Brace for Impact! What’s Ahead for the NROTC Debate

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With the NROTC survey scheduled for the week of November 24th (the days before Thanksgiving), normally the events and editorials would already be flying back and forth. But with some sort of “election” last week, student groups are only just now coming around to the NROTC debate.

Leading opposition to the return of NROTC is a coalition of seven groups: Lucha, Chicano Caucus, CQA, EAAH, the Democrats, Proud Colors, and the Columbia Coalition Against the War (as well as the unrecognized SDS). The seven groups will be holding an event tonight in Lerner (which they have been advertising with a rather interesting poster, seen at right top), and plan to flyer campus through the survey.

Supporting NROTC’s return is a coalition of individual students, which, according to the group’s website, “includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Obama-voters, McCain-voters, veterans, students currently enrolled in Army ROTC at Fordham, students not affiliated with the military at all, gay students, and straight students.” The coalition includes several students who are also members of anti-NROTC groups. Like the anti-ROTC coalition, they will be postering, and in addition will be tabling until the survey finishes, but no events will be held.

Finally, the undergraduate councils plan to hold up to two forums about the issue, though dates are still to be announced. 

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  1. wtf  

    How the fuck has this issue lasted this long?

    Have the current war and patterns of state violence somehow slipped by everyone?

    Get fucking real people. There is no debate. This is fucked from EVERY angle.

  2. statistician  

    The magnitude of the selection bias in this "survey" makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spork.

  3. Please

    Are you serious? This debate has nothing to do with the current war. I will simply say that I am a liberal democrat and I see no reason why ROTC should not be allowed on campus. If you are going to allow Orthodox Jews and Catholics to have offices on campus and run out of Earl Hall, why not allow the military.

    Do pictures of a soldier on college walk really get you so bent out of shape? What are you afraid of exactly? This should really be a non-debate considering the number of liberal campuses across the country that allow the ROTC to operate within their bounds.

    • Armin Rosen  

      That isn't a picture of a soldier on College Walk--that's a picture of a cop surveying the destruction after the crackdown that ended the '68 protests.

      The linkage of '68 to the current ROTC debate is a provocative one. It could be an attempt to associate ROTC with the forces of reaction that broke up the '68 protests; at the minimum, it suggests that, for ROTC opponents, Don't Ask Don't Tell is really kinda beside the point.

    • this  

      argument conflating religion on campus with ROTC is patently fucking absurd, and I am tired of hearing it. It makes ZERO SENSE. How on earth are they in any way, shape or form similar? Unless these religions offices have an explicit policy that kicks gay people out of their faith, there is no connection, and no violation of University Policy here. The issue is about DADT, not an anti-military stance.

      Btw, this is a valid issue and the debate is legitimate because several Ivies also don't allow the ROTC to recruit on campus. Get your big head out of your ass.

      There's something pretty fucked up about you being forced to resign from your profession after putting your life on the line for it just because you are unashamed of your sexual orientation.

      I'm straight but I hate that the military is no longer a symbol of progressiveness and tolerance that it used to be.

      • Religion  

        "Unless these religions offices have an explicit policy that kicks gay people out of their faith" the Bible? Surely Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't any worse than Romans 1:29-32. After all: Don't Ask, Don't Tell, while prejudice and despicable, doesn't claim, as the Bible does, that homosexuals "deserve to die".

        • Nonsense  

          The Bible also mentions polygamy.

          I am a non-Christian and the Religious offices at Columbia have not turned me away from their events, and if anything, have encouraged me to join them. There is no connection between religious offices at Columbia and ROTC.

          Cease this retarded analogy, it only makes the legitimate pro-ROTC point of view sound idiotic.

    • mmmm  

      Thank you.

      Your argument is basically the only rational thing I've heard all day.

      both sides really need to take a step back here.

  4. policeman = soldier?  

    That poster doesn't even have a soldier on it! That's a New York police office from 1968. Seems like a fear-mongering tactic to me...

  5. confused  

    Why is an event of speakers who are all against ROTC called "Voices on ROTC." Don't they mean "Voices against ROTC"? I haven't made-up my mind on this particular issue yet, but this event seems really skewed.

  6. not confused  

    @please: please don't compare military recruitment to offices for Orthodox Jews and Catholics - their goals are slightly different

    But while we're making these comparisons, why not go further? Why not give space on campus for foreign military recruiters (for our international students)? How about circus recruiters? What are we scared of - clowns?

    Clearly, nobody's scared, but we shouldn't allow any of these groups because they simply have no place at an academic institution -just like NROTC

  7. why  

    Why does everyone always call out the Catholics every time this DADT debate comes up? Is it because Protestants are so accepting of gays?

