MORE EMAILS TO THE SENATE ROTC TASK FORCE
84. Dear Task
I had an email conversation with the Special Council to the President of Teachers College and she gave me some history on why the Boy Scouts was recently removed from campus.
"The removal of the Boy Scout was a long detailed process. The [Committee on Community and Diversity] recommended the removal to the president (after several complaints were brought) on the grounds that they violated TC's non-discrimination policy. The president made the decision. CCD spent time reviewing the matter and attempting to negotiate with the Boy Scout troop leader to no avail. Since they met at TC they had a charter with TC at the time."
Nathan C. Walker
85. Members of the senate committee on re-establish[ing] ROTC,
unable to make the town-hall meeting, but would like to express my
whole-hearted support for re-establishing ROTC at Columbia.
While the years surrounding the program's disestablishment were certainly divisive ones for the country and the university, the campus is not roiled by such passions today nor do we have a draft military. There is no reason to expect that a renewed ROTC program would plunge the campus into distracting feuds, but rather it would restore balance and equanimity to the university's broad approach to student outlooks and careers.
Re-establishing ROTC would give those students who freely chose a life of service in the
In the words of Nick Rosenthal in the Feb. 16 Spectator article:
....[I] do not wish to see our school assisting the
accepting ROTC on campus,
One of the main reasons for bringing ROTC back to
87. To the Task
As you may be aware, there was a debate held on Friday [March 4] at Teachers College regarding the proposal to bring ROTC to Columbia and what action the TC Student Senate ought to take in this regard. Though I have already written the Task Force at length, I hope you will permit me a few more moments of your time in order to present some new information which I found useful for Friday's debate, and which Nate Walker has asked me to forward on to you.
a persistent claim from advocates of ROTC that the ROTC coursework may be
interest to students not taking part in the ROTC program, and a suggestion that
the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy might be partially overcome by
permitting gay, lesbian, and bisexual students to participate ROTC courses.
ROTC advocates often claim that the courses might deal with military history,
or other topics of general interest. A quick review of the ROTC course catalogs
at Fordham, MIT, and
A related, oft-repeated claim is that military experience is widely valued by civilian employers. Anecdotally, in my own field of Computer Science, this is generally untrue, as most military systems are programmed in a language called Ada, which is perhaps most famous for making programmers forced to use it quake in fear and disgust. Five years of experience in practically anything else would be preferred by most employers to five years of experience in
I assume that the committee has already looked at the texts of
The MIT ROTC Task Force, evaluating whether their attempts to bring that school's ROTC program into compliance with its non-discrimination policy, wrote in 1996: "[T]he Task Force is unanimous on the question of adequacy: there has not been adequate progress toward the elimination of the DOD policy on sexual orientation." It seems unlikely that
And, briefly, an update on something I touched upon in my previous letter. Since I last wrote, Camilo Mejia was released from prison after serving nine months for "desertion" after the military declined to recognize his plea for "conscientious objector" status.
I thank the committee, as always, for its hard work on this issue, and look forward to seeing the forthcoming report.
