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Columbia Spectator Staff

Members of the University Senate's Executive Committee have drafted a resolution expressing support for the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, which the senate will likely vote on next month. A University senator sent Spectator a copy of the resolution draft, which has been circulated to senate committees for discussion. While the resolution draft expresses support for a return of ROTC to Columbia, it is not tantamount to senate support for ROTC. The full University Senate will likely vote on whether to approve the resolution in April. Senate committees are currently discussing the draft, which will probably change before being finalized. The Student Affairs Committee, which comprises 24 student senators and one observer, will hold a special meeting to discuss the draft on Friday. The meeting will not be open to the public. "There are a lot of boring meetings at the senate," University Senator Andrew Springer, a Journalism School student, said. "I don't think this will be one of them." According to a person familiar with the resolution, the draft was sent last week to the senate's Student Affairs Committee, Faculty Affairs Committee, Education Committee, and External Relations and Research Policy Committee. The same person added that the draft sent to Spectator was "an early draft" and that the resolution has "changed quite a bit" since it was first distributed last week. A University senator, who asked to remain anonymous because the draft was not supposed to be made public, said that he does not know of any revised drafts. The draft reads, in part, "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." Springer, an ROTC supporter, said the resolution draft does not go far enough in expressing support for ROTC. He said the draft includes a lot of "legalese" but no direct statement in support of ROTC. "I think you can see the senate being a little wishy-washy on this I would prefer a resolution that says we would allow the military to return to actively be engaged on Columbia's campus," Springer said. The draft makes no mention of Columbia's nondiscrimination policy. Some students oppose an ROTC return because the military does not accept transgender individuals, which they argue would violate Columbia's nondiscrimination policy. Avi Edelman, CC '11 and president of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, who opposes ROTC on nondiscrimination grounds, called it "mind-boggling" that the University's nondiscrimination policy has not seen greater discussion among senators and administrators. The policy bars organizations from discriminating on the basis of gender identity. "We're preparing to initiate actions that would undermine a policy that's been written and voted on and enforced for years, and no one's talking about that," Edelman said. The anonymous University senator said he has not heard many senators express opposition to ROTC on nondiscrimination grounds. Most opposition among senators, he said, has been based on concerns about Columbia becoming militarized or losing its academic autonomy. The draft states that "questions of academic credit, appointments, and governance shall remain the sole and exclusive domain of the Provost, of the faculties of the affected schools, and of their several deans." The draft also notes that Columbia has shown "widespread support for expanding Columbia's ties with the Armed Forces of the United States, specifically on the question of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps." The University Senate conducted a survey last month of students in Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Barnard College, the School of General Studies, and the School of International and Public Affairs, which showed that 60 percent of respondents supported a return of ROTC to Columbia. The full University Senate will hold its final two meetings of the semester April 1 and April 29. The senate will almost certainly vote on a finalized ROTC resolution at one of these meetings.

university senate task force on military engagement ROTC
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