ROTC Hearings, Part 1: “No Catcalls, Please”

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Last night, Conor Skelding attended the first of the three hearings organized by USenate’s Task Force on Military Engagement. These hearings mark the preliminary stage of the Senate investigation into ROTC’s potential return. Here’s his report:

The first public hearing by the Senate’s Task Force on Military Engagement was held in the IAB Altschul Auditorium, where the 50 or so attendees hardly filled the room.  Veterans, GS and graduate school students, alumni, and sign-laden CC students gathered in distinct groups to oppose policy change.

After an introduction by the Task Force and explanation of the rules, anyone affiliated with the University was allowed to speak. Although the hearing started off slowly, after five or so speakers, the atmosphere in the room grew intense. A ten minute break offered some pause for reflection, while the groups for and against repeal clearly divided up to plan for the second half.  As the night progressed, members of the ROTC opposition began to hiss and yell, prompting the moderator to warn, “No catcalls, please.”

Primary arguments against increasing the University’s engagement with the military were:

  • The military still discriminates against transgendered citizens.
  • In inviting the ROTC, Columbia would be supporting imperialistic military actions abroad.
  • The military has a record of misogynist sexual abuse.
  • The military recruits among low-income areas specifically.
  • Students should not be force to serve “as mercenaries” in exchange for their tuition.

Primary arguments in favor were:

  • The military is flawed, and Columbia students could change it from the inside-out.
  • There is a rift between civilians and service men and women which can be healed by having cadets on campus.
  • Students should have the option to join the ROTC on campus.

The next Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 15th, in 309 Havemeyer Hall, 7:30-9:30 PM.

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  1. Anonymous  

    The arguments about transgender individuals is clearly senseless. Transgendered people are a small minority and should not be co-opted as relevant outside the confines of your queer theory class.

    The real problem with ROTC, however, is the profoundly submissive and unintellectual nature of the military. As an institution claiming a dedication to free expression and higher thought, Columbia must oppose ROTC (a sibling of the military), an institution which stifles human expression in exchange for order, brutality and hierarchy.

    Simplified: the military is the negative inverse of the academy. They should not be mixed.

    • Anonymous  

      Wow, you're looking to piss off both sides!

    • right  

      because the military should be full of independent free-thinkers who look within themselves for the solutions to problems and throw of the shackles of social hierarchy.

      that sounds like a very efficient group of soldiers.

    • this  

      is extremely well argued. i agree.

    • The Army wants smart leaders

      “Future Army forces require lifelong learners who are creative and critical thinkers with highly refined problem solving skills and the ability to process and transform data and information rapidly and accurately into usable knowledge, across a wide range of subjects, to develop strategic thinkers capable of applying operational art to the strategic requirements of national policy.”
      –The United States Army Operating Concept 2016-2028

      Actually, the Army wants independent free-thinkers who operate in an heirarchy. In the real world, not just the Army, that's the formula for getting things get done. Army officers just happen to operate in complex, unpredictable, intellectually challenging environments that would paralyze most academics. So the typical graduate of Columbia ROTC would need every bit of both his Columbia education and his ROTC training to succeed as an officer. Our hope is that combining the two enhances both.

      • Anonymous

        Quoting an operational concept document as if that proves the Army is looking for free thinkers is highly disingenuous. In the first place, there's no guarantee the operational concept will be acted on by 2028. But more importantly, it's just a buzzword-laden piece of paper churned out by some circlejerking headquarters. The highest echelons of the military constantly use lofty language to describe an organization that bears little resemblance to the military that exists on the ground. The military, and the Army in particular, is notoriously risk averse. Furthermore, free thinking cannot be restricted to the narrow tactical context in which bright-eyed lieutenants are going to find themselves confined. Inviting free thinkers to "operate in a hierarchy" is a recipe for disaster unless they are not allowed to read the news. If the Army truly wants free thinkers then it needs to break out a psychology textbook and read up on the effects of cognitive dissonance.

        Put in a context where they don't feel the need to circle the wagons against real or imaginary foes, most veterans will tell you these things. Unfortunately, the arguments for bringing ROTC to Columbia seem to be motivated by in-group interest more than well thought-out points. And that is really a shame given the generally uninformed, fallacious, and caricatured arguments thrown out by their opponents.

