E-mail Responses

The Task Force has begun collecting e-mail responses sent to rotc-taskforce@columbia.edu. All submissions are considered for public consumption. If you wish your name or your opinions redacted, please contact the Task Force. The Task Force will accept submissions up to 11:59 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

From: Dan Morosani

Sent: Sun 2/27/2011 10:38 PM
Subject: ROTC

To the Task Force on Military Engagement,

We are writing to express our strong support for the return of ROTC to Columbia University.  ROTC’s return to campus would be beneficial for both America and the University, in that it would produce outstanding officers and would add to the campus’s intellectual diversity.

Those who argue that the United States military is an agent of imperialism, greed, evil, sexism, racism, etc, have every right to their opinions.  Indeed, we celebrate their freedom to publicly state their beliefs, however controversial or misguided, and members of the Military in Business Association have repeatedly risked their lives to defend that freedom.  However, letting a small (albeit vocal) group of students and faculty dictate University policy would set a dangerous precedent and would send a terrible message to the city, the nation, and the world about what Columbia really stands for.

Banning the propagation of “offensive” ideas—e.g., that military force is the only solution to some problems and thus we should be ready to apply it effectively—would be antithetical to what this University stands for.  So would be a bureaucratic decision to impede students from choosing any given career, which keeping ROTC off campus would effectively constitute.  Rather than sanitizing the University of a community whose mere presence would irritate some people, the school should celebrate the diversity that cadets and ROTC professors would bring.

For centuries, Columbia has produced many of these nation’s leaders, from Alexander Hamilton to Barack Obama.  Sadly, since the departure of ROTC four decades ago, the University has produced far fewer military leaders than it could have.  It is time to reverse this unfortunate trend by welcoming ROTC back to campus.


Jason Kelley and Dan Morosani
Co-Chairs, Military in Business Association, Columbia Business School

From: Anonymous
Sent: Sun 2/27/2011 12:37 PM
Subject: Invite the ROTC back

Dear Task Force,

Please post this email anonymously.

I am a student at Columbia College.

Most arguments I've heard against the ROTC regard foreign engagements and policy--decisions made by elected government, not by military officers.  One of the things which makes this country stable is that the military has always been civilian led.  At best these opinions are misguided; at worst they stem from a general anti-military sentiment which will take any position to keep the ROTC off campus.

The most valid argument against the ROTC is this: before DADT's repeal, we kept ROTC off campus because it broke our rules on non-discrimination.  After DADT's repeal, the ROTC would still break these rules, because it doesn't allow trans-gendered individuals to serve.

As for myself, I came to Columbia apathetic on gender issues and personally knowing only a two or three gay or lesbian students.  I've been changed by Columbia.  Exposed to GLBT students and becoming good friends with more than a handful through classes and clubs, I now call myself an ally.

That is why I believe that the ROTC should be allowed on campus.  DADT fell by order of the elected civilian government, but at the recommendation of General Petraeus and others.

By exposing future officers to diverse groups in their Lit Hum classes, at school events and on campus, the seeds for change in the future will be sown.  The second lieutenants which may graduate from Columbia in 2013 may be the generals of tomorrow.

Columbia's moral refusal of an ROTC program did not lead to DADT's repeal, but its acceptance of a program now will help bring about better policy in the future.

Columbia does not discourage its students from becoming politicians, and yet politicians put in place DADT.  Columbia should not put obstructions--such as a vicious commute to Fordham--in the way of students who want to serve. 


From: Simon Gregory Jerome
Sent: Sat 2/26/2011 11:47 PM
Subject: Return of ROTC to campus

Dear ROTC Task Force:

First off, I would like to thank you for your hard work and dedication on this extremely important issue. As a sophomore in Columbia College, I believe that it is extremely important for the undergraduate population to voice their opinions on this topic, and I am pleased that we have the outlet to do so.

I am writing to register again (I filled out the survey as well) my stance that the return of this program to Morningside Heights would be unacceptable. Besides the Core, one of the reasons I chose to attend here was the incredible diversity of opinions and of thought. The sanctioned presence of the military, I believe, would be starkly in contrast with the purported goals of the University, as well as in extreme opposition to the aforementioned diversity that is so attractive in an institution of higher education. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was clearly a landmark victory, but the military has not done enough to be inclusive of other parts of society, notably transgender individuals.

Even more important than the continued discrimination towards certain populations is the direct targeting that ROTC uses on disadvantaged classes in this country. I am too pleased for words that there are methods for the underrepresented to gain higher education, however, the cost at which it comes for these student-soldiers is disgraceful. The price of learning should never be war, even for a country as great as ours.

