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Breaking: Faculty Members in Support of ROTC

Update (02/20): the changes in this post reflect amendments made by Professor Silver and communicated to Bwog this morning

Bwog just received the following e-mail:

Professor Allan Silver asked that this faculty-signed statement in support of ROTC at Columbia be distributed:
Prof Silver said signatories were limited to full professors, faculty members with full-time appointments, though other professors have expressed support as well. If you have any questions about the statement, please contact Professor Allan Silver directly at .

The statement declares:

The affirmative case for an ROTC program at Columbia has been crowded out by debate over legislation prohibiting military service by open homosexuals. The repeal of that legislation makes it possible to clearly state that case, which can be briefly summarized:

  • It is damaging to democratic ideals of equality that graduates of highly selective, private universities are so underrepresented in the nation’s officer corps.
  • That the officer corps is drawn disproportionately from non-urban settings and other regions of the nation creates an imbalance that benefits neither American society nor its military.
  • At Columbia, military service should be recognized as a form of public service as is service in civil society.
  • Our students’ prevailing experience is of great personal distance from military service, limiting preparation for citizenship.
  • Reciprocally, military leaders are often uncomprehending of the values for which Columbia and its peer institutions stand. A civil-military gap caused by mutual incomprehension is undesirable.
  • Diversity in the student body including students preparing for military service would help alleviate this situation.
  • The university should not put obstacles in the way of students who wish to serve as commissioned officers and, in so doing, help finance their educations.
  • These propositions are independent of judgments as individual citizens of policies involving the armed forces, and about which the university is institutionally neutral

Faculty signing this statement may not agree fully with all its features but all agree with the following:
Provided that ROTC is subject to the same academic procedures as govern other programs, we support the establishment of an ROTC program

Some notable faculty signatures include Among faculty signatories are: Richard K. Betts, Douglas Chalmers, Robert L. Jervis, Kimberly Martin, and Andrew J. Nathan from the Political Science department, Jagdish Bhagwati and Robert E. Findlay from the Economics department, Columbia and Barnard historians Kenneth T. Jackson and Robert McCaughey, and Mark Lilla (Humanities), Robert E. Pollack (Biological Sciences), and Allan Silver (Sociology).

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  • You can find more says:

    @You can find more Faculty in support here:

  • this proves what? says:

    @this proves what? there’s plenty of faculty against ROTC coming back. This calls for a counter-statement.

    1. Please just make sure says:

      @Please just make sure That your “counter-statement” isn’t just the Department of Anthropology.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous what does everyone at columbia have against anthropology?! seriously, wtf

        1. Crotchety old PhD says:

          @Crotchety old PhD I’ve been here at Columbia since 2002 in one form or another, and the anthropology department is notorious for their fringe views that make a mockery out of liberalism and free inquiry. They are intellectual fascists: disagree with them, and they will condemn you to hell and back.

          This started ages ago. Nick “Million Mogadishus” de Genova was an anthro. I also went to both hearings so far to listen, and by far, the most uncivil, the most “out there”, and frankly the most uncivil comments were from the PhD students associated with the anthropology department. What made it more disturbing was that there were senior/tenured members of the anthropology faculty there, nodding in approval, and egging on their students. How disgusting.

          1. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous Well I was there too, and the anthro students were sharp but they were certainly not rude. What is this bullshit? Apparently now its “uncivil” to speak of war and violence per say. To say anything that might discomfit the vast mass of on-the-fence liberals is “rude”. None of the anthro students attacked anyone personally, so exactly how were they uncivil? Please do enlighten us…

          2. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous You obviously weren’t there, if you had been you would have seen the entire anthro dept behaving like spoiled children. They made a mockery of the proceedings, all the while having been goaded by their professors. It was amusing to watch the smug head nodding by the anthro faculty, it made me wonder if their students’ belligerence was exaggerated. Grandstanding to gain favor with one’s favorite professor?

            Notice no one is complaining about the behavior of the LGBT students and their supporters or the Veterans. Maybe its because they’re civilized, ironic the anthro students tend to be the least…

          3. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous Lets see: from what I remember two anthro students spoke. They questioned the neutrality of the proceedings because of Moody Adam’s speech, and they said that the military and the university were incompatible as institutions, and something about the military being engaged in unpopular wars, democracy requires a separation of civilian and the military or something to that effect. They said they had nothing against military personnel, etc etc. You may not agree with their characterization of American foreign policy, which is fine, but how is this “uncivil”?

            How does this make a mockery of the proceedings? Maybe the reason no one is complaining about the LGBT students’ behavior is because a non-discrimination agenda doesn’t challenge or discomfit anyone’s assumptions about the military, war or violence, whereas a fundamental critique of the military does.

            And its interesting that no one mentions the flag-waving, fist-thumping calls on “the american military has always been there for us”, “there are people out there trying to kill you,” “these people hate america and hate you”, “you are safe because tough men are willing to do tough things to bad people.” How interesting that none of these statements qualify as “rude” or “uncivilized” because of course they are incredibly mature argumentation. Which makes me wonder how “civilized” is defined. “Civilized” seems to mean: don’t call anyone out on their liberal presumptions…

          4. Dear Bwog says:

            @Dear Bwog I didn’t once mention anyone’s political philosophies or the substance of their commentary, as you clearly have. You don’t see how insulting their fellow students makes a mockery of the proceedings? You don’t see how catcalling, banging on desks, and stamping their feet resembles the behavior of a spoiled child? Sorry, you lost me somewhere in the beginning of your bombastic retort, before you fire off another salvo make sure your favorite professor gives it a glance.

          5. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous You know I actually didn’t speak that night, so this little jab about favorite teacher is lost on me. And I am not going to continue this discussion because we are clearly on different pages. I suppose you didn’t notice the clapping or foot-thumping that accompanied every pro-ROTC statement? No. Because according to you no one cheered them, no one clapped, it was an utterly silent event till the anti-ROTC lot spoke I suppose. Yes we clapped for those who spoke against bringing ROTC back, as those who support ROTC clapped for speakers that expressed view-points in consonance with theirs, but we also clapped for every veteran, and serving military serviceman that spoke. Did you notice that? Of course not. And if you honestly think that to say “bad people in the rest of the world are trying to kill Americans” is expressing a view-point and doesn’t insult people, then you have me there. I really have nothing more to say. You win. Congratulations.

          6. Stephen says:

            @Stephen I believe you are adding the mention of “in the rest of the world.” He did say, “bad people are plotting to kill Americans,” or something to that effect. As I’ve said elsewhere, I believe this statement is a serious oversimplification of the issue. That said, if you don’t believe that there are people in the world, where ever they may be, plotting to kill Americans, then you are being willfully ignorant of the situation. There are two or three members of al-Qaeda who regularly produce video and audio statements in which they mention that they are, in fact, plotting to kill Americans. So let’s agree that at least these two or three people are plotting to kill Americans. You may or may not be willing to take the next step with me: I argue that it is conceivable that there are yet more people out there who would like to kill Americans, but are not making video or audio statements about it. I could be wrong about this. Perhaps the only people who want to kill Americans are the ones who are releasing public statements on the issue. Either way, however, to say that “there are bad people out there plotting to kill Americans” is, if we accept my previous evidence, objectively true. Well, maybe not the “bad people” part. I guess that is an opinion. But there are “people out there plotting to kill Americans.”

            It’s a true statement. The people who screamed “racist” at that soldier are doing so with no justification. He did not say “there are evil Muslims out there plotting to kill you.” He made a true statement, trying to point out that the military is a necessary institution. Someone had to make this point, given the large number of anthropology students who seemed to be claiming that the military is an evil organization that murders lots of people. He was providing a counter-argument to this claim, and his was a fair and reasonable point to make.

