Proposed: April 1, 2011
MEETING OF MARCH 4, 2011
President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 107 Jerome Greene. Fifty-eight of 101 senators were present, along with some 35 spectators.
Minutes and agenda. The minutes of February 11 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.
President’s report. The president said the community would be discussing some important issues during the next month. He called for respectful attention to the requirements of the deliberative process in that debate.
The president also made the following points:
--On February 7th the university officially passed the $4 billion mark in the current capital campaign. This was the largest campaign in Columbia’s history, and the second largest in the U.S. ever. The campaign had now been extended another two years, and the goal raised to $5 billion. This achievement represented an extraordinary breadth of commitment to the institution.
The president said the campaign counts forward pledges as well as actual dollars contributed each year. Ten years ago Columbia ranked somewhere between 10th and 20th in the country in fundraising, but it is now in the top five, trailing only Stanford and Harvard and sometimes another school or two that has a big year.
--The endowment return for last year was 17.3 percent. For the last five-to-eight-year period the average return for the Columbia endowment was the highest among endowments of $1 million or more. The president noted that Columbia’s endowment was significantly smaller than those of some peer institutions, but that gap had shrunk a bit because the recent recession had hurt Columbia’s richer peers more than it had hurt Columbia.
Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) raised a point of order, asking who was videotaping the current proceedings.
The secretary said he had allowed the person to film. He understood the person with a camera to be a student doing a project for a class in the School of the Arts.
The president asked for the Senate’s policies on videotaping, and then conferred with Executive Committee chair Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA).
Sen. Lydia Goehr (Ten., A&S/Hum) asked that the camera be removed.
The president summarized the policy as follows: Columbia press are allowed in the Senate; outside press are not. People are sometimes allowed to film with permission, which in this case had been granted by the secretary.
The president briefly questioned the student with the video camera, learning that he was a GS student taking a documentary class in the School of the Arts.
Sen. Liya Yu asked whether the student with the camera was planning to freelance the film after producing it. The student said he was not, and the film was for a class. He said he would sign a statement to that effect.
The president said the process or policy for cases like this needed some work, but suggested that the Senate let this case go, unless there were strong objections.
After rereading a passage in the Senate by-laws, the president summarized the policy as allowing campus print press and other campus media, unless a meeting was designated closed. But the policy did not seem to rule on other situations. He repeated his suggestion to allow the camera in this instance.
Sen. Robert Pollack suggested that since the process was obscure, the Senate should simply decide whether it wanted the present meeting to be open or closed.
The president asked that the camera be turned off while the Senate discussed this issue. He said there was a motion not to allow videotaping of this meeting. There was a second.
Sen. Ron Mazor (Stu., Law) said that on the issue of ROTC and on the issue of how the Senate portrays itself, he thought it made sense to be open, and not to exaggerate the significance of this camera. The ROTC task force had finished its work, which included open hearings. He said the group could honestly say that at this point that there was nothing to hide. He said closing the meeting to this student would do far more harm than good.
Sen. Jose Robledo (Stu., GS) noted that the student was involved in an approved class project, which was a matter of academic freedom.
Sen. Rebecca Jordan-Young (Fac., Barnard) noted that there had been complaints at the hearing she had attended that parts of the deliberative process of the task force had been opaque. Such sensitivity would make her inclined to err on the side of being more rather than less open.
Sen. Tao Tan (Stu., Bus.) called the question. He repeated his motion. There was a second.
The president asked for a voice vote, then judged that the Senate had voted to close debate.
The Senate then voted 43-7, by show of hands, to allow the filming in this case.
The president said it was important for the student with the camera to affirm that the film project was for a class. He did.
The secretary noted a second mishap in preparations for the present meeting: There were no microphones at the tables at the front of the room. The secretary asked the people at the front of the room to speak a little louder than usual.
Executive Committee chair’s report. Sen. O’Halloran offered the following updates:
--Fringe benefits. The administration task force on fringe benefits had met that morning, and was working toward a balanced proposal. The current plan was to present recommendations to the university community during the next month, then to work on them some more, with a view to having new policies by the end of the academic year.
--Conflict of interest policy. The April 2009 Senate enacting a new university policy on conflict of interest and research had called for a two-year review of the policy, which was now due. A newly formed ad hoc review committee had three main objectives: to see whether the current policy was working; to assess the impact on the policy of new NIH regulations; and to see if the policy was robust enough to handle a number of new challenges. In addition, as part of the education process for the Senate on related issues, there would be a screening of the documentary film “Inside Job” on March 25 [later rescheduled to April 15] for Senate members and some invited guests, followed by a discussion with the film’s director, Charles Ferguson.