        • The Army wants smart leaders

          The Army Operating Concept 2016-2028, which follows on the 2010 Army Capstone Concept, is anticipating the needs of the Army for the years 2016 to 2028. That's right around the corner and a timeline that fits neatly with the timeline to restore ROTC at Columbia.

          I am an Army veteran. What is it do you think Army officers, especially lieutenants and captains, have been doing since 9/11?

    • The Army wants smart leaders

      Another comment about the "submissive and unintellectual nature of the military": Columbia's most famous alumnus, Alexander Hamilton, was an Army officer before he was - or could be - an author of the Federalist Papers and all-around Founding Father.

      Today's Columbia ROTC graduates aspire to Columbia's Hamiltonian heritage of profound civil-military leadership, in and out of uniform. Hence, Columbia's student group for cadets and officer candidates is named the Hamilton Society. And that's with them forced to attend ROTC in the Bronx. If we can get ROTC back to Columbia, then we can build an ROTC program that fully restores and honors Columbia's Hamiltonian heritage.

    • Trans Student  

      Glad to know that I'm only relevant in queer theory classes. Guess it's time to either get a PhD in Gender Studies or end it all, seeing as my life will no longer be relevant after I graduate and leave this queer old place.

  2. very interesting  

    second affirmative
    1) recently repealed dadt 2) so then by not having rotc on campus columbia shows they don't support the military under the leadership of United States Goverment 3) not enough significant cases, repealed dadt 4) instead students become whores and drug dealers, as a military employee you are in a much more stable situation, financial and otherwise, patriotism.

    arguments in favor show how giving students the option of participating in rotc can benefit the community and the US

  3. Anonymous  

    You're making a very facile argument which simply doesn't follow. Not having ROTC at Columbia in no way paves the path for drug dealing and prostitution!

    What is the financial incentive for ROTC when Columbia is already need-blind???????

    • Anonymous  

      How Columbia defines need is VERY different from how most individual families would define need. I'm not sure how ROTC works, but don't they just pay for your college outright, regardless of need as determined by fafsa et al? Because that would be a HUGE help for many families.

  4. Anonymous  

    To whoever wrote this, I would just like to note that the "hiss[es] and yell[s]" only happened once, in response to a gentleman who likened ROTC cadets at Columbia having to take the subway to Fordham to black americans who were forced to sit at the back of the bus. Beyond that there were no cat calls or disruptions, and I just hope it is noticed that those that did occur were in response to a truly offensive and poorly thought comment.

    • Unacceptable  

      Just because you think it's a "truly offensive" and "poorly thought comment" [sic], doesn't mean your poor behavior is acceptable.

    • lol  

      so you don't like what you hear, and instead of trying to refute the man in a well-reasoned argument, you shout him down with your own ignorance! this is truly why you came to columbia.

    • i was there  

      there were cough-talks, lots of hisses, only one open yell

    • well

      With regard to the veteran who argued that telling students to go across town to another facility is discrimination, I thought the student who tried to rebut his argument did a particularly poor job. He said that the civil rights violations faced by the black community in the 1960s doesn't compare to a couple nasty looks. First off, the veteran wasn't only talking about nasty looks. Second of all, would nasty looks be alright if directed to a person because they were black? Discrimination is discrimination. Obviously it varies along a spectrum, but I doubt that those who argue against discrimination would want to face nasty looks every time they walk down College Walk, or that they would decide that's not real discrimination since it doesn't match up with fire-hoses. To sum up, the anti-ROTC side didn't address the veteran's argument, and the argument he made only proved the other point!!

      • The Army wants smart leaders

        Also, "military status", which applies to ROTC students, is a protected category in Columbia's non-discrimination policy. Just sayin'.

