University Senate Proposed: September 24, 2004
President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 501 Schermerhorn. Sixty-one of 101 senators were present.
Minutes and agenda: The minutes of March 26 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.
--Presidential committee on academic freedom: The president appointed a committee a year ago to consider three main issues. The first was Columbia’s principles governing speech on campus. The second issue had to do with what the president called the technicalities of academic freedom, such as the conditions under which permits should be issued for various kinds of discourse. The third issue was a number of allegations that students felt intimidated in the classroom from expressing reasonable points of view because some faculty members were intolerant of those viewpoints. There were also complaints that some faculty were using the classroom as a pulpit for inculcating their own political views on reasonably debatable and important issues. Should there be limits on the principle of academic freedom to prevent such faculty behavior?
The president’s own view was that what faculty say in public debate is not the concern of the university. On the other hand, he said, the principle of academic freedom does not protect systematic intimidation of students in the classroom, or the politicization of a classroom.
These are highly contested points of principle, the president said. He said people important to Columbia, not just extremists, maintain that a faculty member who says things that most people consider really offensive and outrageous can really hurt the university, because people associate that person’s views with the university. The president said he disagreed with this view.
He said he decided a year ago that it would be a good idea to have a group of faculty reflect on these principles and the question of what Columbia stands for. As a private institution, Columbia does not have to apply the First Amendment to what’s said within the university, but can choose its own principles. A committee chaired by law professor Vincent Blasi, a First Amendment expert, has met several times this year, and has concluded that it agrees with the principle that no penalty should be imposed on a faculty member for statements made in public debate about public issues. They also decided that the procedures governing discourse on campus, a result of a great deal of work after the late 1960s, are exemplary.
The committee also agrees that intimidation of students who try to present reasonable points of view on issues in the classroom is not protected by the principle of academic freedom, and is wrong. There was more uncertainty in the committee on the application of the principle to cases in which a faculty member deliberately tries to inculcate a particular political viewpoint in students. These are complex, difficult issues, worthy of discussion over time, the president said.
The president said the committee did not hear about instances of systematic intimidation or political bias in the classroom. Another problem they considered is the decision by some faculty members to cancel classes to attend political rallies. The president disapproved of this practice, but acknowledged that this issue was also not simple. Again, the committee found no instances of repeated or regular cancellation of classes for this purpose.
The president emphasized that contrary to some recent press accounts, the committee was not set up to investigate anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias in the Columbia faculty.
The president called for continuing discussion of the principles involved, and said he would try to raise these issues again next year.
--Graduate student unionization: The president reported on issues underlying a strike by graduate TAs that was now nearing the end of its second week. More than two years ago, he said, the Rupp administration had appealed a ruling by a regional NLRB official that Columbia teaching assistants are employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act and are therefore entitled to vote on whether to unionize. An election had taken place in March 2002, but the ballots were impounded pending the outcome of the university’s appeal. The president said it was unfortunate that the appeal has still not been decided.
He made three points about unionization. First, his administration’s position is that on balance graduate students and the university will be better off over the long term without a union as an intermediary. A second point is that no one in the present administration thinks that graduate student unionization is a life- or-death issue for the university. A third point is that his administration will try to incorporate a greater sense of the views of the faculty—not through a formal vote but through broad consultations—as it formulates a position on the issue after the NLRB has finally ruled.
Sen. Matan Ariel (Stu., GS) asked how classes that have been affected by the walkout will be taught. If appropriate substitutes cannot for these courses, will students receive a refund?
Sen. Alan Brinkley, the provost, said the university has tried to keep the disruption of the academic lives of students to a minimum, but he could not say that students have paid no price for the strike. The university is determined to make sure students get final grades, but their work is not being graded by the people they worked with through the term. He said it was simply not possible to bring in substitutes to finish the term in all classes affected by the strike.
Sen. Ariel asked why a union is not good in the long run for the university’s teaching assistants.
The president said he could only answer briefly. He said that if there is an opportunity to have a relationship built on a real sense of caring and responsibility for another person or a group of people, it is a big loss to add an intermediary. The inevitable result is a more adversarial relationship. His understanding was that for years Columbia had too many graduate students enrolled, and left many of them to fend for themselves, with inadequate mentoring and financial support. In the past decade, by contrast, Columbia has cared greatly for its graduate students, with better admissions, competitive financial support, and stronger relationships with the faculty.
