News | Student Life

ROTC opponents still angered by poll, perceived lack of safe space

The Muslim Students Association and the Coalition for a Military Free Campus hosted a town hall Tuesday night to discuss the ROTC’s potential return to Columbia, which the University Senate will begin to debate on Friday.

No one in attendance voiced support for a return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which has not been present at Columbia for more than 40 years. And although members of the coalition stated that they had heavily advertised the event, attendees were mostly coalition members, along with a handful of other students.

Those at the town hall, which was held at the Intercultural Resource House, blamed the low attendance on apathy following the closure of the ROTC survey that the University senate sent to five schools last month.

“It was very strategic how they had this survey. It gives a sense of closure to the student body, and it is increasingly hard after the survey to get people to care,” Daniela Garcia, CC ’11, said. “We are forced to organize these events to disseminate information to the public.”

Throughout the meeting, members stressed that the senate’s Task Force on Military Engagement, which sent out the poll and hosted a series of town hall events on ROTC, has not been transparent.

“Discussion was not fostered and people summarized opinion,” Jessie Stoolman, BC ’14, said. “We could ask [the] task force questions, but they didn’t have to answer us. You could email questions, but I am not aware of anyone getting a response.”

Attendees also said the task force was never objective in its handling of its discussion on ROTC, noting that astronomy professor and task force member Jim Applegate has been a vocal ROTC proponent, writing pro-ROTC op-eds in campus publications.

The task force compiled a 228-page report summarizing campus opinions of ROTC, but never made an endorsement. The University Senate will discuss a resolution supporting ROTC on Friday, with a vote likely taking place at its April 29 meeting.

Other coalition members discussed Columbia College Dean Michele Moody-Adams’ opening remarks at the second senate-sponsored town hall, which many interpreted as expressing support for ROTC.

“It hindered a safe space of people expressing opinion,” Stoolman said. “I felt extremely awkward and could not grasp the situation, that the administrator who came before me would be endorsing ROTC at the beginning. This task force was meant to be a neutral body and just inform us and give us safe spaces to talk in. Yet, the people forming a safe space obviously had an agenda.”

Moody-Adams has maintained that she did not take a position in her remarks.

Coalition members said that they have had to work hard to inform students about ROTC—by setting up tables on College Walk, for example—in the absence of other sources of information.

“It’s absurd that students have to disseminate information on ROTC,” Zoe Willmott, BC ’12, said.

They also criticized the task force for not including the entire Columbia population in its survey, which was sent to students in Columbia College, the School for Engineering and Applied Science, Barnard College, the School of General Studies, and the School of International and Public Affairs.

“Conversation is not taking place on other campuses in any shape or form and we can’t even vote,” said Iesha Wadala, a second year graduate student at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Senate task force members have said that the poll was only sent to five schools because the entire University population is so large that Columbia’s computing department was unable to create a poll that would reach all of it. The task force chose to send the poll to the five schools that have had off-campus ROTC cadets in the past five years.

“The whole process has been really rushed in that way,” Willmott said. “Listen to our concerns and postpone it for another year.”

“I think it is very alienating,” Camilla Daniels, BC ’13, said. “If it [a vote] does get pushed in the next couple of weeks, it would destruct any type of community I feel in Columbia.”

constance.boozer@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

“The whole process has been really rushed in that way,” Willmott said. “Listen to our concerns and postpone it for another year.”

Sour grapes. Desperate delaying tactics.

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Anonymous posted on

I agree. This whole article looked like a very small minority grasping at straws.

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Anonymous posted on

There is a letter posted on Jake Novak’s blog requesting the school honor our military veterans at an upcoming football game. I highly recommend all students, staff and Alumni go to the blog and add their names to the letter. Even if you are against ROTC and what is happening with regard to the military, we all should be honoring those that severed. I would suggest the Spector directors take a look and also consider endorsing the concept.

http://roarlions.blogspot.com/

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Anonymous posted on

Thanks! I'm passing it on to other alumni!

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Anonymous posted on

deleted.

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Anonymous posted on

"vets are already given better scholarships than anyone on campus"

Other than those schools that don't participate in the yellow ribbon program, vets do not get better scholarships. The GS program is the only one that participates in that.

“Let the military train their troops on their own time... in their own place. Will ROTC candidates get the same scholarship packages as vets... has that been discussed?”

So the only college level officer training should only be at the military academies? ROTC students usually aren’t vets and don’t qualify for vet related financing. You made a really stupid statement. They do qualify for ROTC scholarships offered by the Federal Government. You have to commit to service after college to get that money so no one else at Columbia would qualify.

"if you are against the war, no more honoring vets at sporting events or special moments of silence holding them above other citizens that contribute to our society... not until the troops are home"

I am a hundred percent against war, but, your type of mentality is what drove the horrific treatment of Vietnam Vets when they came home while that war was still happening.

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Anonymous posted on

"So the only college level officer training should only be at the military academies?"

Yes.

"ROTC students usually aren’t vets and don’t qualify for vet related financing."

Back to the original question.... Are there plans for the university to create aid packages for ROTC candidates that are similar to the Yellow Ribbon package to supplement federal aid? Has this been discussed?

"I am a hundred percent against war, but, your type of mentality is what drove the horrific treatment of Vietnam Vets when they came home while that war was still happening."

This is total BS. This mentality did not drive the treatment of Vets after the Vietnam War. Never be disrespectful to Vets, but it is appalling to glorify war at sporting events and in all walks of life.

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Anonymous posted on

My Friend,

I graduated almost two years ago. My entire time at Columbia I had an attraction to military service, but my heavy course load made the commute back and forth from Fordham undoable. Thus, for the same reason I was unable to participate in Columbia sports, I did not participate in ROTC during college. I had the time for the activity, but not the commute.

Through the years, I still thought a lot about the military, but had no one to talk to about my questions and decisions. Vets on campus are visible enough- but I am not a vet, and I felt it would be crass and disrespectful to approach a vet and ask questions about service to them- who am I to know what memories or experiences I was triggering? Also, I was so much younger than they were- would they be offended by my naivete? Silly, I know now.

But back then the decision was so personal that I had a hard time imagining talking to anyone about it- who did I know at school that knew anything about the military at all? No one. And I was in science classes- it was not as though the subject matter in the classes I was taking led to discussions where I could identify like-minded people.

And even if I did, talking to a vet, a former military professional, is not the same as sharing and discussing your thoughts with a peer who is trying to make the same decisions as you. And none of my friends were interested in joining up. I felt alienated, alone, and without any guidance.

Finally, during my last year at school I found my way to the Times Square recruiters, who put me in touch with the right people to talk to. In the end, I decided that I would pursue graduate work in my field, and make a decision at a later date. But I can't help but think I would have been happier, during college and now, if I had had access to the education and community that ROTC offers students at other schools. Maybe I could have known before it was too late that my degree-type prevented me from direct recruitment into biomedical research labs. The Air Force only accepts Microbiology BAs for those positions, not Biology BAs. With better mentoring, maybe I could have found a way to get around this obstacle.

This isn't just about scholarships, wars, or vets. It is about people having access to the resources to do what they want with their lives. I didn't, and I don't want others to be as alone and fumbling as I was.

Sincerely,
Alumna '09

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Anonymous posted on

“If it [a vote] does get pushed in the next couple of weeks, it would destruct any type of community I feel in Columbia.”

I think she means "destroy."

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Anonymous posted on

Either way, I felt that comment was absolutely out of proportion. It isn`t like Columbia will suddenly become a military academy. ROTC will still be a small part of the university and won't interfere with usual community life.

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Anonymous posted on

"it would destruct any type of community I feel in Columbia"

It would be good for mankind if the Lucha/left-wing-radical/hippie-protestor community was "destructed".

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Anonymous posted on

Yeah, CC '11... just kill or wish killed everyone who disagrees with you. Good plan.

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Anonymous posted on

Didn't you know that's what they advocate in the military?? Especially when they're minorities!!!!

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Anonymous posted on

The 1996 Solomon Amendment provides for the Secretary of Defense to deny federal funding to institutions of higher learning if they prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. (http://www.yalerotc.org/Solomo... Congress seems quite obliged to save money wherever it can. I hope everyone is ready to open his or her wallets if this doesn’t go through. Personally, I'm not.

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Anonymous posted on

See Advocates for ROTC "Issues and Myths" page prepared for on-going ROTC deliberations by elite schools:
http://advocatesforrotc.org/is...

Issues and Myths about ROTC

This page discusses issues that have been raised about ROTC since the repeal of DADT, and some myths that have entered into the discussion.

Those unalterably opposed to ROTC have the easy task of finding as many problems with the military as possible. Those unalterably disdainful of top colleges have the easy task of finding as many problems with the university as possible. Our focus has been on the more difficult and constructive task of addressing the issues in a factual manner to promote ways in which the military and the university can engage, an approach also enunciated by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger.

Issues:

•DADT was repealed, but continuing discrimination against transgender people in the military violates university non-discrimination policies
•ROTC students are told not to access the WikiLeaks site
•Should ROTC be kept away from top colleges, in favor of Officer Candidate School after graduation?
•If top colleges ask for ROTC programs, will any be offered?
•Faculty appointments for heads of ROTC programs are required by law
•Are the cultures of the university and the military compatible on questioning authority?
Myths:

•A university must offer course credit for ROTC
•The Solomon Amendment doesn't apply to universities since they didn't formally expel ROTC
•ROTC students are not allowed to express political opinions in class
•It dishonors those who opened up cross-town opportunities for ROTC at top colleges to have on-campus ROTC
•The military exploits low-income people by trying to get them to enlist
•Students at top colleges are too anti-military to welcome ROTC
See also these "Blueprint" articles and petitions:

•Blueprint for Harvard ROTC
•Blueprint for Columbia ROTC
•Pro-ROTC Columbia faculty petition
•Anti-ROTC Columbia faculty petition

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Anonymous posted on

I want MY way, I don't care what anyone else wants!

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