      • Too Lazy to go to a physical town hall  

        this (and presumably both comments you refer to) misses the primary difference between African-Americans and ROTC cadets: black people didn't choose to be black. ROTC kids choose to be ROTC. The blackness of a person is no reflection on their character, personality, thought process, etc. The choice to join ROTC tells you a lot about a person's character, personality, thought process, etc. Whether you judge the information you get positively or negatively is another question altogether. But this, to my mind, is the gulf that separates questions about a lifestyle choice from questions about an innate biological state (to borrow the terms of another debate).

        The counterargument of course is that some people choose ROTC as their only option for attending a school like Columbia (and I would argue that need-based financial aid does ameliorate that to a significant extent), but the point stands that entering ROTC reflects a choice (if nothing more than entering the military is less bad than missing out on Columbia), whereas skin color does not. I'm not saying that anyone should get dirty looks for walking down the street, but the ROTC thing is more akin to giving someone a dirty look because of their political views than because of their skin color. While neither is really okay, I think it is pretty clear that one is less bad than the other.

        While his arguments about transgendered students are offensive and inconsiderate at best, the military wants smart leaders guy/gal/person has some pretty darn good points about the supposed anti-intellectual nature of the military. I personally disagree with the notion that working in a hierarchy necessarily requires stupidity from those who aren't at the top of the food chain. Rather, it requires intellectual humility: the understanding that one's personal conclusion isn't the only conclusion, and that while individuals must operate according to the best well-considered conclusion they can come to, organizations as a whole have to pick from several conclusions, and it is entirely possible that a) the conclusion they pick and b) the right conclusion, is different than one's own.

        On a purely selfish note, I am definitely anti-ROTC-on-campus if it means that goddamn space reservations are going to be even more of a nightmare than they already are. jk... maybe.

        • dsagee

          the non-discrimination policy doesn't deal only with immutable physical attributes. religion, sexual orientation etc. are included. sure, you can use your logic to argue that it's worse to hate a black person than a Muslim, but that's not a very persuasive POV. the anti-rotc crowd is short-sighted to imagine that military students do not face discrimination at CU, and it is likely i'd wager that in today's day and age the average military student faces more discrimination than the anti-rotc crowd itself @ CU

          • Too Lazy to go to a physical town hall  

            This is now off-topic, but whatever. The question of whether or not you judge someone for their religion is really a question of judging the belief system. It's not that we don't think it's okay to judge people for their beliefs (that happens all the time and is generally sanctioned at Columbia, e.g., making fun of Tea Party-ers), it's that we don't think it's okay to judge certain kids of beliefs, such as religion. Whereas it is generally now agreed that it's not okay to judge a person for their skin color (or, for instance, sexual orientation) at all. The question, then, is a) what beliefs can we deduce from someone joining the ROTC, and b) are those beliefs in the category that is okay to judge (belief in intelligent design, Tea Party, Republicans in some circles, Vegans in some circles, etc.) or the category that is not okay to judge (most/all religious beliefs, Republicans in some circles, Vegans in some circles).

            But really I just wanted to buttress the point that the discrimination faced by blacks, particularly in the early and mid 20th century, is really fundamentally different in kind than the discrimination against ROTC students at Columbia. It feels like every time somebody claims they're being discriminated against, they immediately compare it to the Civil Rights Movement (probably because that is the only part of recent American history that has the cultural capital of "undeniably good/progress"), which is just silly, as that was a very particular set of circumstances which resulted from literally centuries of incredibly complex issues.

            To your point, I agree that ROTC students are certainly more discriminated against than anti-ROTC students at Columbia. I just wanted to draw a distinction between different kinds of discrimination, because I think that's important. I think that the question of whether or not ROTC belongs on campus is not a question of discrimination or not (at least not morally; whether or not something is technically implied by an official Columbia policy is a completely separate issue), but rather a question of whether or not the ideas implied by ROTC are something we SHOULD discriminate against, and as such discriminate against, yes, the students that participate therein (not by giving them dirty looks, 'cause that's just mean, but by denying them access to certain benefits, which is effectively what Columbia not recognizing ROTC does).

  5. Anonymous  

    I'm all for tolerance, but idiocy isn't worth hearing.