The president, a lawyer, said relationships change with the addition of lawyers, an outcome he tries to avoid whenever possible. He concluded that the university is conducting its relationship with graduate students—an essential constituency— with the right spirit and the right values. No intermediary is needed.
In response to a question from Sen. Bradley Bloch (Alum.), the president said there were extensive meetings with alumni about the present strike.
Sen. Coilin Parsons (Stu., GSAS/Hum), a striking TA, rose to rebut some of the president’s characterizations of the union and the strike. He began by saying he was gratified to hear the president speak publicly for the first time about unionization.
The president interrupted to say that that was a mistake, that he had made a statement about unionization two years ago.
Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.) objected that the issue of unionization was not on the agenda. Sen. Parsons said the topic was listed on the agenda, under the president’s report. The president said it was important to let Sen. Parsons speak, but he asked him to make it brief.
Sen. Parsons said the simplest way to end the strike was for the University to withdraw its appeal before the NLRB. Sen. Parsons also objected to the characterization of the regional NLRB official who ruled against the University two years ago as a “local” official. That was an NLRB ruling, Sen. Parsons said, by one of its regional boards, not just a local decision. Sen. Parsons also stressed that graduate students have a legal right to form a union, a right he said the University was trying to take away.
Sen. Parsons also objected to the president’s characterization of the union as an outside body coming into Columbia University. He said student efforts to unionize began late in 2000, when a report by the Graduate Student Advisory Council on the conditions of graduate students went largely unheeded. At that point, a group of graduate students decided to take action. He said they spent hours talking to each other and to other graduate students—1500 of them in the past year alone—in order to form a union for graduate students, run by graduate students. He said contracts will be negotiated and voted on by graduate students.
Sen. Parsons added that the graduate students could not afford to pay for those lawyers that the president didn’t like. In order to go the NLRB, they needed the support of the United Auto Workers. But the group is formed by graduate students, for graduate students.
Sen. Parsons said graduate students have suffered, substantially, and don’t want to do it any longer. He said many TAs have been in touch with faculty members to tell them they want to grade papers, but feel they can’t do it until the university begins to negotiate. He said senior have sent conflicting signals about talks. Sen. Parsons said there is a clear need for talks, but not like those of recent years, in which graduate students have said they’re in trouble, and the administration says it can’t afford them.
The president said he respected Sen. Parsons’ position, and added that there is a legitimate difference of opinion about what is in the best interest of graduate students and the university over time. There is a dispute also about the legal obligations of the university, which the president said the university is pursuing in an appropriate way. He said the university could withdraw its appeal before the NLRB, but not if it wants to maintain the position that the National Labor Relations Act does not require the unionization of teaching assistants.
Sen. Parsons suggested having faculty members and students ask more questions on unionization issues. The president said it was time to move on.
Sen. Luciano Rebay (Ten., A&S/Hum.) asked whether the president had checked the map of Columbia holdings in the Morningside area to determine whether the university really owns the Casa Italiana building or leases it. The president said he had learned that Columbia has a 500-year lease on the building, so the color code used in the map—the one indicating ownership—was really appropriate.
Sen. Rebay then made a lengthy statement about the Casa Italiana.
Sen. Jeremy Waldron (Ten., Law) suggested that the Senate was not prepared to discuss this issue, and that Sen. Rebay was out of order.
Provost Brinkley rebutted one claim in Sen.Luciano Rebay’s statement—that the Italian government had rejected the nomination for reappointment of the director of the Casa Italiana.
--Manhattanville: Planning has entered a new phase, the president said. After a year of internal and external discussions, the University presented a preliminary model of the plan at community meetings a week ago. It has now begun the political process leading to rezoning of the area, a process that begins with Community Board 9 and culminates in the City Council. It is impossible to know the outcome, but prospects now are very good.
Mark Burstein, vice president for facilities management, added two reminders related to Manhattanville. He asked everyone to fill out a transportation survey that had been sent to the Columbia community by e-mail. He also mentioned a new information fair on Manhattanville, to take place on May 4, which will also enable people to provide feedback on the project.
The president also called attention to the model of the Manhattanville development on display at the front of the room.
Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) thanked senators for their contributions to a successful year for the Senate. Despite some difficulties assembling a three-fifths majority this session at plenary meetings this year, the Senate has accomplished this feat in three of its eight meetings, including the present one. To applause, Sen. Duby also thanked the Senate staff for its work.
He reminded senators about the Senate’s role in Commencement ceremonies, and invited them to attend this year.
Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee at its last meeting, on April 23, was a couple of names short of a final roster for an ROTC task force. He hoped to announce a final roster soon. He hoped the group could do some preliminary work before the fall. Its main job, he said, is to gather the sentiment of students about ROTC, not through a plebiscite, but through an informal inquiry to learn if there are students who will benefit from such a program and how it might be possible to implement it. He said the administration has indicated its interest in learning the opinion of students and faculty.
Special committee reports:
--Student Affairs: Nathan Walker (Stu. Obs., TC), co-chair of the student caucus, said he hoped to dispel two myths about the Senate. The first is that the Senate doesn’t enact legislation, but serves as a kind of mannequin for other interests to manipulate for their own purposes. In fact, he said, the administration and the Senate have responded to several student initiatives, including the enfranchisement of Teachers College students for the first time in 35 years, and the approval of a nursing degree program that matches the practice of the most advanced nursing students. Students have also played a significant role in the Manhattanville project, and in efforts to strengthen ties with alumni and Trustees. They have developed the Agora project, which will enable members of various Columbia communities to communicate with each other.
Mr. Walker said the second myth about the Senate—that students are spoiled brats, who complain and protest without any regard to authority—may have arisen from the issue of graduate student unionization. After studying this issue at some length, the Student Affairs Committee developed its Resolution on the Democratic Rights of Teaching and Research Assistants. This was not a resolution about unionization, but a resolution to recognize a petition from a Senate constituency. The Senate by-laws say a matter may be placed on a committee agenda if 150 or more Senate constituents submit a petition on that issue. The resolution the student caucus submitted to the Senate in March, which was ruled out of order, was in response to just such a petition, which Mr. Walker said represented the will of a majority of graduate students. He hoped that in the future the Senate would address this petition.
Another important concern of Student Affairs has to do with the issue of racism on campus, which the Senate discussed only briefly in February and not at all since. This lack of attention is troubling to students, Mr. Walker said. He said students hope to work with the administration and the Senate in developing a policy to distinguish between hate speech and free speech. He said some students now think that in the name of free speech they can blatantly, verbally assault their peers.
Mr. Walker announced that the student caucus was able to conduct the first University-wide student poll including all graduate and undergraduate divisions, collecting more than 6000 online votes on the student diploma initiative led by Sen. Matan Ariel.
Mr. Walker concluded that, contrary to the two myths he had outlined, senators work well together in an institution with real power in University affairs.
The president thanked Mr. Walker. He said a lot of work has been done to address the issue of racism in particular.
New and old business:
--Resolutions: The president asked permission to try to go quickly through the resolutions that were likely to cause the least controversy, in order to leave time for more difficult issues, like ROTC. There was no objection.
Without discussion or dissent, the Senate approved the following resolutions by voice vote:
--Resolution to authorize summer powers (Executive Committee):
--Resolution to extend the life of the Committee on Online Learning and Digital Media Initiatives for one more year (Structure and Operations):
--Resolution to Establish a Joint J.D./M.P.H. Degree Between the Schools of Public Health and Law (Education)
--Resolution to approve renewable lectureships in the Arts and Sciences (Faculty Affairs): Sen. Duby, a member of Faculty Affairs, said there are some details in the proposal still to be worked out between Faculty Affairs and the administration. But the resolution can be acted upon as is. Without further discussion the Senate approved the resolution by voice vote without dissent.
--Resolution to Establish the M.S. in Fundraising Management in Nonprofit
Administration in the School of Continuing Education (Education): Sen. Bloch asked if advertising for the program has already begun, as with some other new degree programs. Frank Wolf, dean of the School of Continuing Education, said it has not. Without further discussion the Senate approved this resolution by voice vote, without dissent.
--Revised Resolution on Housing for the School of General Studies (Housing Policy): Sen. Duby explained that the Executive Committee had been presented with two resolutions on this subject for the present meeting, and had preferred the one now before the Senate.