            Screaming “racist” is not a fair or reasonable point based on the actual words that the speaker used. In fact, I believe that the screams of racism are attempts to shut down debate.

      2. Heavy hitters says:

        @Heavy hitters Ironically, the Army wants more anthropology skills so there’s potential for a constructive relationship between Anthropology and ROTC.

  • Alum says:

    @Alum Dear Prof. Silver,

    In 2011, “homosexual” is used primarily as an adjective, not a noun, if it’s ever used at all. A loaded term outside of the sciences, its use is restricted by the Associated Press, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

    Don’t use backward and outdated terms to convince people that your agenda is an improvement over the past.

    Thank you.

    1. Heavy hitters says:

      @Heavy hitters Good comeback!

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You’re wrong

  • Heavy hitters says:

    @Heavy hitters Impressive. Some big names on that list. Some surprising names, too.

    1. Alum says:

      @Alum Especially Andrew Nathan, one of the world’s leading experts on human rights. Guess trans people aren’t human. LOLZ.

      1. Hahaha says:

        @Hahaha Snipe away all you want. ROTC is coming back. America!

      2. over it senior says:

        @over it senior Andrew Nathan is all concerned about human rights in China… it does not seem to occur to him that human rights is also an american issue.

  • Full Circle says:

    @Full Circle We’ve come full circle since the 60’s. Good for us, Columbia. True progressives know when to fight battles from the future, and when to let the past die.

  • ... says:

    @... Citizenship? Last time I checked you didn’t have to serve in the military to be a citizen of the US.

    1. also says:

      @also you don’t have to be a citizen to serve in the military.

      1. Heavy hitters says:

        @Heavy hitters Officers have to be US citizens.

  • come gather round says:

    @come gather round the times they are a changin’!


  • USMC says:

    @USMC We’re here . . . with beer . . . get used to it.

  • i mean... says:

    @i mean... look at the suicide rate in the military. It’s extraordinarily high. I don’t think not wanting ROTC on campus means not supporting those in the military. Its just deciding that being in the military is an incredible burden from which there is usually no escape. And maybe if this campus can prevent its members from making what, according to countless past examples, will come to be a decision they regret….then why not prevent it? Since when did it become Columbia’s job to save the country or the military?

    1. Are you serious?! says:

      @Are you serious?! “Since when did it become Columbia’s job to save the country or the military?”

      Since 1754.

    2. OR says:

      @OR Since when did it become Columbia’s job to defend their students from free choice?

      You’re one of those “I’m-smart-than-you” liberals, aintcha?

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You make joining the military sound like drunk driving. For many individuals (although I will admit, not for everyone), joining the military is a rewarding experience that can provide leadership and valuable life skills. What about those people? For them it is much harder. If there is ROTC on campus, those who want to join the military can do so without compromising their studies. Those who don’t want to join DON’T HAVE TO JOIN.

      In fact, your argument actually is a reason why ROTC should come back to Columbia. If the military isn’t right for someone, shouldn’t they find out in a training program when they still have the chance to get out? Or maybe they should enlist, find out they hate it, and then do exactly what you talk about.

    4. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Sure, the military is not always a great fit for all, but these comments are among the most ignorant I’ve heard echoed so far in this debate. To echo the comments above, military service can be a rewarding way to learn valuable life skills, as well as a pathway to a college education. Who are you to make someone else’s life decisions for them?

      Before posting things like this, try taking a sample of some of CU’s (very successful) veterans in GS, SIPA, the Business and Law Schools. Ask them if they are proud of their service. Maybe some will share with you their regrets or reservations, but I guarantee that a majority do not consider their service “a decision they regret” or “an incredible burden from which there is usually no escape.”

      1. Heavy hitters says:

        @Heavy hitters The important thing for me about ROTC is that officers, even new lieutenants, make a difference. New lieutenants as platoon leaders are put in charge of 20-30 soldiers with great influence over their lives. Soldiers and their families depend on that lieutenant. When deployed, that lieutenant also makes a difference with the people he or she contacts, whether the mission is combat, peace-keeping, disaster relief, training partner forces, humanitarian aid or whatever.

        Columbia graduates are supposed to make a difference and ROTC graduates will make a difference.

  • Trans Issue says:

    @Trans Issue The issue of transgendered people in the military doesn’t seem to have a lot of evidence in it’s support. In fact, it seems that it’s an issue fabricated to allow people with a fundamental objection to the military to continue arguing. Read Michael Segal’s email from Although the military uses the DSM for exclusionary purposes, that manual includes both Gender Identity Disorder and Premature Ejaculation, and there are no know instances of the military enforcing either.

    It’s time to celebrate the end of DADT and allow ROTC back on campus.

  • Reality says:

    @Reality This just in: 20 signatures doesn’t indicate full faculty support for ROTC like your headline implies, Bwog.

    Seriously, get your shit together.

    1. anon says:

      @anon Don’t think Bwog ever expressed full faculty support buddy

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Just one thing, there seems to be a conflict of interest with James Applegate given that he is one of the faculty members in the task force, A member of the task force should be neutral on the issue, and not openly endorse or oppose the return of the ROTC.
    While the subject of the task force, during the town hall meetings the task force have refuse to distribute copies of the language of Columbia’s non-discriminatory policy. However the task force distributed pamphlets with the history of the military and Columbia, They said that distributing the non-discriminatory policy would be seen as taking a stance on the issue. Because one of its members openly supporting the return of ROTC isn’t a stance…

  • Van Owen says:

    @Van Owen I just received news that Columbia will be inviting ROTC back. This comes from a very reliable source within the administration.

    1. gotta vote 1st says:

      @gotta vote 1st The University Senate has to vote on it first and that will take place in April, but it’s plausible that University senators have already made their decisions.

  • reconsidering 209 says:

    @reconsidering 209 big meet up in 209??

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Just one thing, there seems to be a conflict of interest with James Applegate given that he is one of the faculty members in the task force. A member of the task force should be neutral on the issue, and not openly endorse or oppose the return of the ROTC.
    While the subject of the task force, during the town hall meetings the task force have refuse to distribute copies of the language of Columbia’s non-discriminatory policy. However the task force distributed pamphlets with the history of the military and Columbia, They said that distributing the non-discriminatory policy would be seen as taking a stance on the issue. Because one of its members openly supporting the return of ROTC isn’t a stance…

    1. non-discrimination policy and ROTC says:

      @non-discrimination policy and ROTC The non-discrimination policy doesn’t bar ROTC over the military’s transgender policies. The non-discrimination policy only bars unlawful discrimination. Lawful accomodations are allowed and the military’s policies are lawful.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous The transgender discrimination is an internal military policy. It is not a law. And what constitute “lawful accommodations”? The military is allowed to to discriminate when a physical condition would prevent them from doing the job. Being transgender does not stop anyone from doing military duties. Just because it is allowed at the moment doesn’t make it lawful nor right.

        1. Van Owen says:

          @Van Owen Oh, it’s a double secret probation type of thing and only military insiders are in the know. Got it, thanks for the clarification. Those darn insiders and their frumpy rules…

        2. non-discrimination policy and ROTC says:

          @non-discrimination policy and ROTC Barnard’s admissions policy is a lawful accomodation.

          1. The presumption is that the military’s policy is lawful. 2. Courts traditionally set a higher bar for suits against military personnel policies that may differ from what the law may allow for ordinary employers. 3. What case law there is – it’s sparse but it exists – has upheld the military transgender policy.

          As you point out, what’s deemed lawful can be incongruent with what one believes is right. I don’t claim that military transgender policy is right, but from what little I’ve read about it, the issue is at least complicated and nuanced. I can understand why LGBT military activists declined to bundle transgender policy with DADT repeal.

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