The Task Force has closed its survey and conducted its hearings. Audio recordings for all three are posted online, as are the first two transcripts—the final one is expected within the next few days. The Task Force will continue to accept e-mail submissions and post them for consideration until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. The results will be announced when the report is delivered on March 4th. In other higher education news, former US Secretary of State and current Stanford professor of political science Condoleezza Rice has also announced her support of the “full reinstatement” of ROTC at Stanford University.

If you’ve felt overwhelmed by the heatedness of the debate, we’d like to provide a little bit more context on two facets of the issue, one against ROTC’s return: how transgender discrimination affects the issue; and one for: the nature of military engagement as it already exists at Columbia.

The crux of the transgender issue is this: Columbia’s administration was opposed to ROTC’s return in order to support the gay members of their community. Under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, openly gay people were not allowed to serve in the military. Even with the repeal of DADT, openly transgender people are still not allowed to serve in the military. Thus by agreeing to military engagement after DADT’s repeal, Columbia is ostensibly not according the same respect to the rights of transgender people as they did to homosexuals.

Sean Manning Udell, president of both the CC Class of 2011 and the Columbia Queer Alliance, gave an interview earlier this week to Joe Crummey on WABC’s radio broadcast. Though he firmly stated that neither he nor the Columbia Queer Alliance were opposed to the US military, he reiterated the point that the ROTC is still in violation of Columbia’s non-discrimination policy, as the ROTC still prohibits the participation of transgender individuals in its program. You can find the interview here, with Udell’s interview beginning at 20:40.

It is worth noting that one of the principal arguments against ROTC’s return is a fear of “militarization of the campus”. The Task Force has recently updated a report on military engagement at Columbia, stating that “Columbia University has limited engagement with the military beyond the question of ROTC.” This arguably makes the issue of militarization a moot point, and thus could work in favor the ROTC’s return. On the Senate’s website they’ve broken down the ways Columbia currently interacts with the military. We’ve highlighted the main points of their information.

Yellow Ribbon Program (Veterans)

  • Many Columbia schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, sponsored by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which furnishes student veterans with a tuition waiver or grant matched by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “420 veterans attend Columbia under the program’s auspices, with over 300 at the School of General Studies.”

Military Recruitment

  • Under the Solomon Amendment, Columbia Law School (CLS) is required to allow military recruitment on its campus; otherwise, it risks losing federal grants. Bwog recently posted a letter signed by 72 CLS faculty members stating their disapproval of on-campus military recruitment on the basis of its support of the university’s non-discrimination policy.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) participates in Armed Forces residency programs, which “facilitate postgraduate training in general and specialized medicine, and comes with a commission as an officer.” Several doctors serving as military officers are also P&S faculty.

Academic Programs

  • Teachers College (TC) participates in the Eisenhower Leader Development Program, a joint program between TC and West Point. Military officers selected as “Company Tactical Officers” study in the TC joint program in Social-Organizational Psychology (Leadership Development) while also serving as instructors at West Point. “Completion of the Eisenhower Leader Development Program leads to an MA from Teachers College and a three-year service obligation.”
  • West Point sends students to the GSAS Department of Political Science each year, sponsoring their tuition, fellowship, and living expenses. Students are admitted to the Political Science PhD program under the same policies and standards governing normal GSAS admission. After they complete their degrees, students (already commissioned officers) begin their active service obligation.

Military Research

  • Columbia University participates in research financed by the Department of Defense’s Basic Research funding. The university recently received an increase in DoD research funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the federal stimulus package).