Sen. William Harris (Ten., A&S/SS), chair of Housing Policy, presented the resolution, a revised version of a measure the Senate had tabled in March. The purpose remains the same, he said--to increase the sense of community among General Studies students by attempting to cluster them together in IRE housing to the extent possible. The resolution, particularly as revised, would do no harm to any other student population, a conclusion agreed upon after extensive committee discussions that have included Deputy Vice President for Institutional Real Estate William Scott.
Sen. David Bayer (Fac., Barn.) expressed concern that the clustering of student groups, as requested in the resolution, could lead to balkanization of university housing, at the expense of community diversity.
Sen. Harris took the point, but said that the larger student bodies—in the College and the Law School, for example—already have the sense of community provided by having distinctive places to live. The goal of the present resolution, he said, is to help GS students catch up somewhat, not to make them better off than students in those other schools.
Mr. Scott of IRE said his office can and will work on clustering GS students, or any other students that request it. It’s also true that some students don’t want to live just with students from their own school. So there is little risk of serious balkanization.
The president asked if the resolution was fundamentally hortatory. Sen. Harris said that was exactly right.
The Senate then approved the revised resolution by voice vote, without dissent.
--Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (Prof. Jeffrey Gordon, acting chair): Prof. Gordon said he had succeeded Merit Janow, who had been appointed to the appellate body of the World Trade Organization. He reminded the Senate that the committee was set up in 2000 with the approval of the Trustees to advise on the corporate and social responsibilities that confront the university as an investor, although final decisions reside with the Trustees. The committee itself is a representative one, with alumni, faculty, and students. So far the committee has focused on the question of how to vote Columbia’s shares on shareholder proposals covering a broad range of issues, from corporate governance and executive compensation issues that have been so salient in the newspapers to social responsibility issues more conventionally defined.
Last year, Prof. Gordon said, the committee took on many corporate governance issues, but chose to focus more this year on social responsibility issues, partly because Trustees seem to have their own views on corporate issues, and the committee saw its contribution there as limited.
Last fall the committee, as in previous years, held an open hearing, and met with experts on various issues. In the spring the committee makes recommendations on shareholder proposals. By the end of this year the committee will have considered some 120 proposals.
The committee has focused on political giving by corporations, as well as environmental and energy issues, global labor standards, drug pricing and access, and human rights. There have been a few proposals on weapon sales and proposals on executive compensation and the link to social criteria as well.
Prof. Gordon said the committee has so far considered some 60 proposals this year, and made recommendations on 54 of them. He says there is 95 percent agreement between these recommendations and Trustee decisions, a slight increase from last year.
Prof. Gordon said there’s been some tension between the committee and the Trustees about what the university might do beyond simply voting the proxies. For some on the committee, that’s a rather passive act. They would like, for example, to suggest improvements in poorly drafted resolutions with the right sentiments that might enable the committee to support the measure in the future, or to notify management in cases when Columbia has supported a relevant shareholder resolution. Can the advisory committee initiate a proposal itself? With the approval of the Trustees, can there be engagement with other groups outside the university? Prof. Gordon said the Trustees have encouraged small steps as it considers these possibilities.
There is serious concern among Trustees about having the university’s name involved in a public way, Prof. Gordon said. One Trustee has identified a real possibility of pushback by a corporation that feels it has been targeted by the university. Though cooperative with the committee on proxy votes, the Trustees have been very cautious about additional actions Columbia might take. Prof. Gordon said the next possible expansion of the committee’s role may be letters to proponents suggesting improvements in their resolutions.
The president thanked Prof. Gordon for his report.
--Resolution to recommend a new design for Columbia diplomas (Student Affairs): Sen. Ariel said the proposed new designs were displayed just outside the meeting room, but he was unable to project them onto the screen in the room. He said the symbolic importance of university diplomas is beyond dispute, as the number of students who voted on the new designs in a University-wide poll shows.
Sen. Ariel offered a brief history of university diplomas. In the beginning, 250 years ago, each diploma was hand made. As the university grew, diplomas changed. At one point 20 different faculty members signed each diploma for the School of the Mines. Now everything is computerized, and the University distributes thousands of diplomas each year.