  6. You know

    what would be totally awesome, when Prezbo is gone he gets replaced by General Patraeus or Admiral Mullen. Cooler things have happened, but that would be ssssuuuwwweeeeettt

  7. Some thoughts  

    To the debaters:
    A transgender person has undergone surgery as well as extensive hormone treatment. The military discriminating against them is not (at least entirely) a statement of "gender assignment is wrong," it is an unfortunate parallel to the same discrimination that must be made against those who are not medically fit for service. So that is a rather frivolous argument for the opposed.
    Recruiting amongst low income areas is an act committed by anyone looking to have a service performed. Further, it is not right to say that because of the area being a low income one the potential student cannot hack it at CU. That would be a very bias statement as well as a false one.

    To the commenting:
    Columbia is need blind in acceptance, this does not mean they will foot the bill. Many other things come into play here. Military service is just another way to pay the bills.

  8. Transgenders

    Is a choice. Deal with the consequences.

  9. Anonymous  

    Bwog, you censor the most random comments. The comment from "The Army wants smart leaders" at 8:39 was completely inoffensive and unremarkable.

  10. With regards to the transgender point

    Transsexualism and Gender Identity Disorder are listed as mental diseases/disorders in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Do medical schools and the entire field of psychology and psychiatry, then, discriminate against transgender individuals?

    And isn't it our policymakers who decide which which "imperialistic military actions" our nation engages in? Should we then discourage Columbia alums from running for public office?

    And with regards to "imperialistic military actions," what about US deployments to Haiti after the recent earthquake or Indonesia after the 2004 Tsunami? In today's military, a Platoon Leader works to execute his mission with the greatest success and fewest coalition or civilian casualties. Isn't a Columbia alumnus the kind of person we want executing such complicated missions handed down from his chain of command (and eventually from the president)?

    Believe it or not, the military isn't full of white-bread bloodthirsty killers. It's a remarkable tool for social mobility, allowing people who certainly would not have otherwise had opportunity to attend a school like Columbia to do so. For all of its faults, it is one of the greatest levelers of the playing field in American society today.

    • Anonymous  

      the best thing we can do is encourage smart kids to grow up and change and organization that has questionable ends. I'd be the first to admit that I'm uncomfortable with an intensely militaristic mindset. But I am confident that any alum of Columbia, who has suffered through the Core, understands humanity well enough to not get lost in warrior mindset.

      Also, to the people arguing that the military has a poor track record of treatment of women, or gays, or anything negative at all. What of those problems isn't also true of the private sector, banking in specific? Just because the military is public, and therefore we have more control over it, doesn't mean that we should blame it for the same social ills that are common everywhere in our society.

    • The Army wants smart leaders

      "It’s a remarkable tool for social mobility, allowing people who certainly would not have otherwise had opportunity to attend a school like Columbia to do so. For all of its faults, it is one of the greatest levelers of the playing field in American society today."

      This is true in several ways. The harshest critics of social welfare I've known were black soldiers from poor backgrounds who were using the Army to free themselves of the cycle of state dependency and poverty. I believe that many leftists oppose the military precisely because it ameliorates the adversarial identity politics and zero-sum class warfare their politics require. The military provides real opportunities, if not a guaranteed avenue, of upward mobility.

      It's true that without the Army first, I couldn't have attended Columbia, but not all benefits of military service are so tangible. As a son of immigrants and a 'person of color', my view of myself as an American was profoundly affected by my military service. Although I was born in the US, and therefore a citizen, I grew up with an insecure sense of not being genuinely American. That changed during my military service. With my time in uniform, I took confident ownership of my country - I became spiritually American. I'm no longer impressed by someone whose bloodline traces back to the Mayflower; if he hasn't served our country as I have, then I'm one up on him. I understand that my transformative experience is not unique. A main driving force in the progressive movement for black American civil rights was the empowering experience of black veterans who served their country, earned their status as Americans, and thereby could no longer view themselves as second-class citizens.

    • And  

      homosexuality was classified as a disorder in the DSM until 1986, at which point it was removed. Similarly, the classification of "Gender Identity Disorder" is offensive and based on social stigma rather than science.

      End of story.

