columbia University to start training U.S. military officers to continue overseas military interventions that don't contribute to the less morally objectionable missions that you've mentioned. Another article that Bwog readers who don't think the Columbia Administration should set up an ROTC or NROTC unit on its campus (especially in the absence of an official Columbia College-Barnard College-Columbia University student-wide democratic referendum) might be interested in checking out is the Stanford Daily op-ed column of a few months ago that was posted at the following link:

      • FYI  

        FYI, the poster above (columbiasds68) is a guy named Bob Feldman from the Class of 1968, who for some reason, trolls the Spec and the Bwog posting random sh*t. He's one of those pathetic alumni who can never quite move on. He also writes "protest folk songs" and puts them on Youtube. The fact that he expects students today to listen to him is frankly an embarassment. The guy is an aging hippie who hasn't gotten his hair cut in ages.

        I was frankly ambivalent about returning ROTC to Columbia, but then I decided if Bob Feldman is the antiquated, embarassing, unshaven face of opposition to ROTC, I'm gonna vote yes.

        • Michael Segal

          Alumni should be free to express their views, and there is nothing wrong per se with keeping to views similar to those of one's undergraduate years. In a week in which people ask what JFK would have thought about the issues of our day, it is good to have people from 1968 to give us a flavor of the atmosphere of the time (assuming, of course, that we are not being fooled by a Fake Bob Feldman).

  2. mike

    Why are they only polling the undergrad schools and SIPA? No one in GSAS should get a say in the matter?

  3. CC '12

    Why should GSAS get a vote? It doesn't affect you guys at all. You just want a soapbox to pump out your holier-than-thou views.

    • Blame Baron von Steuben

      All that marching stuff, the bemusing Army drill, was introduced by Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben while professionalizing the Continental Army to a European standard in the American Revolution. During the winter of 1778-79, von Steuben prepared "Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States," which is also known as the "Blue Book." Its basis was the plan he devised at Valley Forge while training ragtag America militiamen to become soldiers who could compete with the highly proficient British military.

      Baron von Steuben is revered in the US Army heritage. His historical contribution is one of the first things Army cadets learn when they become cadets. Interestingly enough, given the receding backdrop of DADT, it's widely believed that Baron von Steuben was gay.

      It would be awesome to see Columbia cadets doing military drill again on campus.

  4. Joe

    if the faculty really cared about DADT before, they would never have let the military recruit on campus and simply foregone the federal dollars. Obviously their moral stance isn't worth whatever federal funding they received

  5. Joe

    Also, the only reason you are able to get on your soap box and criticize the military from your comfortable position in a padded chair in Lenfest is because American soldiers fought and died for your right to do so.

  6. loyalist  

    this is comical. down with the senate, they represent an evil worse body than that which the student body revolted against in 1968. PrezBo, we call on you to act! We call on you to stand with us! We call on you to hear our voices. Rid the administration on the power hungry senate....the all just want to graduate with honors despite the necessary hard work. I believe in the aptitude of the admins to do great things, but not so much in the inflated egos of senators.

  7. Anonymous  

    I'm still voting no

    • LOL  

      Go ahead. Doesn't change the fact that you are on the wrong side of history.

      • Anonymous  

        Yeah you're right. The United States military is always on the "right" side of history.

        • LOL  

          Go back to your anthropology paper, hippie.

          • Anonymous  

            I'm a science major but okay. I'll leave you to your blind support and/or hero-worship of an organization that eats a huge portion of the budget, commits various atrocities around the globe, and doesn't actually make me or any other American any safer.

          • Joe

            "eats a huge portion of the budget" - correct. why do you think we weren't attacked and overrun long ago by any number of maniacs, including kim jong il, iran, or china? because we're nice guys? nope. the reason is we spend more than the rest of the world on national defense so you can sleep safely at night.

            "commits various atrocities" - yeah what are these "atrocities" you are referring to? My lai? Abu Ghraib? the Wikileaks vid? those are probably the only three incidents you can name. considering that the US is involved in multiple conflicts every year around the globe and has a 24/7 worldwide combat presence AND additionally is constantly bringing aid to the poor and those suffering from national disasters and running various other relief missions, you'd figure that there are going to be some bad things done. statistically it's unavoidable. but let's just penalize the military, a gigantic organization, for the work of a few bad apples. by that logic, we should shut down the entire US government generally.

            bottom line is, you think that columbia grad liberals with big hearts are the ones delivering food and water cargo for the poor into disaster and combat zones? nope. that's the US military.

            "doesn't actually make me or any other American any safer"
            I can't even dignify this with a response. How can you say something so ignorant? The only reason you sleep soundly at night is because the US military is working 24/7 to protect you. You think the the rest of the world doesn't covet what you have, and doesn't resent your values or religion? You are highly, highly mistaken. The world is a very big, dangerous place, and it's foolish of you to think that we would be in the same situation we're in without a large, powerful military.

            Who do you think protected Europe from the Russians for fifty years? Who literally saved the world in World War II? Who is fighting in Afghanistan and killing Taliban and Al Queda who would love to see the US wiped off the map? Not you my friend. Enjoy your prosperity, safety, and freedom and then get on the Internet and make chickensh*t, cowardly comments about the US military.