A century ago the university moved to what has become the standard design, used still, with minor variations, by every Columbia school except Law and Medicine, which have both changed their designs in the last 20 years. The task force concerned itself only with the standard design.
The student caucus is recommending changes in the standard design for several reasons, including a significant number of student complaints. It set up a task force, met with the diploma vendor, came up with new designs, and finally conducted an online poll of all Columbia, Barnard and Teachers College students, including images of the proposed diploma designs, and displays of actual diploma designs at several locations.
The main changes proposed were to highlight several features, including the name and seal of the university, the name of the student, and the type of degree. These changes involved fonts, type sizes, centering, and an addition of color—Columbia blue.
In the online poll, 6,045 students voted, with 5,450 favoring a new design. Of these, 3,824, more than half of the total voting, preferred the design identified as Old English. Whichever new design they favored, the overall message was clear: students want a new diploma design.
The president asked what will happen to the diploma resolution. The Senate resolution supports a change in the design of the diploma. Wouldn’t the resolution then go to the administration, then the Trustees? He also asked about the issue of cost.
Sen. Ariel said students understood that the Trustees would have to make final decisions on the diploma design. He said the task force was told not to look into the issue of cost.
There was confusion about the content of the designs because not all senators had seen them.
Provost Brinkley said he had been following this issue closely and meeting with students. He said students have addressed this issue seriously.
The president noted the wording of the resolution—“that the Senate recommend these changes in the university diploma.” He said he had to make sure that the Senate was prepared to support such a specific recommendation.
Sen. Bradley Bloch (Alum.) said that, with all due respect to the initiative of the students, he thought the resolution is extraordinarily ill-advised. He spoke not just as a senator, but as someone who has professionally advised corporations and organizations for the last dozen years on corporate image management. The issue is not just a matter of cosmetics, he said, but of how the university presents itself to the outside world. Questions like these have to be addressed in a deliberate, systematic manner, Sen. Bloch said. He thought putting such a decision to a vote was fundamentally problematic, as was having the Senate essentially ratify the intent of this vote and pass it on to the Board of Trustees.
On the aesthetic issues, Sen. Bloch said the current diploma, plain as it may seem to some, is actually rather distinctive, with a proprietary type face. The proposed approach, asking a printer to make up some diplomas with new typefaces, is actually choosing something less distinctive, more generic.
The president suggested that the issue was important enough not to vote on at the present meeting. He said a group of Trustees and administrators is thinking carefully about the images and symbols of the university, and this proposal would fit naturally into that discussion. He suggested a sense of the Senate that this is an important matter to take up, to be diligently pursued with the Trustee group.
Mr. Walker, student caucus co-chair, said the goal of the task force all year has been a Senate vote, so that the proposal can be presented formally to the Trustees. That is not the same as asserting that the changes recommended will be the new design, but it would be a kind of mandate, a statement of policy.
The president said if the student caucus wants to vote, their motion to recommend certain changes in University diplomas should be voted on.
Someone asked what the changes are. The president said they are the changes presented by the student caucus. There was some confusion.
Sen. Ariel said the point of the resolution is to bring it to the Trustees as somehow officially endorsed by the Senate. He said the exact wording—whether to adopt these changes, or to recommend the consideration of these changes—is not that important.
The president added that it could come with an endorsement for serious consideration. Sen. Ariel regarded this amendment as friendly. The president said the amended version is that the Senate recommends that the administration and the Trustees seriously consider changes in the diplomas.
By voice vote, the Senate approved the amended resolution, with three nays.
--Proposal to return ROTC to the Columbia campus: Sen. Eugene Galanter (Ten., GSAS/NS), a member of the Executive Committee and a proponent, asked another proponent, Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.) to speak.
Sen. Adler said he was standing in for the two students who are the principal proponents: Sean Wilkes, president of Advocates for Columbia ROTC, and Jennifer Thorpe, president of Students United for America
Sen. Adler said the Reserve Officers Training Corps produces over sixty percent of all armed forces officers, with the rest supplied by the academies. The program provides courses on leadership, management, professional ethics, communications, energy planning and organization, crisis management and decisionmaking. Columbia housed a Naval training program starting soon after the U.S. entry into the First World War in 1917, and had an official Naval ROTC program starting in 1946, training thousands of officers for the U.S. Navy.