 Angrist, Joshua D., "Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants to Estimate the Effect of Voluntary Military Service on Earnings." National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper #5192, July 1995. Online at http://ssrn.com/abstract=225255 free to holders of
 Public Law 103-160, available online at http://dont.stanford.edu/regulations/pl103-60.pdf
88. Dear members of the forum,
As a foreign Fulbright student my contribution is as follows: Having read into the history of Columbia University, and the role its students played during several wars, such as the Revolutionary war, the Civil war and most notably the First and Second World Wars, I was hoping that a link between the armed forces and Columbia students would be something finally relegated to the past. In my view, one's political convictions can, and should be, debated on campus, but actual involvement in a taskforce is a personal matter. I believe in Academic freedom, and support it, and therefore see great value in the concerns of students in the sixties that government research contracts (which results potentially could be used in the Vietnam war), as well as taskforces, ideally have no place in an academic environment. After all, academic research and endeavors are meant to benefit all humankind, not just the people of the
89. February 25
Please be advised that there are two myopic and disturbing letters to the editor appearing in the Friday, February 25 Spectator in support of ROTC. They deserve your immediate consideration. One letter is written by a former GS student, Shane Hachey, who is now pursuing a Law Degree at Harvard. In his letter, "Free to Be You and Me," Mr. Hachey identifies himself as an ex-ROCT cadet, and a black male. I wonder if he would espouse such illusory views of the ROTC if he were denied access the military because he is Black. Likewise, would the Spectator continue running editorials in support of institutions that ban minorities, or women, or Jews? If not, then why is it acceptable to run such unbalanced letters, let alone two concomitantly, supporting an organization that prohibits access to Gays and Lesbians? Are Homosexuals considered somehow less at
Its' homophobia, derived from ignorance, can not be overcome by the woven spin of an ex-military student.
Mr. Hachey righteously points out the opportunities that the military provided him. But at whose expense? Is he aware that Gay tax dollars assisted in funding these opportunities? Is he aware that such opportunities are systematically denied to millions of Americans simply because they are Gay? How ironic that Mr. Hachey takes Gay money with one hand, while slamming the door of opportunity in the face of Gays with the other. Now he wishes to shove this hypocrisy upon the
It is sad indeed that our society allots over one thousand rights and privileges to heterosexuals that are denied to homosexuals. From marriage to the military, Gay Americans remain second class citizens. However, it is outrageous that an academic institution such as
For this reason I implore this administration to stand resolve in supporting
No Mr. Hachey, we are not "Free to Be You and Me." We are not free because Gay Americans are not afforded the same freedoms, rights, and privileges as you. I sincerely hope you utilize your Harvard Law Degree in mitigating the problem of discrimination. We need bright minds like yours. However, as long as you continue to serve as a mouthpiece for the military, you are the problem.
President Bollinger’s response:
Dear Mr. Farinella,
Thank you for your recent letter regarding The Columbia Alliance for ROTC. This is an important issue and I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this matter.
As you know the University Senate has established a Task
Force on ROTC, co-chaired by Dr.
The Task Force held a Town Hall meeting on
In the Spring, after a thoughtful analysis of these views has been conducted, the Task Force will report its findings to the full Senate. This report will consider a host of questions and responses, and will afford the University a careful examination of the matter and will also provide
Again, thank you for contacting me. I appreciate your interest.
Lee C. Bollinger
Mr. Farinella’s rejoinder:
for your response regarding ROTC at
I sincerely hope you stand strong in the face of discrimination and uphold the policies of this school.
To the Editor:
In his opinion article, ("The Myth of Anti-Military Bias," Feb. 13, 2003) Merlin Chowkwanyun posits that anti-military bias and sentiment at Columbia is a myth. Curiously, he displays the bias he claims doesn't exist when he labels the reasoned arguments promulgated by groups that support the restoration of ROTC as "fanatical claims and myopic and ignorant analysis." Chowkwanyun would do well to enroll in a course in rhetoric: it's generally not a good idea to prove your opponent's claims in the first paragraph of your essay. I won't offend the refined sensibilities of Spectator readers by chronicling the examples of mean-spirited name-calling on display throughout the piece.
I do not claim to be unbiased on the ROTC issue. I was formerly a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, serving during the period immediately following the Vietnam War. Joining the military (voluntarily!) was a bit unusual at that time and America had a rather jaded view of its men and women in uniform. The world was different then. America was different then. Columbia was different then. And Sept. 11, 2001, was more than 25 years in the future.
Although times have changed, some members of the Columbia community seem to be stuck in a time warp. Does anyone really doubt the need for young Americans to serve in the defense of our country? Their call to duty should be supported, not ridiculed.