          • Anonymous  

            You are the coward, "Joe," if that is your real name. It's pretty easy in a country that is obsessed with its military, which relentlessly funds a destructive military-industrial complex at the expense of taking care of its own citizens, to stand behind and defend the military (pretty ironic). Tell me, Joe. How did the Iraq war improve my security? And how is that war in Afghanistan going? WWII is one thing, every war since then is quite different. It's not fucking 1945 anymore, Joe. People like you greatly overstate the threat that NK, Iran and China pose without any real understanding of the situation. It's nothing but disingenuous fearmongering. The military could defend America just fine without that extra destroyer or sweetheart military contract. But people like you give them the perfect excuse to rob the American taxpayer and hide behind the veil of "defending freedom" something they haven't actually done since WWII.

          • Not Joe  

            Mmk, "anonymous" if that's your real name.

          • And then I read your comment  

            Wow, you're sadly misinformed, anonymous. Find some other outlet for your 'concerned taxpayer' bullshit

          • Ummm...  

            I'd just like to point out that the US military just follows orders from this guy called the Commander and Chief (i.e THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) and that Congress declares war and decides the budget for the military. The military follows the orders of the people you elect (if you vote) or the people you fail to prevent getting elected (by not voting). At the end of the day, the American government, not the military is responsible for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you sir, are responsible for the election of the leaders who have done this. And you if hate their policies, go protest--but keep in mind that it is the solider who personally defends your freedom to do so.

            Seriously, don't be a bigot--just because you disagree with American politics or the decisions of American politicians does not mean that you need to degrade the soldier; the soldier sacrifices time away from his/her home and family, sweat, blood and sometimes even his/her life to protect the liberties and freedoms that you enjoy (and I would venture to say that you, in particular, take for granted). George Orwell once wrote that "[w]e sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." It might do you some good to consider what I've just said.

          • To anonymous science major

            You do know that, while ROTC on campus would be a much better ROTC option than exists now for CUers, ROTC on campus would not force you personally to join the military, right?

            I mean, I'm a liberal arts guy who believes scientific advances are probably behind the spike in cancer rates and other illnesses around the world that cost more in lives and resources than war, but I'm not calling for the sciences to be kicked out of Columbia.

            Even if you personally won't choose the option, why do you want to deprive your classmates who might benefit from ROTC on campus?

          • I think  

            It's because our friend the anonymous science major believes he (or she) is better than his classmates, and knows whats best for his classmates, and must impose his views on his classmates to protect them from themselves.

          • Anonymous Science Major  

            Most likely, nobody is reading this thread anymore but I'll say one more thing on my position. Why was it okay to ban ROTC in the first place? I'm pretty sure it was Vietnam. Then the reason shifted to DADT. Now that DADT has been repealed (though implementation is far from instantaneous and there are lingering issues according to the LGBT community such as transgender individuals) suddenly there's no reason to ban ROTC anymore? This could very well be true, but it should come with a careful examination of the issues, not a couple month knee-jerk reaction. Now, I think that at a private university the matters I raised are of fair concern and worth considering in any debate to bring ROTC back to campus. I'm not degrading soldiers and I don't think I know better than anyone else. I am simply of the opinion that we should suppress the knee-jerk fawning and worshipping reaction people have to the military and actually have a discussion.

  8. ROTC  

    It's about damn time, Columbia.

  9. mike

    GSAS has several active duty officers.

  10. Student polls


    Formal student polls on ROTC were conducted in 2003 and 2008, not 2005. The 2003 poll on ROTC, conducted by CCSC, was about 2:1 in favor of ROTC. The 2008 poll on NROTC was just about 1:1, slightly against NROTC. SEAS and GS voted for NROTC, while Barnard and CC voted against NROTC.

  11. And then I read your comment  

    Wow you are sadly misinformed, anonymous. Find some other outlet for your 'concerned taxpayer' diatribe...

  12. Mike  

    So shouldn't the same thing be said about SIPA? There are several veterans, former military members, and active duty members in GSAS. And additionally, why do you assume, like an idiot that I would vote against ROTC? I'm for it.

  13. anon

    Give me an argument against the reinstatement of ROTC on campus that doesn't immediately conflate a program that trains people who want to serve their country and attend college with the vast, imperialistic, money-swallowing, military industrial-complex.

    Maybe, just maybe, the military, for all its flaws, would benefit in some small way from having more Columbia grads in it.

  14. Really?  

    \Until the U.S. military is eventually unionized and institutionally democratized\

    I saw this, rolled my eyes, and resolved that you are a crazy old man, Bob.

  15. Obama is an ROTC advocate

    To quote President Obama tonight:
    “Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

  16. USMC

    Most of the great men you learn about in CC and Early American History, Middle Eastern history and early alumni were military men. You are barely worthy of even reading about them if you can't understand and appreciate the military. I don't really expect much more from a cadre of privileged teens and professors who teach four contact hours per week and expect a higher salary.

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