Sen. Savin said the policy on conflict of interest and research applies to officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, students and staff members, but the roster of the ad hoc committee had only faculty and university lawyers. Sen. Savin proposed that one representative of each of the other constituencies be added to the roster.
Sen. O’Halloran asked Sen. Savin to follow up with her on this point, and she would look for a way to accommodate his suggestion.
--Smoking policy. Sen. O’Halloran invited Sen. Mark Cohen (NT., Bus.) to speak. He summarized the recent history of this issue, including the December 3 Senate vote to adopt a policy allowing smoking to take place no closer than 20 feet from all campus buildings. An amendment offered at that meeting would have replaced the 20-foot restriction with a total smoking ban, but was tabled. But a straw poll was taken, in which a sizable majority favored the idea of an outright ban.
A ruling by the parliamentarian allowed Sen. Cohen to ask at the February 11 plenary for a vote to untable the amendment for an outright ban that Sen. Cohen had offered on December 3. A majority supported Sen. Cohen, who proposed then to bring his proposal for a Morningside smoking ban to the next (the present) Senate meeting. But that proposal was not on the present agenda, he said, because it had not yet been formally drafted. Before taking that step, he wanted to have more dialogue with the administration, and he and fellow Executive Committee member Alex Frouman (Stu., CC) would be meeting in the coming week with VP for Student and Administrative Services Scott Wright.
Sen. Cohen wanted to give the Senate advance notice of his intentions, and to allow for more discussion. He was therefore withdrawing his motion at this time, to enable a proposal for an outright ban to be drafted and presented for consideration, discussion and vote at the April 1 or April 29 Senate plenary.
Sen. Cohen concluded by noting that since the December Senate plenary, the City University of New York had banned smoking on all its campuses, and New York City had recently banned smoking in all parks and in major public areas.
Sen. Scott Saverance (Stu., SIPA) noted some confusion about the parliamentary procedure around Sen. Cohen’s motion, and asked for clarification of the meaning of the decision to withdraw the motion.
Howard Jacobson, the parliamentarian, said he had suggested this course to Sen. Cohen because he wasn’t ready to present his proposal at the present meeting, and it was not on the agenda. Mr. Jacobson said people should be notified of a significant proposal like this enough in advance so they can decide whether to attend this meeting and vote on it. But the suggestion to withdraw the motion for now would enable Sen. Cohen to provide sufficient notice for one of the remaining meetings.
--Task Force on Military Engagement. Introducing the task force co-chairs, Sen. O’Halloran thanked the group for its extraordinary work. She offered a brief timeline of the work still to be done. The task force report had been distributed to each of the Senate committees on time, as promised. At the present meeting the task force would present an executive summary, and a fact sheet. The report would then be discussed in committees, and there would be a full presentation at the April 1 plenary, with a resolution for discussion and a vote on either April 1 or April 29.
Co-chair Ron Mazor thanked task force members by name: Sens. Julia Hirschberg (Ten., SEAS), James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS), GS Dean Peter Awn (Admin.), Mollie Finkel (Stu., Nursing), Alex Frouman (Stu., CC), Scott Saverance, Tim Qin (Stu., SEAS), He also introduced his co-chair, Roosevelt Montas (Associate Dean for the Core Curriculum, Columbia College).
Dean Montas also thanked the task force. He said the group’s mandate had been to listen, and it had heard a number of passionate opinions. The task force also encountered media attention, mostly negative and, perhaps unsurprisingly, sensationally distorted. Despite this, the main characteristics of the process were civility and passionate intelligence.
Dean Montas said the task force recommendations were mild. He added that it was now time for the Senate to revisit the issue of ROTC on campus, not as a question of whether to establish a program next year, but of how the Columbia community should define its relationship to this military officer training program.
Dean Montas said that the last major Senate debate on ROTC, in 2005, focused on the conviction that the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy violated the university’s non-discriminatory policy, and that Columbia should therefore not seek to re-establish a relationship with ROTC at that time. Now, with the repeal of DADT (though the repeal had not yet been implemented), the task force believed that the Senate should begin serious deliberations on the possible return of ROTC.
Dean Montas said the creation of the task force itself was a first step in of this deliberative process.