  8. To #15  

    Go to a dozen Catholic churches in America, tell them you're gay and want to convert, and see how welcoming they are to you. Chances are you are going to be excluded from one or more of them, albeit perhaps in a less obvious manner. Don't ask don't tell is a bad policy, I think we can all agree on that, but is it any worse than tons of the beliefs held by groups not just with offices on campus but who are allowed to table on college walk? Highly debatable. And if you want to change the don't ask don't tell policy, as i'm sure 99% of people on campus do, the best way to do that is by joining the military and changing the institutional culture from within, not voting "no" on a referendum at Columbia.

  9. ...  

    this whole rotc debate really bores me.

    it's no secret that rotc was asked to leave columbia in 1968 and anyone with the resume to get in here has the goods to get in at one of many fantastic schools which did not ban rotc.

    with that in mind, one has to ask the question "how many students would actually enroll?" or "is the military interested in investing in rotc at columbia anyway?" i suspect that answers are not many and not really.

    ultimately, i think this all comes down to the pro-rotc folks looking to pad their resumes with the achievement of bringing "reform" to columbia.

  10. ...

    The US military is an employer, not a religion. Columbia does not allow employers which categorically discriminate against gays and lesbians to recruit on campus. This has nothing to do with 1968, and those who use 1968 whether for or against ROTC on campus are perpetuating a myth.

    Columbia is perfectly justified in barring ROTC from campus until gays and lesbians are permitted to serve openly in the armed forces (which will hopefully be soon). Don't forget the reason this ban exists at Columbia.

  11. Ok but...  

    The Mormons on college walk are "recruiting" you into their religion, which also discriminates against gays and lesbians. I think an issue like this shouldn't come down to a distinction that makes more sense on paper than it does in reality.

    • ...

      fine, but that's an issue of religious freedom, which Columbia is obligated to respect. The university ought to allow its students and affiliates to practice the religions that they choose, which is why they don't ban Mormons or any other religion from operating on campus. But again, the military is not a religion, and is not guaranteed the same sort of impunity to pursue whatever policies it wants.

      There's also an issue of intent. The LDS Church does not see itself as discriminatory, and does not categorically exclude gays and lesbians from its activities. The military does. Prosteletyzing by religious groups is an issue of religious freedom, while recruitment by the DOD is not. This is not just a semantic difference.

  12. Pink Elephant

    I think you guys are forgetting that last week this country elected a president who pledged to repeal DADT. DADT is not the issue here at all - it is just being used as a front by people who hate the military that protects their freedom do silly things like protest military recruitment.

  13. De jure vs. de facto  

    It seems that most people citing the DADT policy as a reason against ROTC on campus are focusing on the de jure implications rather than the de facto culture.

    The analogy to religious groups on campus (or ethnic, etc.) is really only meaningful if we consider the de facto cultures of organizations.

    So if DADT is dismantled, terrific. I support that. But does the military then still have homophobic tendencies? Sure. Do some clubs on campus (again, religious, non-religious ethnic, non-religious non-ethnic) have homophobic cultures? Do some teams and coaches on campus use homophobic language? Do some old boyyish funds and law firms that hire on campus push heteronormativity? You better believe it.

    So is DADT the main issue? For many? No. For some, yes. But for those "some," should it be? No. If you're interested in really changing the military, get involved and be the change.

    Ashwin Madia was an NYU Law grad who joined the Marines and successfully defended a gay Marine who was unfairly treated under the DADT policy. He did more to help effect change than any activist at Columbia.

  14. asf  

    as someone who is catholic and gay, I'll have to disagree with you here. The emphasis is being welcoming to everyone- as their recently heralded slogan says "Catholics can always come home".

    Churches aren't all living in the 50's, people. It seems like people like to think of them in this way only because it makes them easier to argue against.

  15. pico  

    I think if we're honest here, the real reason is that most of us here just aren't comfortable with the military.

    ROTC represents conformity allegiance to superiors rather than to yourself. And really, conformity is antithetical to the ideals of academia: rational thought and independence.

    The Don't ask Don't tell policy is just the most popular argument that has been supported for a long time. But it isn't a strong argument, or at least we have some double standards. The person that suggested religious groups not be allowed on campus because of don't ask don't tell is probably right, if we were to really adhere to the ida. If you are truly honest and extremely open about your homosexuality, the military won't want to have anything to do with you, and neither will most traditional Christian, Jewish, or Muslim groups.

  16. LiveBlog Please  

    Please LiveBlog the forums, Bwog! I can't make it and I'd love to hear what the groups say (and I'm sure I'm not alone!)

  17. wrong  

    In the 60's, the issue was about antipathy to the military. Since then, there have been several senate resolutions voting it down because of the discriminatory DADT policy.