    • Anonymous

      by the way, I didn't bring up the transgender example to say that transgenderism really is a mental disease. Rather, it is a little bit hypocritical to call out the military for discriminating against transgender individuals when most other professions looked on as desirable for Columbia alumni (i.e. medicine) do the same.

  11. Anonymous

    Uh, what's the point in all of this? Don't we already have ROTC engagement via Fordham's program? Fordham already meets the demand for all NYC area colleges for ROTC.


  12. Anonymous  

    Homosexuality was listed as a disorder in the DSM until the 1980s.

  13. I admit  

    I was incorrect on the transgender part. I was wrongly using the definition of transsexual in its place.

    Not so much on the other things.

    • I admit  

      Replied to "better thoughts"

      • And  

        the next sentence: "The military discriminating against them is not (at least entirely) a statement of “gender assignment is wrong,” it is an unfortunate parallel to the same discrimination that must be made against those who are not medically fit for service." As you now realize what "transgender" actually means, you must surely realize how this argument is fallacious. The military does not see these people as medically unfit because of the surgery or hormones you originally claimed. If you would like, we can continue looking at your mistakes.

        For the record, I support ROTC on campus--I just think our side of the debate would be better off without your opinion...

        • Right,  

          was my recognition of that not clear? I thought it clear that with a fail premise I could not have a valid conclusion based upon that premise.
          When I said other things I was referring to the parts of my original post not involving my misuse of the word "transgender."

  14. Anonymous  

    *insert troll comment of choice here*

  15. ...  

    whatever. this is a bunch of bullshit.

    "we don't like the military!" vs. "we want the military here!"

    what about the real and important questions, like, how much will it cost? will the additional government grant funds (or lack thereof) have a net positive or net negative effect on total cost of attendance for those that do not participate? will this result in additional strain on limited space resources or would additional space be constructed? are there donors who would be willing to foot any bills associated with this? how many are truly interested in participating? if there is a net cost per student, is it within the neighborhood of other student groups of similar size? does the form of training that columbia provides mesh well with what the military is looking for? (does the military already have a vampire weekend and part of an animal collective? do they perhaps need a grizzly bear instead? do they have an internal wall street that is running low on douchebags? or an internal williamsburg that is in dire need of more pabst swilling fauxhemians?)

    • Alum

      Again, the ROTC has not provided any official statements or proposals that address these fundamental questions of implementation, so I would really encourage you come to the next forum to express these questions which only a few people even touched on at the last meeting. There are so many unknown variables about capacity, capability, and feasibility--Logistical questions that one would think the military (or those who have been or are currently in it who came to the forum) would have readily available.

      Only a few of the pro-ROTC or anti-ROTC speakers were able to provide reliable data to base arguments on. The arguments made were not on merits but on morals.

      In one instance, a former female Marine wanted to dispute the idea of a woman's likelihood of being raped in the military. The evidence she provided was that she herself never felt unsafe or heard of any of these instances. Putting aside her poor understanding of the validity of situational vs. dispositional evidence, my suggestion to her and to everyone who supports ROTC would be that they should not dispute these allegations made by the anti-ROTC side, but rather they should be outraged that the Pentagon has made up these statistics and numbers about sexual assault and violence against women in the military. If the Pentagon has been fraudulently misrepresenting these statistics that they have provided, and in fact very little rape and sexual violence does occur in the military, as the pro-ROTC side contends, then should be protesting in Washington, D.C.

      In another instance, a GS student claimed that since we allow blood drives to be held on campus, we should allow the ROTC as well. This is an invalid comparison. The Supreme Court has held that discrimination is constitutional if it serves a legitimate governmental policy objective. This is why Barnard College continues to be a women's college (along with other single-sex colleges), because they serve a legitimate policy objective of women's education and empowerment. This is why affirmative action has been upheld. The FDA ban, ostensibly and though poorly wrought, has a governmental policy objective on the grounds of public health. The military transgender ban on the other hand, not so much.

