ROTC Update and Roundup

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Tonight from 8 PM to 10 PM in 417 IAB, the Altschul Auditorium, will be the last of the University Senate Task Force on Military Engagement’s public hearings. The hearings will be open to the media.

Tomorrow night, the Task Force’s survey is scheduled to end at 11:59 PM. We encourage you to have your say! The survey is quite nuanced and allows you the option to express uncertainty or divided views, so it is not simply a matter of being “for” or “against” ROTC.

Looking back:

  • We’ve covered the first and second hearings.
  • The second batch of e-mailed responses has been posted and the first two hearings have written and audio transcripts.
  • At the second one there was some controversy regarding remarks and out-of-turn audience responses.
  • There has been an explosive response across national media: The story has made the NYPost, Fox News, and the Daily Mail in England, as well as countless blogs. A reporter from the Post was the only non-campus journalist present at the hearing.
  • There have been strong reactions to the story’s publicity. Another vet enrolled in GS advises calm on HuffPo, the task force’s process is criticized at the NY Daily News, and Columbia is called “disgraceful” in a NYPost OpEd.
  • The Senate issued a statement in response. They are currently not talking to press outside of the university.
  • On Saturday, February 19th, some faculty, led by Professor Allan Silver, released a statement of support.
  • The Spec published a full-page spread of opinion pieces for and against the ROTC.
  • The Editorial Board of the Spec also came out in favor of a return.

Looking forward:

Senator Ron Mazor, student co-chair of the task force, spoke to Bwog yesterday, and emphasized that the catcalling in question was not at all indicative of the task force’s proceedings over the past weeks. Speaking particularly of Tuesday’s townhall, he said “that ROTC hearing was very civil, very thoughtful, and very respectful for the most part. What happened to Mr. Maschek was an outlier over the evening… it happened towards the waning hours of the event and did not repeat itself.” This has been echoed by all those in attendance at the hearing. He notes a “bit of a spike” in website and survey traffic, but a significant number of requests for interviews from the national media—all of which have been refused. This is evidence of the markedly differing reactions between those on-campus and commenters across national media. The senator also explained that he had spoken at length with Provost Steele, who is delivering opening remarks at tonight’s hearing, about the publicity the final hearing is expected to attract. He emphasized that the Senate is the body which is responsible for the issue of ROTC at a university-wide level: “We’re the one’s who are handling the issue in an immediate sense. Public Affairs, the university at large—we are a body of the university, but they are not the ones who have been involved in the issue.” The task force’s final report is due March 4th.



  1. Viewer  

    Fox News is full of crap.

  2. wow  

    spec. great journalism.

  3. An interesting poll  

    ...would be a poll indicating how many people have changed their views on ROTC because of an actual debate. I suspect none.

  4. Anonymous  

    Does anyone else think it's strange how the university is rushing this decision without distributing much solid information about what ROTC's return to campus would mean? How are we all expected to make informed decisions without specifics?

  5. Anonymous  

    All of these articles fail to mention that by not allowing transgender students into ROTC it they are still in conflict with Columbia's non-discrimination policy. A standard to which ALL groups on campus are supposed to be in compliance with. The DADT repeal is a step in the right direction but it does not cover everything.

    No one was attacking Anthony for his service, I think everyone can agree that he is a hero. Most of the comments were directed at the Military as an institution not the troops, another point that they failed to indicate. These articles make headlines though, but I didn't have any respect for the Daily News or Post anyway. I hope to see better journalist integrity in future reporting because there were a lot of very valid and articulate arguments presented. There were two debates taking place, military policy and whether or not ROTC has a place at Columbia, whether or not you agree with the military.

    • The Millitary

      is following the rule under the American Psychiatric Association, which has it still labeled as a disorder. Perhaps you should get that changed first?

    • From 2/20 e-mails

      I think the milvets have been very convincing in the ROTC debate, but I thought ROTC violated the non-discrimination policy, too. Now I'm not sure after reading this in the 2/20 task force e-mails:

      Question: Can ROTC, under current law, co-exist on campus with Columbia's non-discrimination policy, as currently written?

      My answer: Yes.

      Using the non-discrimination policy as the reason for excluding a critical part of society from the University is a dangerous interpretation of the policy. In principle, the non-discrimination policy is meant to promote organic diversity and constructive engagement on campus, and protect inclusion at Columbia, which rightfully includes ROTC along with other critical relationships that may be cast as discriminatory in some aspect, such as a women's college and religions. Advancing the university's higher pedagogical and public service missions through real diversity, engagement, and inclusion will necessitate, at times, some sensitive trade-offs; the non-discrimination policy addresses the friction that may result. Columbia's non-discrimination policy becomes grossly corrupted when it is misused as a tool of exclusion, as has happened with ROTC at Columbia.

      Barnard's admissions policy is the clearest example that, when justified by the greater good, lawful accomodations with the non-discrimination policy are made for existing University associations. I believe other similar examples at Columbia can be found. The question is not whether lawful accomodations can be made with the non-discrimination policy, because they already are. The proper question is whether a lawful accomodation is justified for the greater good.

      Just as importantly, it does not appear from a plain reading of Columbia's non-discrimination policy that hosting ROTC on campus, under current law, would in fact violate Columbia's non-discrimination policy.


      From opening paragraph: Columbia University is committed to providing a learning environment free from unlawful discrimination and harassment . . . Consistent with this commitment and with applicable laws, it is the policy of the University not to tolerate unlawful discrimination . . .

      Key phrasing is "unlawful discrimination". Whatever is one's personal opinion of it, military personnel policy is lawful, not unlawful.

      From second paragraph: Columbia University does not discriminate against any person in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other University-administered programs . . .

