Everything You Wanted to Know About ROTC, To Date

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The University Senate will probably vote on their draft resolution for ROTC’s return on April 1st, although it’s possible they’ll delay until the following plenary meeting on April 29th. Barring a veto of their decision by the Trustees, the USenate’s vote will be the final decision. Reviewing our coverage of the ROTC proceedings, here is both a recap of the process so far, and a summary of the Task Force On Military Engagement‘s 228 page-long monster of a report and draft resolution.

Keep reading after the jump for a summary of the Task Force’s report and the draft resolution.

The 228-page Task Force report opens with an explanation for why it exists:

“In the wake of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the Task Force on Military Engagement was constituted with a mandate to inform the Columbia community and facilitate a debate,with a view toward providing the University Senate with adequate information to revisit policy regarding Columbia’s relationship with the U.S. military, with a particular focus on the question of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.”

And then summarizes its recommendations right out front:

[T]he Task Force unanimously formulated findings and recommendations for the University Senate:

  • Our current relationships with the military enrich the Columbia community.
  • Columbia’s relationship with ROTC is an issue of concern and the matter should be addressed formally by the University Senate at present.
  • Columbia should actively support the endeavors of individual students to participate in ROTC programs, whether on- or off-campus.
  • If ROTC is to return to Columbia, the faculty and Deans must retain full jurisdiction over questions of academic credit, appointments, and governance.
  • The Task Force believes Columbia’s non-discrimination policy is deeply important to Columbia’s identity and expresses shared values of fostering a tolerant and open community.

Following the recommendations, the report gives a description of what ROTC actually is and Columbia’s history of engagement with both the military in general and specifically ROTC, from the founding to 1968 to surveys in 2003 to the present. It describes programs at peer institutions.

It describes the Task Force’s formation, the hearings, the survey, and the statements taken via email. Then things get interesting with an in-depth analysis of survey data in Section 3.1 and Appendix II.

“60% of students surveyed are in favor, 33% are not in favor, and 7% don’t know or have no opinion on the first question of “I ______ of a return of ROTC to Columbia’s campuses.”

Of the five academic programs surveyed, SIPA was 66% in favor, GS 71%, SEAS 70%, and CC 59%. Barnard voted 42% in favor, and 47% not in favor.”

Columbia College had the highest turnout at 25%, with SEAS next behind with 19% and SIPA in last with 11%.

2,252 students out of 11,629 eligible returned surveys (19%).

152 students from SIPA returned surveys (11% turnout).

307 from General Studies returned surveys (15% turnout).

283 from SEAS undergraduate returned surveys (19% turnout).

1,113 from Columbia College returned surveys (25% turnout).

397 from Barnard College returned surveys (17% turnout).

And here’s the full recommendation:

Based on the feedback received, the Task Force makes the following unanimous findings and recommendations.

First, Columbia has many existing relationships with the U.S. military, notwithstanding ROTC. The Task Force believes that Columbia’s current relationships with the military enrich the Columbia community.

Second, the Task Force received a wide and complex range of views and feedback regarding Columbia’s relationship with ROTC and the American military as a whole. The Task Force believes Columbia’s relationship with ROTC is an issue of concern for the Columbia community and that this matter should be addressed formally by the University Senate. Furthermore, the Task Force believes the present is an appropriate time for the Senate to revisit its previous stances on ROTC.

Third, the Task Force believes that Columbia University should actively support the endeavors of individual students to participate in ROTC programs, whether on- or offcampus. The Task Force believes the Reserve Officers Training Corps is a voluntary activity based on individual choice.

Fourth, the Task Force believes that if ROTC is to return to Columbia, it must do so under the provisions that degree credit is determined by the deans, faculties, and appropriate Committees on Instruction, that faculty titles be appropriate by Columbia’s criteria, and that Columbia retains control of its space and other resources.

Finally, notwithstanding the issue of ROTC, the Task Force believes Columbia’s nondiscrimination policy is deeply important to Columbia’s identity and expresses shared values of fostering a tolerant and open community.

The University Senate’s draft resolution is much simpler. You can read it in full here, but the substance is this:

That it is in the interest of Columbia University to continue to constructively engage the Armed Forces of the United States and educate the future military leaders, subject to administrative, logistical, and legal concerns; and

That Columbia University welcomes the opportunity to explore further mutually beneficial relationships with the Armed Forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.

The Senate will meet tomorrow Friday at 1:15 p.m., in 104 Jerome Greene Hall. Anyone with a CUID is welcome to attend.

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  1. Anonymous

    I hope they vote and this kind of news goes away. ROTC news is taking up way too much news coverage. Personally I'm just getting annoyed by it all. I ate at 5 guys and a burger yesterday and it was gross compared to mels, but I think the fries taste better. Still wish I ate at chipotle or coissed the street and went to mels instead. Just saying, maybe the reporters should go back to reporting on things most people care about, like burger reviews.

  2. Anonymous

    Coissed = crossed

  3. WTF  

    Bwog, you're presenting a very biased view of the ROTC debate. This school has such slanted journalism!

    " Of 11,629 eligible students, 2,252 students voted. 60% voted in favor of ROTC’s return to Columbia. "

    Why won't you address the irrelevance that this survey has in these results? Look at the response rate! No survey is representative of a population that only has a 19% response rate! That means that only the extreme groups came out and voted, creating biased results. It's simple number crunching!

    The abuse of these biased survey statistics throughout this ROTC debate is something that our campus news media should be ashamed of. Hopefully, this issue is well aware to the Senate that will be voting on Friday.

    • stats  

      Actually, 2,252 is a pretty good sample size. And the problem wouldn't be the 19% response rate, but the fact that there is selection bias in the responses. Overall, though, this survey does provide useful information.

    • You're sorta right

      but not really. The sample size is plenty large and even though the self selection is an issue, its only a statistical one. It comes down to what is the purpose of the survey. If the goal is to get an accurate assessment of the opinions of those on campus then a random sample of only a few hundred would be enough to get good power. Surveys of the entire country are done with only a few thousand voters (<1%) as the key is the random selection. This clearly was not the goal as they emailed the survey to everyone.

      I believe the goal was to assess the magnitude of the different opinions on ROTC. I would expect that the overwhelming majority of those who had an strong opinion on the return of ROTC voted leaving the other 80% as mostly "undecided/don't care." I'm happy with this survey the people who care (demonstrated by voting) had their votes counted and those who don't care didn't.

  4. Anonymous  

    Green jacket, gold jacket, who gives a sh*t

  5. alum

    I wouldn't be overly concerned about the influence of the student poll. In 2005, the most current student poll on ROTC had 2/3 students favored ROTC but the senate still voted overwhelmingly against ROTC. I'm sure the senators will vote on the merits on ROTC as they see them, and the student survey will only be one factor, not determinative.

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