      I am also uncomfortable with the claims to expertise and authority that the pro-ROTC side has made. On the one hand, they claim to represent the military and its values, and on the other hand, they claim that the ROTC is not the military, or its not the government. They really cannot have it both ways. If the ROTC is not in fact the military, as they are claiming (possibly to distance the Pentagon-funded program from the Pentagon), then why is it important to say that you have served your country in this capacity, or you have friends who have served the country in this capacity? I understand if one says that they have been in the ROTC, or are currently in the ROTC, but don't say you know what you're saying because you're in the military in one sentence, and then in a following sentence say that the ROTC is not the military. It's not a political point, its a logical point.

      What the LGBT community is doing in challenging the return of the ROTC to Columbia is taking a core value of what the military firmly believes--that one should never leave their friends behind, and applying that belief to ensure that their transgender friends aren't abandoned.

      • alum in law school

        Dude, jumping the gun much? The sequence is offer by Columbia - negotiation - acceptance by the military (or not). We're still determining the offer by Columbia. If Columbia ROTC turns out to be unfeasible, Columbia and military officials will decide that together in the negotiation stage.

        The case law related to the military's transgender policies is sparse (no wonder: a lot fewer T than S and LGB in the world), but the existing case law has upheld the military's transgender policies. You do know that the courts traditionally view the military as an extraordinary and unique employer and therefore grant deference to the military's policies, right? The bar is set high for the courts to overrule military policies. A good example of what is required to meet that bar is the case against DADT. In comparison, the military's transgender policies are justifiable and do not rise to the level of DADT as a controversy.

        • Alum

          You are one to talk about jumping the gun--they wanted ROTC on campus even before DADT was repealed. Even before someone is invited to receive a grant or a fellowship, they are at the very least required to state their interest, or write a brief letter of inquiry. In this instance there's not even a memo. Or a tweet. Or a green or yellow light. Only political speeches at the highest levels about return ROTC to Columbia without the very beginnings or the seeds of an official proposal in place.

          The bar is high, but even the military must at the very least provide a legitimate governmental policy objective. In fact, the lower courts did rule on DADT before it reached Appeals or Supreme Court.
          The argument of unit cohesion--used first for DADT, and probably now for transgender discrimination, was shown to be without basis given examples of other militaries around the world. This negates your argument about the courts deferring to military policies and prerogatives. The justice system necessarily slowed the process of reaching higher levels because they were counting on congressional action, which is what just about everyone at those levels reportedly preferred when it comes to ruling against a military policy.

          I am curious as to exactly what your understanding is of the military's "justifiable" transgender policies. By what military objectives are they justified? Unit cohesion? Cuz we've just seen that the bar for explaining exactly what unit cohesion is, and backing that up with evidence (i.e. another country allowing gays in the military which subsequently destroyed unit cohesion as compared with other countries where it didn't).

          • Bravo!

            "was shown to be without basis given examples"
            "this negates your argument"

            Nice tone. Imperious and domineering, much?

          • Alum

            I'm not going to be baited into arguing my tone (we will basically have an online discussion about the proper way to have an online discussion).

            I will argue the facts though if the pro-ROTC side provides me with some. Conversely, I will argue the facts if the anti-side provides me with some that are directly related--not just things distally causal i.e. warfare, imperialism, etc.

            In other words, I will argue about the ROTC as it is and as it will be implemented (its material and efficient causes if I have the data).

            And finally lets be honest, if there's a party who is being imperious and domineering, its not the anonymous Bwog alum commenter. It's probably the multi-trillion dollar government program that provides for the defense of our country.

          • Alum

            Oh, and thank you for proving my point that if you don't have the facts on your side, you should then argue that the other side handles themselves in a manner with which you don't approve.

          • gay is not the same as transgender

            You may think gay and transgender are the same thing, but we're not. Don't lump us all together.

            DADT doesn't apply. Being gay in the military is not the same thing as being transgender in the military.

  16. Karim  

    Yes, because the military recruits primarily in lower-income areas, we shouldn't allow it in our Ivy League university. This is logic after all, dammit!

  17. Karim  

    I don't get the arbitrary dislikes to this comment. Who admits to disliking the truth?

  18. IMHO  

    People should have a right to serve, including people on this campus. Keeping the military because you don't personally approve of it (whether it's because you can dredge up gazillions of "facts" and "case law", or whether it's because you have some emotional edge) is a violation of their right to serve. Deconstructing anyone's arguments (like arguing that "dirty looks" is morally acceptable vis-a-vis "imperialistic domination") can be a pretty satisfying way of showing the world how smart you are, but it doesn't change the fact that people have a right to serve.

    • Alum

      What the argument is about is whether there ought to be a formal institutional relationship between the ROTC and Columbia University, beyond what is already done, like allowing them to have flag raising ceremonies and officer-commissioning cermonies, exercises, etc. To not allow people to serve would be like not allowing people to worship as Jewish, or Christian, or Musilm on campus. But the difference is, these faiths or their representatives are not asking to have courses be officially listed for credit in order to either convert, or become a priest. They are not asking for their representatives to become professors with the same rights as the other faculty at Columbia.

      No one is saying that no one has a right to serve--except actually the military, who have said previously that gays did not have a right to serve, and who continue to maintain that transgender Americans do not have this right either.

      Columbia students as evinced by the turnout at the forum, do serve in the military, and are not prevented by Columbia from doing so. Obviously, there are logistical challenges and distances to overcome, and they should be recognized and lauded for putting the effort in--in fact, they are, because they receive compensation from the ROTC for completing their program.

      At the same time, students who are working hard at student council or their student groups. Or pursuing internships and volunteer opportunities. They are tutoring high schoolers, feeding the homeless--these also are aspects of national service (serve.gov). In some cases, they can receive a loan deferment or an Americorps education grant for this type of service, but other than that, they aren't demanding academic credit the way ROTC supporters are asking. Why should one group of students receive preferential academic credit simply because it is related to the military--and not only that, because it is something that students don't have an equal opportunity to compete for.

      Students currently attending ROTC at Columbia must surely know that there are
      institutions that could adequately serve their academic and training needs--like VMI or West Point. Could some students attending ROTC weigh in on this? Why go to Columbia given the environment? It's not for the liberal arts, because West Point has been named Top Public Liberal Arts College

      • Sean

        ROTC does not require credit for courses. Neither the program at MIT nor the program at Princeton grants credit for their courses. We are not asking that Columbia grant credit for
        ROTC courses. We are simply asking it to sponsor the program.

      • Who Cares

        "At the same time, students who are working hard at student council or their student groups. Or pursuing internships and volunteer opportunities. They are tutoring high schoolers, feeding the homeless–these also are aspects of national service (serve.gov)."

        Are you really trying to equate internships and student council to serving in the military? ROTC is required so these students can become officers in the military, a career if they so wish. Internships and student council are nothing more than resume fillers to make seem more attractive in getting the job they want somewhere else. These have very little to do with national service. As for volunteering, while some people are honestly well intentioned, once again, people do it to make themselves look good on paper.

  19. USMC

    There are some valid arguments here, but one of them is that military people are dumb/not up to snuff with Columbia students slash Columbia students are "smart" people. When I was in the service I encountered both some of the most pudding-faced stupid people and also some of the brightest, quick-witted and intelligent people -- had a Lt. once who was a Harvard cum laude. Anyway, it's time for the argument to get turned away from the military and back onto the students who oppose them -- this alone by the ignoramus comments I've heard and read. Just because you attend CC or SEAS doesn't make you a genius, nor does it make you "smarter" than anyone else who didn't make it here or never cared to. What you don't realize is that we see you as freshmen, touring the campus with a parents wearing their Harvard hoodie, representing their alma mater. Do you think their Ivy connections don't have influence in your admission? Maybe not. We see your driver leaning on your Maybach, smoking and waiting for you to finish class. We see you in your Burberry, we know about your Spring Break trip to Paris and your family house in the Hamptons. Do you think there is a coincidence that all smart people are also wealthy or well off? You aren't that smart. You are privileged. Own it.

  20. USMC

    btw that Lt. Harvard cum laude was surprisingly dull

  21. Officer McGruff

    I have to admit that in my experience at Columbia I was always so much more interested in talking to a veteran than just another young student at the school. The merging of both Columbia's education and the military's education, training and experience seems to produce a very rare and unique individual as well as leader. The Marines seem to be at the top.

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