For the past 30 years or so, Columbia has been derelict in its responsibilities to the citizens of the United States. Columbia has been a freedom freeloader: the institution enjoys the freedom that the military safeguards but rejects the notion of assisting in the training of the military's officer corps.
In essence, if not fact, Columbia has inverted the sentiment expressed in President Kennedy's inaugural address. For Columbia, then, perhaps Kennedy should have said, "Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your country can do for you." Isn't it about time for Columbia to do its part?
Sult, TC '03
91. Dear ROTC task force,
I have included links to the two contemporary staff editorials denoting the Columbia Spectator's position on the ROTC debate, for entry in the ROTC task force's record. I believe the
While a good number of student opinion columns and letters about the ROTC issue have appeared in the Columbia Spectator over the last 3 years, I feel the staff editorials are of especial significance given the Columbia Spectator's historical (if at times controversial) role representing the predominant 'voice' of Columbia's student community.
STAFF EDITORIAL: ROTC: Return
(Exclusion is not acceptable)
STAFF EDITORIAL: Bring Back ROTC
(There's a lot we don't like about ROTC. That's why we
want it back.)
92. Dear Task Force,
I am writing to express my position of opposition to creating an ROTC chapter at
It is known by victims of war that as a method of resolving conflict, war is highly damaging to all involved. The state of our modern technology is so impressive that it is sad that we still have not, as a nation, found an effective way to address global conflict without creating so much needless destruction and violence. This guilt lies largely on the backs of our institutions of higher education, which have advanced knowledge and technology to incredible new levels in many fields, but have failed to tackle the challenging but important question of how we can create global justice in times of crisis without resorting so quickly to killing thousands of innocent people. At this excellent institution, using the brilliance of our minds together, I suggest that we create programs that advance such studies in peaceful conflict resolution.
At the very least, if we have an ROTC program on campus, we really ought to install an equally funded and supported program for the study of peace. Otherwise, we would be offering the not-so-subtle message that we have given up hope in our intellectual and creative capacity to create a peaceful world. We would deny the value of love of social civility and tolerance that one would hope an effective higher education might instill in scholars.
Certainly, many students benefit from the ROTC program, particularly students who could otherwise not afford the ridiculous cost of attending an Ivy League school. However, our educated minds ought to not stop thinking at this point. We are certainly capable of understanding that a larger issue is involved here—the promotion of a program that feeds war rather than peace. Our university would be the bait to lure our fellow young men and women into a risky servitude to the most violent branch of our federal government. There are other ways to fund an education. We have the creative capacity to find them.
I do not think that ROTC should
be brought back to
93. To the ROTC Task Force of
attended the town hall meeting on February 15th, and I greatly appreciated the
opportunity to hear a wide range of responses to the proposal to reinstate ROTC
Though there were a number of compelling arguments made on both sides of this debate, there remains at least one fundamental problem with the proposal which, though brought up by many, the Task Force itself has not addressed sufficiently in either the written proposal or through the responses given by Task Force members at the February forum.
This problem is the fact that the endorsement of an ROTC program would be an endorsement (however tacit) by
The University makes clear its policy of non-discrimination in the Student Handbook (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/facets/), stating that Columbia University “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national and ethnic origin, age, religion, or other legally protected status in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other University-administered programs.” The statement goes on to elaborate that legally protected statuses include sexual orientation, as well as disability, marital status, and status as a
It is undeniable that a program such as ROTC, which explicitly prohibits gay, lesbian and bisexual students from participating, and which discharges (and potentially demands repayment from) anyone who discovers or becomes open about the fact that they are gay while in the program, violates both the spirit and letter of this non-discrimination policy.