    Again, what exactly would a "ban" on religion at Columbia entail? It has nothing to do with the ROTC issue, because religious organizations at Columbia do not seek to employ people, nor do they exclude people of other faiths from worship at their Church, nor at their events. They are not recruiting at Columbia. You can take a class on Hinduism or Mormonism even if you belong to another religion or are gay. While you cannot become a Catholic minister if you are gay, that is NOT what Religious organizations are looking to do at Columbia. That seems to suggest that every religious group at Columbia is affiliated with and is bound by the creed and policy of a discriminatory mother-church. That is simply not the case; religious groups and offices at Columbia are independent and sovereign, and are free to interpret their texts the way they choose. Virtually all choose to be inclusive, and certainly do not have an explicit policy excluding people of a certain background.

    ROTC in recruiting for the military IS trying to get you to join a larger organization as an employee, but only if you are not openly gay. That's an explicit policy that all ROTC recruiters are bound by.

    And Bwog, I'm tired of you censoring comments that are not at all racist or questionable. I read #12 and even though those two were referenced by name, it was YOU who broke the news that the CCSC VP Policy had essentially kicked the Senator who instigated the Referendum out of the discussion. Most of what was said seemed to corroborate news that had already been broken or was being spoken about. You should really re-evaluate your criteria for censorship and unmask comments that you only happen to disagree with.

  18. Agreed...sort of.  

    This is really the heart of the matter.

    If Obama were to strike down DADT as his first act come Jan 2009 we would still be having this argument with a different proxy argument representing some people's discomfort with the military.

    However the notion that because the military represents conformity and allegiance to superiors rather than oneself, and is thus not fit to have a presence at an academic institution is just stupid. Using that logic we should bar all corporations from recruiting at Columbia because they represent conformity and allegience to shareholders/board of directors rather than the self. Not everyone wants to live in the Ivory Tower for the rest of their lives.

    THe DADT argument is valid, even if it just represents anti-military sentiment. However I'd hope military recruiters would be invited back to campus as soon as DADT is repealed.

  19. I can't believe  

    we ever even kicked ROTC off campus. It's absurd. Yes, let the unwashed masses fight our wars for us so we can stay in our ivory tower sipping Starbucks lattes and complaining about Bush. All those who say that we shouldn't have ROTC on campus are elitist who view the lives of Columbia students as more important than anyone else's.

    As a gay person, I'm completely opposed to DADT (obviously). But so are most people in the military; unfortunately it's up to Congress, not the military, to overturn it. So we should really be protesting in DC is DADT is what we're really angry about. Keeping ROTC off our campus will not change the policy, but just make Columbia look elitist, self-righteous and irrational.

    • Not at all  

      There are Columbia students currently enrolled with the ROTC at Fordham, etc. If students want to serve in the military, it is quite possible -- unless they're gay, of course. Keeping ROTC off campus isn't irrational at all, and not just because of its homophobic policy. No employer "has the right" to operate on Columbia's campus, since we are a private academic institution. If an employer's practices are not compatible with institutional goals and values, we do not have an obligation to let them onto our campus. It's quite rational.

  20. does the fact  

    that you can join the ROTC at almost every other college in the country make any difference at all? I mean, Columbia isn't the only school in the world (no matter what so many people here want to think about their own precious institution) that cares about equality and about fighting disiscrimination, yet we seem to be one of the few that actually lets the self righteous-ness of student organizations dictate the actions and choices of all of our students.

    here are some other schools (some of them are even damn good) that seem to have things on the right track- allowing ROTC AND promoting equality and preventing discrimination:

    Smith (most liberal place I've ever been)
    Berkeley (California)

    Don't we sound a little bit like the CRAZY ones here?

    • Nope  

      Harvard and Brown don't allow ROTC on campus. Yale also doesn't allow ROTC but sort of supports it.

      So no, we don't sound a little bit crazy. Nice with the blatant cherry-picking.

      Here is the link to Dartmouths ROTC website:

      I hope you realize that this is actually a program that would be offered to some students but exclude those who identify themselves as gay. Such students would be denied, on the basis that they are gay, "classroom instruction, physical fitness training, and leadership laboratories where cadets are challenged to lead their peers in a combat environment."

      • this really  

        just sounds like a complaint because you

        a. aren't physically fit

        b. as much of a campus leader as you'd like to be

        c. jealous/dismissive to those whose mertis may stand somewhere outstand that clasroom

    • Not at all  

      We aren't even crazy in the sense of "minority of one". Harvard has a similar policy, as does UMaryland Baltimore Country, and others that I won't look up. Many schools who allow ROTC on campus simply can't afford to lose the federal funding incentives that go with it. Any organization that actively discriminates against minorities will not be recognized by the university, so why should the ROTC be an exception?

  21. senate  

    I feel that this whole referendum is a waste of time. It will be knocked out by the senate anyway.

  22. pish posh  

    I'm SO sure Mr. Joe Sixpack contributes as much to technological advance as Average Columbia Student, which is why their lives should be treated SO equal.

    We came to Columbia because of our intelligence. I'll allow the masses fight our wars because they're the ones stupid enough to lay down their lives on a war without reason.

    It'd be a shame for somebody on ROTC scholarship to fight in a war they believe is irrational and against their persona beliefs, as they're obliged to do if the scholarship is paid.

    • whoa really?  

      you are sad.

    • Joe Sixpack

      Kid, you are Average Columbia Student, in all your mediocre wannabe-intellectual glory. Your existence is justified by the full tuition you pay. Keeps people employed, y'know?

      I served two tours in OIF, and did so packing dog-eared copies of everything you've read in Lit Hum, CC and more besides. The men I served with have more honor and self-worth in one finger than you will ever have.

      • Yessir  

        Because there is no honor in community service and public service, only in military service.

        • i believe  

          that poster was referring to the despicable sentiment of post #40, and had nothing to do with community & public service.

          to wit: "We came to Columbia because of our intelligence. I'll allow the masses fight our wars because they're the ones stupid enough to lay down their lives on a war without reason."

  23. Re-posting #12  

    In the interest of free speech and another perspective on the argument, I am reposting what I recall was the gist of what #12 said, which was addressed as a response to #1. Everything beyond this point is a paraphrasing of what I recall he/she said.

    The Anti-Rotc groups were also thinking about evaluating the transparency of the Councils as part of this initiative, and it would be interesting to see where they go with that.

    This is interesting because this whole debate resurfaced out of the volition of one SEAS senator, who was not approached about this issue by students, but rather introduced it as part of his own agenda and built a coalition of supporters around it. He claimed it is a SEAS issue because the Navy ROTC offers jobs to engineering students, even though Provost Brinkley said this is unlikely to occur. Thus, the senator was not responding to the demands and needs of his constituents, and this was not part of his election platform; rather that he is acting on a personal agenda. He initially began the discussion with a few individuals and students who supported his agenda and then chose who else to include or exclude from the converation.

    Then, the CCSC VP of policy stepped in and felt that his jurisdiction was being trampled on. However, rather then make the process more fair, he chose to give himself authority on which groups to include and exclude, until he was forced to stop as a result of demonstration by groups and others.

    Thus, it will be interesting to see what this anti-NROTC group does in opposition to the Councils.

  24. Well...  

    If people have an issue with DADT, take it up with Congress - it's discriminatory, but it's NOT THE MILITARY'S POLICY! You want to change the policy? How about we get more open-minded, liberal people in uniform who can later speak in favor of a better policy with the benefit of their military experience behind them! Having the military on campus won't militarize Columbia, it will liberalize the military, and that can't possibly be a bad thing. I say this as someone who despite the ROTC ban will probably serve in the military after graduation, who strongly disagrees with Don't Ask Don't Tell, and who believes that military service is one of many ways to serve the nation. Ingrained anti-military sentiment here is strong, and tying the ROTC ban to 1968 is a disingenuous ploy to solidify resistance. You see that huge statue on the Steps? It's Athena, Goddess of War and Wisdom. Perhaps we need more of the latter before we employ the former - putting Columbia-educated personnel in the military might be a good start. I pose the question thus: if DADT were repealed tomorrow, would there still be resistance to ROTC?

    • Nope  

      There may not be moral support for ROTC, but there certainly would be legal support. Since there is no violation of University policy, there will be no legal impediment to the return of ROTC on campus. Hence, PrezBo and the many faculty members on the senate will have no choice but to allow ROTC back on campus, just as they would allow other Employers back on campus.

      • Alum08

        Don't forget that students who sit on the USenate would have involvement on the final decision. This would make it more interesting, since the student senators make about 25% of the entire USenate body; while many of them will vote one way because its respective school overall leans on that side, some senators may break ranks and vote for what he/she thinks is right and not his/her school thinks. While I don't know which student Senators are like that, we shall see what ends up happening..

  25. ...  

    i don't see why the '60s justification (that it is impossible to "liberalize the military" and that there is a fundamental contradiction between promoting a global education and supporting an institution which upholds global u.s. hegemony) has become so unfashionable.
    Supporting DADT is bad, but supporting wars of aggression is perhaps worse.

    • Because....  

      Serving in the military isn't supporting wars of aggression - first of all, many in the military DO NOT support the war, but are bound to do the will of the nation as relayed by the Congress and the President. The State Department, large corporations, etc. all help "uphold US global hegemony" - they just do it with different means. Joining the military isn't the same as supporting wars of aggression. I do admire your honesty in admitting that you just don't like the military - I think that's how the debate should be framed, because I think that's the position that underlies this ROTC question.

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