Besides taking soundings of campus opinion with three hearings, the task force conducted an opinion survey of students in Columbia College, General Studies, Barnard College, Engineering, and SIPA—the five schools whose students had participated in off-campus ROTC programs in the last five years. Many people thought the survey was a vote; it was not. Many people who were not surveyed complained and asked to be surveyed. But it was not practically possible to open the poll to the entire Columbia community given the time constraints the task force faced.
Dean Montas said 2,252 students took the survey, 19 percent of the 11,269 who were eligible. The prevailing opinion was unambiguous: 60 percent approved of bringing ROTC back to campus, while 33 percent disapproved—a nearly two-to-one margin. To the question of whether Columbia should allow students to participate in ROTC on or off campus, 79 percent answered affirmatively, with only 13 percent against.
On the basis of these findings, Dean Montas said, the task force was calling on the Senate to review the university’s relationship with the ROTC program. This includes the terms under which ROTC left campus 40 years ago, a set of conditions articulated in 1969 and reaffirmed in 1976 and in 2005, and which now need to be revisited. As the report showed, these conditions have been largely met by the military at peer institutions.
Dean Montas said that whether or not the present deliberative process leads to an ROTC program at Columbia, it was time to clarify where Columbia stands on that issue after the repeal of DADT. This was the clearest message to emerge from the work of this task force, Dean Montas said. The senate should initiate action on this issue without delay.
Sen. Mazor then reviewed the contents of the report, including an overview of the deliberative process touching on the hearings, the open submission policy, the survey, and the website. The report also offered a neutral summary of opinions and arguments, drawn from the e-mails and hearings, as well as some interesting and useful addenda, such as an in-depth look at the survey results, breaking the issues down by school and by bar graphs as well as data tables for figures.
The report also offered a history of ROTC on campus and of military engagement, almost from the founding of the institution to the present, and touching on the Senate’s handling of ROTC over the years, including the 1969 Mansfield report, the 1976 Tien report, and the 2005 task force report. There was also a statement of the shared findings of the task force. The report also included the full transcripts of the three hearings, as well as the full record of the email submissions.
The president stated his understanding that the present meeting would be devoted to presentation and discussion just of the report.
Sen. Bette Gordon (NT, Arts) expressed uncertainty about whether the task force was simply gathering information or taking a position. If it was taking a position, then the issue of the original composition of the task force should be addressed, along with positions some members had already taken.
Sen. Mazor said every past task force or committee that has dealt with ROTC has stated some conclusions. Mansfield (1969) had a majority statement, along with a number of minority statements. Tien (1976) had a statement, and 2005 had a majority statement along with individual statements. The present task force saw itself as the heir of its predecessors, Sen. Mazor said.
At the same time, the present task force was very much aware of its charge to facilitate discussion, and to assure the Senate’s ability to discuss the issues openly and freely. Sen. Mazor said that in stating the points on which it agreed unanimously, the task force was clear that it was not trying to resolve these issues for the Senate.
Sen. Liya Yu (Stu., GSAS/SS) raised three questions about the wording of questions in the student survey:
1. Question 2 asked if students approved of allowing participation in ROTC on or off campus. Some might answer this in such a way as to allow people a choice, but might still not want ROTC on campus.
2. Question 6 asked students whether they believed military engagement on campus would increase intellectual diversity on campus. They could answer yes, thinking of the increased veteran population on campus as enhancing diversity, without wanting ROTC on campus.
3. Question 7 asked whether a program producing more Columbia-educated officers would be a positive development. Again, someone could answer that question positively and still not want an ROTC program on campus.
Sen. Mazor said the task force did not analyze the survey results, and recognized that positive answers to some questions could be compatible with views of people opposed to ROTC on campus. He said the answers in general did not provide definitive statements of what people thought on ROTC. Questions on military engagement were meant to measure just that—sentiment on military engagement apart from ROTC.
Dean Montas added that the task force was very clear not to construe to the question of allowing ROTC on or off campus as the same as the question of allowing ROTC on campus.
Sen. Goehr said the word “participation,” which figured prominently in some questions, was ambiguous between two different questions, which could result in two very different answers. She said it’s one thing to vote in favor or against the presence of a group on campus. Many groups on campus play educational roles, but not official roles in the curriculum. But ROTC does have an official place in the curriculum. She said the survey questions did not account for that large difference.
Sen. Mazor said “participation” was chosen to capture the involvement of Columbia students at off-campus ROTC programs at Fordham or Manhattan College. He also acknowledged that the task force’s efforts to find wording that was not slanted toward a particular viewpoint were always open to challenge and debate. He invited senators to raise issues of this kind when it came time to debate a resolution involving ROTC.
Sen. Pollack asked about the section of the report on ROTC at peer institutions. He noted that only two of the eight schools listed seemed to offer on-campus, full-credit programs of any sort, and one of those was just for physical education credit. The others don’t seem to have a for-credit program on their campus for the ROTC program they have. Speaking for a moment as co-chair of Faculty Affairs, Sen. Pollack asked how it came about that there were so few ROTC faculty. He also asked which of these schools lost their ROTC programs when Columbia did, and which kept them straight through.
Sen. Mazor said the task force report was focused on Columbia, and did not make extensive comparisons with other schools. But he said Columbia was not alone in affirming academic conditions for allowing ROTC to remain on campus during the Vietnam War era. Some peers reached similar conclusions, establishing rules that the service branches could not observe.
Sen. Pollack said Cornell seemed to be the only peer school whose ROTC program has an academic component. All the others seem to fudge this issue. He said Columbia has to consider what it would mean to bring ROTC back, when most of the peers that have ROTC programs don’t have faculty teaching the ROTC courses. He asked how the task force interpreted this fact.
Sen. Mazor said the task force had included what it thought was relevant for senators to have some context about peer institutions. The task force wanted to provide senators with information, not opinions.
Dean Montas added that since the Mansfield report of 1969, it had always been clear that academic appointments and course credit must remain under complete control of the faculty of Columbia, and never under ROTC or the military. Every subsequent discussion of this theme had retained this idea as an assumption or premise.
Sen. Mazor added that the Senate had affirmed its authority to set university policy on ROTC in past reports and resolutions. He said the Senate had discretion to do what it sees fit on ROTC, and could amend the guidelines on ROTC if it chose.
Sen. Jordan-Young said most of the schools listed in the report, like Columbia now, don’t have on-campus programs. Her understanding was that Cornell, Penn, Princeton, and Dartmouth had on-campus programs, though the report did not have Dartmouth in that category. She thought the report was at variance with the Advocates for ROTC chart on this point. So Brown, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia do not have on-campus programs, and neither does Stanford. So there is a mixture of on- and off-campus programs.
Sen. Mazor said the task force gave out its facts, and stood by them.
Sen. Jordan-Young identified another issue that she said was not addressed in the task force report. At one of the hearings, she had read aloud a passage from the current law defining ROTC, which says that the commanding officer of an ROTC program must be appointed at the rank of professor to a university that has a sponsored ROTC program on campus. The law also says that that university must accept either a two-year or a four-year ROTC program as part of their curriculum. Sen. Jordan-Young said this requirement should be addressed in the report, perhaps with the observation that there is some fudging on it, and the military is not actually enforcing these provisions at some institutions. But she added that it was important to be aware of the actual content of the law as the Senate deliberates on ROTC.
Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS) identified himself as a member of the task force and a co-chair of the 2005 task force. He said the 1969 Mansfield report set academic conditions for a Columbia ROTC program requiring all courses and appointments to be controlled by Columbia faculties. Sen. Applegate said the Navy’s inability to accept these conditions in 1969 led them to leave Columbia. But he remained puzzled that branches of the Armed Services accepted similar conditions at some peer institutions. At Princeton, for example, a relationship evolved in which ROTC courses carried no credit—that is, in which ROTC functioned essentially as an extracurricular activity. ...conditions in 1969 led them to leave Columbia. The law in question,
the ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964, requires that the commanding officer have a faculty appointment at the rank of professor or the equivalent. This requirement has been satisfied with adjunct appointments at peer institutions. The law does not require that academic credit be given
for ROTC courses, and most of our peer schools do not award credit. The law is confusing because the language is archaic, but the important point is that the implementation of the law at peer institutions is consistent with the Mansfield conditions.
Sen. Robledo asked how the task force evaluated statistical claims pro and con that were made at the three hearings.
Sen. Mazor said the hearings were captured in transcripts, without extensive fact checking or editing. The task force report did not depend on specific quantitative claims made at hearings or in emails. It tried instead to summarize in broad strokes the arguments and issues raised.
Sen. Mark Cohen (NT, Bus.) said it would help to have a fact sheet showing what the ROTC program at Columbia prior to 1969 was actually like—number of students enrolled, composition of the ROTC faculty, the actual ROTC curriculum. He said it would also be helpful to know what specifically constitutes ROTC at peer institutions today. What is their actual program? Most important, Sen. Cohen thought, was the question of what the university’s prospective position would be if it chose to bring ROTC back.
Sen. Mazor said the full report had more detail on ROTC programs at other schools than was contained in the summary, with a paragraph on actual programs. As for Sen. Cohen’s last question, Sen. Mazor said that was beyond the purview of the task force.
Dean Montas added that some people seemed to think the university could simply invite ROTC back and they would come, as it if were entirely Columbia’s decision. But this was a mistake. Columbia could specify the conditions under which it would accept an ROTC program, but then it would be up to the military to decide whether it wanted to take that path.
A nonsenator asked to speak. The president said the request required unanimous consent. The president asked the Senate to vote by show of hands, and determined that the vote was not unanimous. He concluded that consent was denied.
Sen. Silverstein asked if Sen. O’Halloran had explained why the full task force report was not before the Senate.
Sen. O’Halloran said the report was now going to each of the committees. The staff member said the report would be sent to all committees by the end of the day. He said a separate mailing would have to be done for senators not on committees.
Sen. Silverstein said the Senate would not make decisions at the present meeting. He said it would be helpful for senators to indicate, as some already had, what additional information was needed. He said the question of ROTC was clearly a moving target throughout the United States. He said the Senate would ultimately be asking the university to make a positive or negative statement, but would not ask the university to implement a specific type of ROTC. He asked the president and the task force whether this was the general direction of deliberations.
The president said the ROTC issue had stirred the interest of the community, and it was important for the community to have a sustained, serious, factually based discussion about it. He said the Senate was the body to hold that discussion, though he thought the conversation should include other groups, particularly the Council of Deans. The president said these deliberations should provide a sense of community sentiment, and then the administration would seek a way to achieve an appropriate result.
The president said that if there were a negative vote in the Senate, that would mean one set of outcomes. But if there were a positive vote, he thought the conditions would be fairly clear by the end of the discussion. He added that he thought those conditions would be acceptable to at least one branch of the Armed Forces.
The president invited Sen. Applegate to comment.
Sen. Applegate expected any Senate action to include the conditions that accompanied the unsuccessful 2005 resolution to bring back ROTC: the Columbia faculty, through its committees on instruction, would approve all courses and faculty appointments.
Sen. Mazor added that the task force as a whole felt that any return of ROTC should take place on Columbia’s terms.
Sen. Helene de Aguilar (NT, A&S/Hum) said it might be harder than expected to establish those conditions. She recently learned that an order had gone out to ROTC instructors at one campus that their students were under no circumstances allowed to cite or quote or refer to any information released by Wikileaks. It struck Sen. Aguilar as problematic for Columbia to allow a separate institution to create an internal system of censorship that the university would be implicitly or explicitly endorsing. She understood the issue was complex, but said it would not be solved simply by controlling job titles and courses.
The president understood that the task force had anticipated this issue.
Sen. Applegate said ROTC cadets taking classes at Columbia would not be military officers but students, with all the relevant rights and responsibilities.
Sen. Robledo said a similar situation had arisen in a SIPA course in which the instructor said that it was strongly recommended that students not use Wikileaks material in their research because it might hurt their chances of getting security clearance in the future. Sen. Robledo said he thought the current order of business was to ask questions about the report, and not about how an ROTC program would be implemented.
The president invited one more comment.
Sen. Daniel Libby asked if a ROTC program at Columbia would include just classroom work, or would it be a more visible presence on campus, with drills and other activities.
The president said questions like this would be subject to discussion.
Sen. Gordon appreciated the president’s comments about engaging the university community, and his statement that much of the discussion would take place within the Senate. She asked how her colleagues would get a chance to weigh in. Some were at the present meeting, and wouldn’t be able to speak. She asked for a meeting where all faculty could have a debate. She said the three February hearings were not designed for debate, but for brief individual statements.
Sen. Mazor responded that the hearings were not meant to be debates, but a way for individuals to express their opinions other than by e-mail. As it turned out, there was not enough time to accommodate all speakers. He urged all senators to use their freedom to speak to their constituents and hold whatever debates they saw fit to hold.
Sen. Gordon said more discussion was needed.
Sen. O’Halloran said the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies would hold a discussion at 12:15 pm on March 8, where four faculty panelists would hold a debate about ROTC.
Sen. Goehr asked if, after March 8, the faculty could also organize its own debate on this subject. .
Sen. O’Halloran said one possibility was for the Senate faculty caucus to invite faculty outside the Senate to discuss ROTC. Another was to invite the Arts and Sciences faculty, through its Planning and Policy Committee, to organize a discussion.
The president thanked the task force for its work, and adjourned the meeting before 2:30 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff