As the Task Force wraps up its proceedings, faculty members have taken definitive stances on the issue of ROTC’s return. An advertisement (pdf here) appeared in the print version of the Spectator on Monday, reprinting the faculty statement of support, countered by a new statement of opposition. You can read our post from February 19th which includes the full statement and names of pro-ROTC signatories here, and the opposition statement below. The list is dominated by members English, History and Anthropology departments, and some heavy hitters include:

  • MICHAEL TAUSSIG, Class of 1933 Professor of Anthropology
  • DAVID HELFAND, Professor, Astronomy
  • RASHID KHALIDI, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, MESAAS
  • GAYATRI CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK, University Professor
  • MARY GORDON, McIntosh Professor of English, Barnard


We, the undersigned faculty members of Columbia University and Barnard College, wish to state our unequivocal opposition to the reinstatement of ROTC at Columbia…We hold it to be a matter of the most profound principle and educational philosophy that the idea of a university and the ethos of the military are incompatible. We believe that the militarization of the campus represented by ROTC’s uniformed presence is at odds with what we, as educators, hold sacrosanct. Advocates for ROTC’s return to campus claim that it would democratize Columbia, while enabling financially disadvantaged individuals to access the excellent opportunities of the Ivy League. We agree that poorer Americans should be given better opportunities, but we do not believe that upward social mobility should be ransomed for military service. Other forms of service, from planting trees to compensate for environmental destruction, to rebuilding communities ravaged by natural disasters, or tutoring disadvantaged youth, are not provided with systematic scholarship opportunities, and we do not believe that poor people should have to embrace militarism to obtain an education. By contrast, we would gladly endorse a more expansive and robust federal financial aid system open to all, with no strings attached. And we believe that many resources spent on funding war would be better spent on education.

We do not oppose veterans on our campus but we do not believe that the presence of non-uniformed soldiers has the same impact on the
university as ROTC would. Columbia has a long tradition of welcoming veterans. Those who are soldiers or ex-soldiers and seeking education can and do attend classes, at all levels. But they are present to others as students and not as the symbolic incarnations of the military. In uniform, individuals are representatives of the military before all else, and their presence constitutes a symbolic militarization of campus.

Columbia aspires to be a global university. In the classrooms of our remarkably internationalized institution, students from countries that are otherwise at war speak to each other and forge the basis of mutual understanding and peace. This possibility is threatened by the presence of the uniformed military.

It is often said that it is the right of all to pursue their chosen paths and that exclusion of the ROTC constitutes discrimination against those who wish to participate in ROTC. Similarly, the drive to re-instate ROTC has gathered momentum in the aftermath of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” on the grounds that its discriminatory powers have now been overcome. In fact, Columbia students are already able to partake in ROTC at other New York area campuses where ROTC exists. Equally important is the fact that ROTC will remain a discriminatory institution even after DADT has become a relic of history. There are many reasons–from physical disability to age–for which people are disqualified from admission. This fact is clearly contrary to Columbia’s policy, which prohibits discrimination against “any person in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs.”

Many soldiers who advocate ROTC’s return to Columbia rightly note that it is not the military that generates policies which are then implemented by soldiers, but Congress. The military merely implements those policies. But here is the most profound point of opposition between the military and the university as institutions: ROTC, and the military in general, trains people for obedience to the chain of command, whereas the university cultivates a critical and constantly questioning consciousness. This is the essence of the university’s contribution to a democratic society. Although the military may play a defensive role to uphold that same democracy, it does so by means that are antithetical to those of the university, where speech and dialogue, rather than the bearing of arms and the use of force, are primary. For this reason, we believe that the ideas and ideals to which our university has been and should be devoted are undermined by the presence of ROTC on campus.

NADIA ABU EL HAJ, Associate Professor, Anthropology, Barnard
LILA ABU-LUGHOD, Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science,
BASHIR ABU-MANNEH, Assistant Professor, English, Barnard
ALEXANDER ALBERRO, Virginia Bloedel Wright Professor of Art History, Barnard
GIL ANIDJAR, Associate Professor, MESAAS & Religion
COURTNEY BENDER, Associate Professor, Religion
ELIZABETH BERNSTEIN, Assistant Professor, Women”s Studies, Barnard
AKEEL BILGRAMI, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy
ELIZABETH S. BLACKMAR, Professor, History
BRIAN BOYD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Anthropology
LILA BRAINE, Professor Emerita, Barnard
TAYLOR CARMAN, Professor, Philosophy, Barnard
ELIZABETH CASTELLI, Professor and Chair, Religion, Barnard
JEAN LOUISE COHEN, Professor, Political Science
ELAINE COMBS-SCHILLING, Associate Professor, Anthropology
JOHN COLLINS, Professor, Philosophy
EDGAR RIVERA COLON, Instructor, Sociomedical Sciences
JONATHAN CRARY, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Art History
JULIE CRAWFORD, Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature
ZOE CROSSLAND, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
KATHERINE DIECKMANN, Assistant Professor, Film, School of the Arts
HAMID DABASHI, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies
E. VALENTINE DANIEL, Professor, Anthropology
MADELEINE DOBIE, Associate Professor, French and Romance Philology
BRENT HAYES EDWARDS, Professor, English and Comparative Literature
BERNARD FAURE, Kao Professor of Japanese Religions
CATHERINE FENNELL, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
KATHERINE FRANKE, Professor of Law
HERBERT J. GANS, Robert S. Lynd Professor Emeritus, Sociology
LYDIA GOEHR, Professor, Philosophy
BETTE GORDON, Professor, Film, School of the Arts
MARY GORDON, McIntosh Professor of English, Barnard
STATHIS GOURGOURIS, Professor, English and Comparative Literature, &
Modern Greek
NAJAM HAIDAR, Assistant Professor, Religion, Barnard
KIM HALL, Lucyle Hook Professor of English, Director, Africana Studies, Barnard
WAEL HALLAQ, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, MESAAS
ROSS O. HAMILTON, Associate Professor, English, Barnard
DAVID HELFAND, Professor, Astronomy
MARIANNE HIRSCH, William Peterfield Trent Professor of English,
English and Comparative Literature
JEAN HOWARD, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, English and
Comparative Literature
ANDREAS HUYSSEN, Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature
MARILYN IVY, Associate Professor, Anthropology
RASHID KHALIDI, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Middle East
South Asian and African Studies
LYDIA LIU, W.T. Tam Professor in the Humanities, East Asian Languages
and Cultures
SYLVÈRE LOTRINGER, Professor Emeritus, French and Romance Philology
REINHOLD MARTIN, Associate Professor of Architecture, Director, Temple
Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture
JOSEPH MASSAD, Associate Professor, MESAAS
KRISTINA MILNOR, Associate Professor, Classics, Barnard
ROSALIND C. MORRIS, Professor, Anthropology
JOHN PEMBERTON, Associate Professor, Anthropology
GREG PFLUGFELDER, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures
ELIZABETH POVINELLI, Professor, Anthropology
WAYNE PROUDFOOT, Professor, Religion
BRUCE ROBBINS, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities,
English and Comparative Literature
NAN ROTHSCHILD, Adjunct Professor, Anthropology
SUSAN RIEMER SACKS, Professor, Psychology, Barnard
JAMES SCHAMUS, Professor, Film
SHARON SCHWARTZ, Professor, Epidemiology, Sociomedical Sciences
LESLEY SHARP, Professor, Anthropology, Barnard, and Senior Research
Scientist, Sociomedical Sciences
AUDRA SIMPSON, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
HERBERT SLOAN, Professor, History, Barnard
PAUL STROHM, Anna S. Garbedian Professor Emeritus, English and
Comparative Literature
JOHN SZWED, Professor, Music
MICHAEL TAUSSIG, Class of 1933 Professor of Anthropology
MARK C. TAYLOR, Professor, Religion
KENDALL THOMAS, Nash Professor of Law
NADIA URBINATI, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and
Hellenic Studies, Political Science
CAROL VANCE, Associate Clinical Professor, Sociomedical Sciences
PAIGE WEST, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Barnard
MABEL O. WILSON, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Architectural
Planning and Preservation