It is also upsetting that although in the written Student Proposal there is a small section devoted to addressing this very problem, this section, in fact, does not actually explain how
The proposal also states that DADT does not prevent participation by gay and lesbian students, that “it only prevents them from receiving scholarships and being commissioned”. Not only is this an absurd understanding of discrimination (and the proposal seems to consider this an acceptable form of bigotry), but it is also blatantly hypocritical in its tone which suggests that the loss of these privileges is "no big deal". In fact, many of the arguments I heard on Feb. 15th in favor of this proposal were based on the merits of ROTC’s scholarship program. If the financial component of ROTC is so important (as I agree that it is), and if it truly is designed to cultivate diversity, then it should not exclude qualified gay and lesbian students, just as it should not exclude qualified Asian-American, female, or Jewish students solely on the basis of their identities.
clear that the ROTC policy of exclusion of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students
is in direct conflict with
It is the responsibility of the University Senate to uphold this commitment and make a clear statement that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – like discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or religion – will not be tolerated in our community. There is no other acceptable statement to be made.
Thank you so much for your time and your thoughtful consideration of these issues.
Original Message -----
From: Nathan C. Walker
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2005 11:04 PM
Subject: ROTC Task Force - invite to March 25th meeting
We want to thank you for speaking at the Town Hall meeting regarding the potential return of ROTC on campus. The Task Force would like to know more about your story and have many questions about how DADT is implemented. Would you be able to join us at our next meeting? We plan to gather at on Friday, March 25th in room 407 Low Library.
Please let us know if you are able and willing to attend.
To: Nathan C. Walker
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2005 9:36 PM
Subject: Re: ROTC Task Force - invite to March 25th meeting
I apologize for the delay in reply; I was away on spring break and am now just checking the mountain of email.
Since I will be working on Friday, I will not be able to make the meeting, although I would love to be there.
As honored as I would be to teach about my experience about Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, I don't think it will inform anyone beyond what they already know: If you're gay you will be kicked out of the military if they find out, and given the intimacy of much of military life, it is likely that they will find out eventually. You will be stripped of everything, including rank, veteran status, G.I. Bill, etc. None of this, of course, has to do with performance. In fact many people who are kicked out under DADTDP are stellar service people in very high programs (for example I was in the Navy's most elite program working on Nuclear Power - not to brag, just to prove the point). DADTDP has everything to do with blatant discrimination on pure identity alone, not behavior or performance.
Ultimately I believe that my story is a mere personal aside and is a distraction from the main argument that seems to be lost in this ROTC debate:
I hope that this is helpful and I apologize for any confusions caused by haste - I'm in the middle of getting the rest of the semester off to a good start, but I wanted to reply as soon as I could.
I applaud all the consideration and thought that you're bringing to this matter and trust that in the end
Monday, March 21, 2005
Defense Department Releases Data on Sexual Assaults at Military Academies and Announces New Policy
By SARA LIPKA
Approximately 14 percent of female students at U.S. military academies say that they have been sexually assaulted at least once since enrolling, and more than two-thirds of those attacks were never reported to authorities, according to a report released on Friday by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The first-ever comprehensive examination of sexual misconduct at the three military academies -- the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. -- followed related investigations at the Air Force Academy, which were sparked by charges of ignored sexual-assault accusations two years ago (The Chronicle, June 20, 2003).
On Friday the Pentagon released the results of its survey and announced a new sexual-assault policy that will allow victims at the academies and throughout the Defense Department to report assaults confidentially, seeking help but not necessarily triggering an official investigation.
The survey, which was conducted in March and April of 2004 by the office of the inspector general of the Pentagon, polled all female and 30 percent of male cadets and midshipmen at the three academies. There was a 97-percent response rate, with 1,906 women and 3,107 men anonymously answering questions via computers about incidents that occurred between 1999 and 2004.
About 14 percent of women and 2 percent of men said they had been sexually assaulted. For both men and women, about 90 percent of offenders were fellow students, and more than half of the assaults occurred in dormitories or barracks. Additionally, about 50 percent of women and 11 percent of men said that they had been sexually harassed at the academies, according to the survey.
"We are about where college campuses are, tragically," David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said at a news conference on Friday.
Joseph E. Schmitz, inspector general of the Defense Department, said that he expected a "higher standard" of conduct from cadets and midshipmen. "Our goal is to produce military leaders of character," he said. "And, obviously, sexual assaults are not a good indication of character. In fact, they're a very bad indication."
Among the survey's most significant findings, Mr. Schmitz said, is the "vexing challenge of the underreported nature of sexual assaults." Though 262 female students indicated having suffered 302 sexual assaults, 206, or two-thirds of those assaults, were never reported to authorities, the students said. For male students, 42 of 55 sexual assaults, or three-quarters, were not reported.
As reasons for not reporting sexual assaults, students cited personal loyalties, concern over punishment for breaking underage-drinking rules or the academies' fraternization policies, and fears of ostracism, harassment, or ridicule from peers or instructors. Ten female students who did report assaults cited 22 instances of retaliation by academy authorities.
Two-thirds to three-quarters of students said that they considered false reports of sexual assaults a problem.
Students at the Air Force Academy -- which adopted an "Agenda
for Change" two years ago to raise awareness about and limit sexual
misconduct on its campus -- were more likely than were their peers in
Among women in the survey, 54 percent at the
The survey also asked students about peer pressure and their adherence to the academies' honor codes. Of all students polled, about half said that cadets and midshipmen were likely to violate rules and regulations if they thought they would not get caught.
Along with the survey data, the Defense Department announced a new policy, to take effect in mid-June, to encourage victims of sexual assault to seek help.
According to the new policy, victims can report assaults confidentially to specified individuals: counselors, health-care providers, and victims' advocates, as well as chaplains, whom they can already inform confidentially under the military's current policy.
Under those "restricted reporting" rules, victims can obtain medical care and counseling without fearing repercussions from filing a complaint against a fellow student right away. "Many victims are unprepared to withstand the rigors of a full-fledged investigation immediately following their assault," said Mr. Chu.
Victims' advocates, more of whom are being hired and trained by the military, would help victims review their options and decide whether to initiate an official investigation of an assault. Meanwhile, commanders of the academies would be informed of an assault but given no identifying information about the victim.
With the new policy, "we're going to see more incidents reported," said Mr. Chu. "That's going to be progress, frankly."
Diane Stuart, a member of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies and director of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, said that although the number of reported assaults would probably rise for a couple of years, "increased reporting shows that increasing climate of trust and confidence that we're trying to inculcate."
An executive summary of the "Report on the Service Academy Sexual-Assault and Leadership Survey" is available on the Defense Department's Web site (requires Adobe Reader, available free): http://www.dodig.osd.mil/occl/pdfs/ExecSumFinal.pdf.
96. I am writing
to you concerning
Along with most universities,
Similarly, Columbia can take a stand against the discriminatory practices of the ROTC and 'do the right thing' for its students and stakeholders. To do anything different would be a retrogressive step for us as an institution and a turning point in an era when civil liberties and freedom are coming under renewed pressure. I hope that as a university senator you will also 'do the right thing' and vote against this measure.
97. Dear Task
The action proposed reflects a chilling degree of moral blindness. At
It is ironic, to say the least, to think about submitting our actions to an IRB while welcoming back to the campus a body that boasts that there are no moral principles involved in its actions except brute force.