Sen. Adler said the ROTC program was expelled from the Columbia campus in 1969, an act designed to demonstrate the community’s aversion to the war in Vietnam after the student riots of 1968. Opponents of the program maintained that the presence of the military on campus violated the values of an academic institution. Many on campus, especially faculty, also objected to the appointment of military officers as professors, within what was then the department of naval science.
Sen. Adler said much has changed both for the ROTC and the university since 1969. In April 2003 the Columbia College Student Council at the request of student groups presented a referendum to gauge student opinion on ROTC. No fewer than 973 students, or 65 percent of the students participating, voted in favor. A claim by some student senators that the CCSC voted had been nullified was unfounded, according to Robert Wray, a member of the CCSC Committee on Elections, Nominations and Appointments at the time. He said CENA tallied the votes in what was a valid poll on ROTC. Sen. Adler said this means that two-thirds of the student body favor the reintroduction of ROTC.
Sen. Adler said faculty ROTC supporters believe that returning the program to Columbia would provide several benefits. Students in the program get full scholarships, which will enable many who would otherwise not be able to go to Columbia to actually get through school. ROTC at Columbia would also affirm the university’s dedication to producing national and world leaders, and would reinforce Columbia’s reputation for encouraging national service.
An ROTC program would also allow Columbia to regain influence in the armed forces establishment by educating higher-quality, better educated, and diverse leaders, Sen. Adler said. Officers with a Columbia taught perspective could bring tolerance, respect and global values to the military.
Sen. Adler identified some changes in ROTC since the 1960s. First, drill instruction has been significantly reduced, and can take place off campus. This gap in ROTC instruction has been filled in various ways: at MIT it was replaced with course work in physics and engineering; other universities added courses in international relations, geopolitics, world history or psychology.
A second major change has been the way in which universities recognize ROTC instructors. A major objection in ’69 on campus was that ROTC instructors were called professors. After a tug of war with the Defense Department, the universities won this point: they do not need to provide ROTC instructors with the title of professor unless they want to. At Princeton University, whose current program might serve as a model for Columbia, the erstwhile professor of military science is now given the academic title of instructor.
A third change is in the academic status of ROTC courses. Many universities have considered ROTC courses to be academically inferior to other course work. ROTC programs have intensified their academic rigor, but the fact is that Columbia could negotiate a contract that does not require the university to give academic credit for any ROTC courses.
The president said time was short, and suggested that Sen. Adler take questions
Sen. Adler asked to make one final point. He said the biggest objection to ROTC has been to the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on homosexuals in the military. He said most people in the Columbia community agree that anti-homosexual behavior in of any kind is simply wrong. But DADT is not just military policy, it is grounded in a Federal law (10USC654), which is binding on ROTC programs. Changing this will require new legislation, Sen. Adler said
Should Columbia bar ROTC from campus because it disapproves of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?
Supporters of the problem think not, Sen. Adler said. One reason is that gay students might find it in their interest overall to agree to abide by DADT because of the benefits of the program. If such people are willing to tolerate this injustice, he said, it should behoove us not to prevent them from doing so.
The president asked for questions. He left the meeting shortly thereafter.
In response to a question from Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., Hum.), Sen. Adler confirmed that some medical students are currently supported by scholarships that require them to go into the military. He added that students who accept their scholarship funding from the military are subject to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, for as long as they’re signed up for that program.
In that case, Sen. Silverstein said, Columbia already has settled the issue of principle about agreements of this kind with the military. Sen. Silverstein said this resembes the problem of being a little bit pregnant. Either Columbia can be involved with the military on the campus, or it cannot. The medical school is not separate from the rest of the university.
Sen. Adler agreed, but added that undergraduates on the main campus may not be willing to accept the same restrictions from the military that apply to the scholarship program at the medical school. ROTC, primarily for undergraduates, is also a different program.
Sen. Silverstein asked if ROTC would be for undergraduates only. Sen. Adler said that depends on the contract Columbia signs with the Department of Defense. The university can also choose among Air Force, Navy, Army or Marine ROTC programs. Columbia could choose a program that’s open to participation by anybody, in which Don’t Ask Don’t Tell does not apply to students who don’t sign up for the money or get a commission.
Sen. Silverstein asked if Sen Adler was saying that each school at the university could shape its own ROTC program. Sen. Adler said no, that there would be one ROTC program for the university, but he didn’t know what kind of program the Senate task force might recommend.
Sen. Ira Katznelson (Admin.) suggested postponing the important present discussion to an occasion when there was less time pressure. Sen. Adler said this problem was the president’s fault. ROTC was promised an early place on the agenda.
There was some uncertainty over whether a decision on ROTC was to be taken at the present meeting. Sen. Duby said the present discussion was for information only.
Mr. Walker, a co-chair of the newly formed ROTC Task Force, said that group will bring recommendations to the Senate next year. The purpose of the present discussion was to give the Task Force a preliminary sense of the Senate’s thinking.
Sen. Katznelson, noting that the Senate had lost its quorum, suggested adjourning. Sen. Duby, serving as chair after the president’s departure, called for a few more questions for Sen. Adler.
Mr. Walker said he felt empathy for students who have not been able to participate in ROTC. He also said groups facing discrimination have often been put in the position of tolerating injustice, of the kind Sen. Adler had outlined in his remarks on DADT. But he wondered if the university could prevent such a situation by taking the position in negotiations with the Department of Defense that it upholds the right of ROTC to be on campus, but not the Federal law containing the DADT policy.
Sen. Adler doubted that the university can commit to not obeying the law. He thought it could get congressional support, at least from the New York delegation, for a change in this law that provides full protection to all from discrimination, regardless of sexual preference. But there will be a cost. Sexual behavior in general—heterosexual as well as homosexual—is disruptive in the military, and military discipline requires some sanctions against it.
And the military itself has not fully come to grips with this problem, Sen. Adler said, because behavior that may not disrupt discipline in some military units, such as the medical corps, can be horrendously disruptive in the field, in the army or in airborne units, where Sen. Adler served. Under those conditions, he said, it makes no sense to tolerate any sort of deviation.
Senator-elect Emmanuelle Henry (Stu., Law) asked for clarification on whether an ROTC program would be only for Columbia College. Sen. Adler said that was the wording of the CCSC referendum of April 2003. Another senator said the task force will need to take more soundings of the sentiment of the College student body on ROTC.
Sen. Henry asked how a restored ROTC program would be affected by the Solomon Amendment. Sen. Adler did not know. He said lawyers will have to be involved in the negotiation of any contract with the Department of Defense.
Sen. Adler imagined that it would be possible to commit the president, in his absence, to a policy of equal protection for all regardless of sexual preference.
Sen. Litwak said the issue of freedom of speech and expression is central to the university. The inability of an individual to openly state his or her sexual preference is therefore a serious problem in a university setting.
Sen. Adler asked if a person could give up that right as a matter of contract, perhaps in exchange for payment.
Sen. Litwak said groups who would not be harmed by giving up such a right might willingly do so, but those who won’t benefit, who may be a minority, will not be willing to do that. He said that was an unacceptable state of affairs in a university. Turning to the question of medical school agreements with the military, he suggested that the University might want to revisit those agreements in the light of the problem of discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.
Sen. Silverstein said he had raised the question of the medical school program with the military precisely because Columbia has adopted it without debate.
Sen. Duby called for an end to the discussion. Sen. Adler objected that discussion of this issue had now been curtailed for the second time. If the issue is put at the end of the agenda, it can be postponed indefinitely.
Sen. Bayer suggested having openly gay activists join a Columbia ROTC program, then get thrown out when certain laws are enforced, and receive the full support of the community in that fight, including the guidance of Columbia lawyers. At the same time, Sen. Bayer said, there are good reasons to have ROTC on campus.
Sen. Bradley Bloch said it is important for the task force to learn the views of gay student organizations. Sen. Adler said he hoped that, given the law as it stands now, openly gay people will avoid the military, which is a discriminatory environment.
Sen. Duby asked permission for two law students who were not senators to speak. One of them, a former chair of a gay and lesbian student group at the Law School, said Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is not just an innocuous military policy allowing gays to decide whether or not to come out. Eighteen-year-olds who are considering tens of thousands of dollars of aid in exchange for joining the ROTC program are not in a good position to decide whether to hide their sexual preference for the term of their contract or to decline military service. The student said the question is whether Columbia wants to support an employer that has an extremely harmful policy both for people in the military and for students who are just beginning to come to terms with their lives.
--Commission on the Status of Women: Prof. Susan Sturm (Nonsen., Ten., Law), a co-chair of the Commission, said the group was involved in some discussions now with the president and the provost that may produce some exciting work next year. One important achievement this year was to break down the data in the group’s report on the academic pipeline for women to the departmental level, and meet with departmental chairs to talk about the patterns around gender in each of their departments. The Commission then met with the science chairs. It will meet with the social science chairs and the humanities chairs next year. Prof. Sturm encouraged senators to encourage their departments to follow up on these efforts.
Prof. Sturm was pleased to report that the provost’s salary equity committee is back at work and said the Commission is looking forward to seeing their results. She also called for supplementary resources—if needed—to enable that committee to complete the work they’re charged with doing each year.
Prof. Sturm said the new PeopleSoft program will be very useful for doing analyses around gender and also race, in studying patterns of utilization, promotion, retention, etc. The Commission was looking forward to phase 2 of PeopleSoft, which will involve tailoring the program to the needs of research on these issues.
Prof. Sturm concluded by announcing that the Commission will focus its attention next year on a crucial issue for all the constituencies it serves, namely child care.
--Research officers: Sen. Daniel Savin, a Research Scientist in Astrophysics and co-chair of the committee, said researchers have now completed their first full year with the expanded Senate representation of six voting seats that the Senate approved in November 2002 and with their own standing committee. Sen. Savin said the committee is now pursuing a goal that follows naturally from the expansion of Senate seats—expanded representation on Senate committees.
The group is also seeking better titles for professional research officers, who now have the titles of senior research scientist or scholar, research scientist or scholar, or associate research scientist or scholar. Sen. Savin said these people are supported primarily by research funds that they themselves have raised and brought to Columbia University, and some of them have been unable to get funding because the funding agencies don’t recognize someone as an independent researcher if they don’t have the word professor in their title. Sen. Savin said the committee will discuss this initiative with the Faculty Affairs Committee and also with the administration. One possible solution, he said, would be a title like research professor, associate research professor, assistant research professor. He said Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Penn, Duke, and Brown all have such titles. Sen. Savin said this initiative will require a good deal of discussion, but he said one consequence of new titles for researchers will be increases in research funds for the university.
Another committee concern has been the dilemma of how to write the next grant. Very often the time spent writing a grant proposal is time taken from a current grant, and there’s not always an overlap between those two projects. So there’s a concern that if the U.S. government were to audit the university, there could be severe financial consequences. Researchers want to discuss the possibility of providing non-grant funding for research officers, perhaps one week’s salary per grant proposal. Such a policy could protect the university.
Finally, Sen. Savin mentioned the need for termination notice for research officers. University rules currently do not require any notice for research officers terminated without cause. Principal investigators should have an idea when a grant will expire, and they should be under some obligation to inform their employees about this. Sen. Savin said the committee will pursue this idea with administrators.
Sen. Silverstein asked if the purpose of professorial titles for research officers is to disguise from the granting agency whether the scholar is a regular faculty member.
Sen. Savin said the purpose of the professorial title is to show that the scholar is an independent researcher; the title Columbia uses for these scholars, some variant of research scientist, is used in pharmaceutical companies and elsewhere in industry for entry-level positions.
Sen. Silverstein asked if there was evidence or research showing that researchers with different titles would have more success applying for grants. Sen. Savin said the answer would be found through a comparative study of sister institutions like Duke and Stanford.
Sen. Silverstein said that there were such special titles for research officers at Rockefeller Institute when he was there, and they didn’t seem to help. He said the problem is real, and needs action. But the action has to be effective, helping to ensure that grant applications are evaluated on the basis of the research involved, not on the basis of the title of the applicant. He said the data the researcher committee collects on this issue will be informative.
Sen. Savin said it would be difficult to get useful data, especially from funding agencies. He said there is anecdotal evidence from research officers whose rejection letters state that because the applicant did not have the word professor in his or her title, it was not clear whether he or she was an independent researcher.
Another senator said, from experience, that people on selection committees sometimes proceed on the assumption that someone who didn’t get a tenure-track appointment could not have been highly regarded by his or her institution.
The chairman adjourned the meeting shortly after 3:30 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff