If the fliers, op-ed pieces, and general media frothing about ROTC on campus haven’t swayed your opinion in time for the CCSC-produced survey next Monday, on Wednesday night a moderated panel pitted pro against con ROTC factions in Sulzberger Parlor. (Not the same event in the flier pictured at right, but we couldn’t get a snapshot of the debaters.) Each side laid out its main talking-points without introducing too many new facets, and while the debaters were impassioned, all were well-behaved.
On the anti-ROTC side of table, Aries de La Cruz, GS’09, of the Columbia Queer Alliance, Ira Stup, JTS’10, of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, Rahel Aima, CC’10, of Students for a Democratic Society and the Columbia Coalition Against the War, and Lucha’s Rudi Batzell, CC’09, explained that the debate was “plain and simple.” Their side does not support the “homophobic, racist, and sexist” institution of the military, they said, although Stup mentioned repeatedly that Columbia students are free to participate in ROTC programs at other schools–albeit not NROTC, the Naval division.
On the pro-ROTC side, self-identified gay veterans Scott Stewart, GS, and Justin Johnson, SIPA; Kelley Victor-Gaspar, CC’09, who will be commissioned as a Marine officer in May; and Kate O’Gorman, BC’10, a member of the College Democrats executive board although she was merely representing herself, all agreed that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a discriminatory policy. They support ROTC on campus, they said, for various reasons: It will encourage progressive and pro-gay officers, it will provide students with more scholarship opportunities, and it will improve the “diversity of thought” at Columbia. (more…)