Furthermore, I am quite certain that this is not the end of the moral dilemmas we will face if we allow ROTC to return to
98. When the
armed forces of the
"The brave men and women in ROTC have already stepped forward to bear a heavy burden on our behalf, and today on behalf of freedom around the world. We who are wealthy, well-educated, powerful or otherwise privileged-in short, we in the
99. ROTC =
DISCRIMINATION, how hard is that to comprehend? My face burns with shame
Keep ROTC & discrimination off the
reinstated, the ROTC will become a formal
University cannot justify and hide the adoption of this discriminatory policy
by arguing that ROTC would provide benefits to some students, as is argued by
the proponents of the proposal. Ensuring that benefits do not accrue to some on
the basis of programs that deny the opportunity for participation to all is the
point of nondiscrimination policy. The ROTC ban on lesbians, gay men and bisexuals
clearly violates the spirit and letter of nondiscrimination. An alleged
nondiscrimination policy that accepts the denial of educational, financial, and
career opportunities to specifically targeted groups of
We view the
value of nondiscrimination as surpassing immediate gains to any select group of
on the University Senate to reject the Proposal to Return ROTC to
*multiple signatures* [http://www.PetitionOnline.com/curotc/petition.html]
101. Dear Sir,
The following letter was printed in the Columbia Spectator on Tuesday 22 October. I hope you will take account of our groups' official stance against the proposed restoration.
The Columbia Queer Alliance, the Coming Out Group and Q,
As representatives of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender,
questioning and allied students on campus, we find the codified homophobia in
the ROTC's policies intolerable.
Since the adoption of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, an estimated 10,000 military employees have been discharged on the grounds of their sexual orientation. The ROTC does not always uphold even the minimal protections granted by DADT. Students who have remained silent about their sexual orientations have nonetheless been interrogated and expelled from the ROTC based on rumors and the suspicions of others. Discharged students have been required to return scholarship money that has already paid for their studies. This reality has received national attention in Cook v. Rumsfeld, an ongoing lawsuit filed by twelve queer, ex-ROTC students. ROTC’s contract requires all members to sign a form consenting to refrain from any homosexual activities.
Advocates for Columbia ROTC is a group of students backing the return of the ROTC. The group’s proposal is a woefully inadequate attempt to refute the arguments of many in the queer community. The group protests that the military lacks power to change DADT because it is a federal law. While the ultimate decision to codify homophobia in federal law was left to Congress, no laws are formed in a congressional vacuum-military officers work in close consultation with legislators to shape policies that affect the military. The suggestion that high-ranking ROTC officers have little or no influence on congressional policies affecting the ROTC is simply false.
Advocates for Columbia ROTC also splits hairs by explaining that in certain colleges, only the stipend and commissioning aspects of ROTC are discriminatory—queer students are still allowed to attend the classes, meetings and training sessions. There is a risible irony in this claim: we will be allowed to do all the work that the ROTC program entails without receiving any money or the opportunity for a future with the military. A program that specifically excluded women, minority races or religions would not be admitted on campus. What, then, could possibly cause us to grant exception to an organization that sidelines queer students?
Advocates for Columbia ROTC also states that the ROTC does not restrict the free speech of its recruits, though it admits that members are barred from joining certain political groups that were, ”in the Vietnam era, shunned and regarded as un-American.” Oddly enough, the military has considered gay-rights advocacy groups, and gay-straight alliances, to be political organizations. Members of the ROTC have been expelled after marching in a PRIDE parade, even though some were straight allies. In contrast, the notion that black ROTC students marching in a black pride parade might be risking military expulsion is rightly ridiculous. Needless to say, we believe that any claim to freedom of speech must include the right to be publicly open about one’s sexual identity.
We believe in the power of the university to enact change through
resistance. Our refusal to sanction the return of the ROTC reaffirms our
commitment to ensuring that intolerance and discrimination remain unacceptable
in our community. We are joined in this by other respected universities,
including Yale, Harvard and Brown.
The CQA and Q will continue to oppose the return of the ROTC until it changes its policies towards us and those who support our rights.
Karyn Lukoff and Katherine Redmon
Christian Sjulssen and Dustin Brauneck
Coming Out Group
102. To Whom It May Concern,
It is sad
that there is even a debate about allowing ROTC on Columbia’s campus. ROTC
discriminates, simply, plainly, and unapologetically, against gay, lesbian,
bisexual, and transgendered students. Columbia has a clear policy to not
support groups that discriminate, and I believe that the ROTC should not be
allowed to operate within the Columbia University community in any capacity. I believe