Everything You Wanted to Know About ROTC, To Date
Written by Bwog Staff
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.
- The whole thing got started with the Senate’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Cinton-era policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the armed forces. The very next day, the University Senate created the Task Force On Military Engagement. In the same press release they laid out the plans for three town hall style meetings, solicitation of opinion by email, and a student survey, which together would inform the Task Force’s opinion. On January 28th, 2011, the Senate released a more specific version of that plan.
- The Task Force held its town hall meetings, not without controversy.
- Between the second and third meetings, the Senate released its non-binding survey to BC, CC, GS, SIPA and SEAS. Bwog helped clarify some points of the issue.
- Survey results came in. Of 11,629 eligible students, 2,252 students voted. 60% voted in favor of ROTC’s return to Columbia.
- The University Senate met on March 4th, and Ron Mazor and Roosevelt Montás presented the Task Force’s report.
- Some faculty held their own panel discussion which was classier than ours.
- The University Senate released a draft resolution which would tentatively allow ROTC to return.
- The next meeting of the University Senate—at which they will likely vote—will be April 1st. Failing a vote then, they will decide April 29th. Though a Trustee veto is technically possible,
one has never been exercised since the Senate was founded. it is very unlikely given recent history. The last time the Senate was overruled was in 2009 when they voted to change the date of commencement. There have only been a few other cases in the last decade.
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:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED
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
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED
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.