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Columbia Spectator Staff

A day after voting closed on the controversial Reserve Officer Training Corps student survey, student government leaders were sharply split on how to interpret the results. break The survey—which asked undergraduates "Do you support bringing a Naval ROTC program to Columbia's campus?"—aimed to gauge student opinion on Columbia's 40-year-old ban on ROTC programs on campus. The results of the vote, which concluded Monday, are supposed to inform the undergraduate University senators as they weigh whether or not to bring the issue to the full University Senate this year. However, the student leaders who brought the issue to the forefront seemed split Tuesday on whether the results of the survey are valid and whether they call for further consideration of the issue. Barnard's survey results, announced Tuesday, revealed that the school is solidly against the proposal: 736 students, or 61.9 percent, voted against it, while 38.1 percent voted for it. Columbia's three undergraduate schools—Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies—conducted the survey together. Students in those three schools were almost evenly divided on the vote, with students coming out against the proposal by a hair's width: 1,502 (50.56 percent) voted no, 1,463 (49.24 percent) voted yes, and six (0.20 percent) abstained. Contentious discussion about the NROTC proposal, which has been a source of controversy since the idea of a student survey was first floated in October, continued after the survey results were announced Tuesday. Though his fellow council leaders expressed confidence in the voting system, General Studies Student Council president Brody Berg publicly spoke out against the computerized survey in an e-mail to constituents Tuesday. Berg referred to defects in the system, including allegations that it enabled students to vote multiple times. "I believe that this poll result is meaningless due to the huge number of apparently fraudulent votes," Berg wrote in an e-mail to GS students, calling for a new vote. But other council leaders were quick to rebuff Berg's remarks, saying they were assured of the legitimacy of the results by the Student Development and Activities office, which administered the survey. "Brody was not involved in the planning of the survey at all," said Adil Ahmed, CC '09 and Columbia College Student Council vice president for policy. "There's no black hole where votes were lost." Ahmed added that any duplicate votes that were cast were eliminated from the survey results. It was not immediately clear whether the University Senate will take up the NROTC issue in light of the survey results. University Senator Rajat Roy, SEAS '10, said the senators would vote on the issue at Friday's Student Affairs Caucus. But that was contradicted by Roy's CCSC counterpart Monica Quaintance, CC '10. "I'm waiting to hear what the plan is," Quaintance said. She was unaware of an upcoming vote but said that among the three senators from CCSC, one would probably vote "pro," one "con," and one "abstain" to reflect the survey results. CCSC president George Krebs said he did not think that there would be a vote on Friday. From the beginning, student government leaders have claimed that the survey will determine how undergraduate senators will vote in the Student Affairs Caucus of the senate. If it passes there, the issue could go to the full senate, President Lee Bollinger, and Columbia's trustees, who would have the final say on the policy. But because Columbia's three undergraduate schools were lumped together in the poll, Roy said that it will be difficult for senators to determine how to vote. "They didn't divide up the vote by school, which was surprising, since that was first thing we [senators] told them to do," Roy said. With a more decisive survey result, Barnard seems to have remained above the fray: the senator from Barnard will vote against the policy if and when the question comes up in the senate.

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