      Key phrasing is "its [Columbia's] ... policies". Military personnel policy is set by the federal government and is not Columbia's policy. Military personnel policy is limited to a defined jurisdiction. A distinction can be made between the military's commissioning requirements and the academic program on campus. In order to serve its wider pedagogical function, much of the ROTC program normally is open to the general student body. Other universities that host ROTC with non-discrimination policies similar to Columbia's policy are able to distinguish between university policy and federal policy. President Bollinger, as the former provost of Dartmouth AROTC and former president of UMichigan AROTC, AFROTC, and NROTC, is well-suited to manage the ROTC relationship on campus.

      From Definitions: Discrimination is defined as: • treating members of a protected class less favorably because of their membership in that class; or • having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on protected class members.

      Lawful accomodations, such as Barnard's admissions policy, do not infringe the protection of a legally "protected class". As a practical matter, ROTC enhances the course offerings for Columbia students, while the addition of ROTC on campus would not subtract nor replace anything that currently exists for students. Nor would ROTC require Columbia to rewrite the non-discrimination policy. "Military status" enumerated as a legally protected class in Columbia's non-discrimination policy also ensures that members of ROTC would be protected and raises the question of the University's responsibility to Columbia's ROTC students.

      From Definitions: Discriminatory Harassment - Discriminatory harassment is defined as substantially interfering with an individual's educational experience by subjecting him or her to severe or threatening conduct or to repeated humiliating or abusive conduct, based on his or her membership in a protected class.

      ROTC and its manifestations on campus (office, classes, training, etc.) would not be a separate zone on campus that allows discriminatory harassment. ROTC cadre and participating students would be held to the same standards of behavior as all Columbians. Columbia students should feel as safe in ROTC offices as anywhere else on campus.

    • Well

      Just because someone served in the military doesn't necessarily make them a hero.

  6. USMC

    We're here . . . with beer . . . we're fabulous . . . don't mess with us

  7. USMC

    We're here . . . with beer . . . get used to it

  8. Did anyone notice...  

    Did anyone else notice the very slanted way the survey was written. There was only one question that got at the root opposition to ROTC on campus and there were several slanted toward the perceived benefits that those for ROTC are arguing.

    I don't disagree with some of the benefits of bringing ROTC to campus I just feel that the institutionalized discrimination of the organization is not something that should be supported by the University on campus. What that translates to on the survey is support of all the pro-ROTC points while still opposing the practice. Even my anti- stance can be flipped using the survey they designed.

  9. USMC

    The entire trans-gender argument is moot. Y'all need to give it up. The military doesn't even let in people with flat feet, let alone those who have significant medical needs -- which those who have elected to do this surgery have -- especially with hormone medication. You're correct; just because someone is a veteran doesn't make him or her a hero. Yet, it does for a larger part, mean that this person had to perform with extreme athleticism. Some of us may be working on a pot belly or be missing a limb, but we can outrun, outlast and outshine most of the wet rags I see in my classrooms for the past three years here. The military isn't a job, it's a lifestyle. It's hard on the body, hard on the mind and tough on the soul. Are there even any trans-gender people arguing this here, or are you just a bunch of sorry @$$35 hating veterans for hates sake? Y'all ran out of causes to bake cookies for in Lerner? And if there are any of you trans-gendered people out there fighting against us -- would you really have the b@115 to join? -- not literally, of course. We're here . . . get used to it.

  10. ...  

    a big question in my mind is: if the university were to bring rotc back, would it be treated with respect or would it be treated like gs? cos if it's the latter, i'd argue that perhaps rotc shouldn't return out of respect for the individuals that would actually be involved as they'd be better off going to schools where they wouldn't have to suffer the aggravation involved in participating in a program where harbored bias is codified into university policy.

  11. The Real Issue  

    For me, the real issue is ROTC scholarship fund. I know many people in other school that have joined ROTC because the organization gives huge scholarships. Columbia is an expensive school that is financial aid based and I think many students would feel obligated to join in order to shield themselves from huge student loans. I know I would be temped to join if I could get a scholarship that would cover the amount my financial aid does not. BUT that is not correct. The ROTC is a great program, but I really worry if students would join for the scholarship and then they would be obligated to serve after they graduate. It almost seems like a trap for financial aid students.

  12. Columbia  

    Needs ROTC, and Columbia has a lot to give to ROTC as well. I was too busy to make any of the meetings, but I really hope we can once again be at peace with a huge section of our society, and the protectors of our freedom.

    • CC 11

      See, the funny thing about militaries around the world is that most of them don't "protect freedoms;" they serve to defend the state. The Supreme Court actually "protects our freedoms" in our system. At best, the military in the U.S. defends the state as a whole, regardless of how free or not free we are. I didn't see the U.S. military fighting for black slaves freedoms from 1776 through 1860 or so. If you're going to advocate for something, try to use real arguments instead of appealing to cheap, sound-bitey patriotic sentiments. Some of us like to pretend that CU students are still capable of reasoned debate of actual ideas and the arguments supporting them.

      • Anonymous  

        Was the Supreme Court doing a lot for the freedom of black slaves before the Civil War? I'm not so sure about that.

        Again, this seems to be an example of blaming the military for issues that are in fact much larger than the military. The military does not set U.S. foreign policy. Similarly, the military does not decide what is a psychological disorder; there is a fight going on right now in the medical community about whether what is termed "gender identity disorder," which is akin to transgenderism, ought to be understood as a medical disorder or not.

  13. CC 11

    Wow, if you really are USMC, you've just made a lot of people think pretty poorly of not only you yourself, but the Corp as a group with its own distinctive culture, a culture that appears to be pretty fucked-up, petty, and small-minded. Guess that's while all you asshats have to get into CU through GS.

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