I trust that you will deliver a sound report to the University Senate that comprises all of the beliefs here on campus. Again, I thank you tremendously for your dedication.


Simon Gregory Jerome
Columbia College '13
Political Science, Russian, and Linguistics
From: Steven Goldstein
Sent: Sat 2/26/2011 10:55 AM
Subject: Debate on ROTC

To whom it may concern,

The following is my statement in favor of returning ROTC to Columbia at the Feb. 23 public hearing (in any case a cleaned up version of it).  I am sending it as an email so that it may be part of the public record.

Where I’m coming from. I am not a vet.  I was 18 in 1971 and received a high number in the draft lottery.  Therefore I did not have to worry about the draft.  I was active in opposing the Vietnam war.  I have no regrets and would do so again.  I received my degree from Columbia after transferring as a junior.

Much of the discussion from those opposed to ROTC has reflected misconceptions about the military.

My experience with the armed forces comes from the fact that my ex-wife has worked for Army social services for 26 years.  Through my experience as a spouse I got to know many aspects of Army life, and many, many members of the enlisted and officer corps.

Among the things I learned is that the armed forces have been ahead of the rest of society on many social issues.  Including non-discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic background or religion, integration of living quarters, integration of the workplace, respect for others outside of the workplace. 

The armed forces do not make policy, our civilian government makes the policies.  Their mission is to fulfill the tasks set by the decisions made by civilians.  If you don’t like what they do, blame the civilian government.

The officer corps: My experience is that the officer corps is a highly professional group of individuals.  Overall they come from a lower socio-economic background than the typical Columbia student. I attended two public universities before transferring to Columbia with good experiences at both, but given that perspective I particularly value the education I received here and Columbia's core curriculum.  I think if there were more officers with a Columbia education, it would be beneficial to the officer corps.  Moreover, it would benefit Columbia's student body if there were more students from the segment of the population that feeds the officer corps.

There are good reasons why the military is an attractive career alternative. The military has been accused of “preying” on lower income individuals.  For someone with a lower income background, the military offers a job that is attractive compared to the marketplace.  There are good housing, medical, social, educational and retirement benefits, as well as opportunities for career advancement and social mobility.

Bottom line:  The military is an important institution in this country, and we should aim to make it as good as it can be.  Educating the leaders is the best thing that we can do for the institution.


Steven L Goldstein
Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

From: Peter Lawrence
Sent: Fri 2/25/2011 6:17 PM
Subject: ROTC

I find it ironic that the school refuses students interested in protecting our freedom the freedom to explore that interest. Universities should be open places that are accepting of students’ interests and passions and foster an awareness of the broader world. Those interests and that world include the military, whether the University chooses to acknowledge it or not. Selective openness is not openness at all and creates a dangerous precedent for a university that sincerely endeavors to provide opportunity to students of diverse interests and backgrounds. Denial of the freedom to pursue an interest in the military is not only an affront to a brave and selfless demographic that we all owe respect, but also a fundamental failure of our community to provide its constituents an undiscriminating environment in which to pursue their interests. 

Peter B. Lawrence
Columbia Business School | MBA Class of 2011

From: Jonathan Guerra
Sent: Fri 2/25/2011 1:18 PM
Subject: Undersigned Letter In Support of ROTC

Dear University Senate Task Force on Military Engagement:

We, the undersigned members of the student body of Columbia Law School, in light of the imminent end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (“DADT”) policy, write to express our support for the inclusion of a Reserve Officer Training Corps (“ROTC”) program at Columbia University. Prior to the repeal of DADT, this university laudably stood against the inclusion of ROTC, as the recruitment policies of the military discriminated against gay and lesbian citizens who wished to serve their country in the armed forces. Now that DADT has been repealed, we believe it is fitting that the university take similar steps to allow the program to be reintroduced.

The reintroduction of ROTC at Columbia University would represent a renewed commitment to the intellectual diversity that lies at the core of the liberal arts education. Irrespective of one's political ideology or philosophical views, the opportunity for future military officers to be exposed to the diversity of thought offered by a liberal arts education is invaluable to creating engaged citizen-soldiers and civil servants. At the same time, the ROTC program would contribute to the intellectual diversity of the campus at large. The success of a modern liberal arts institution is largely marked by the degree to which its students learn from each other, and we believe this would only be enhanced by the unique experiences, viewpoints and voices that might be cultivated by an ROTC program on Columbia's campus.

Accordingly, we fail to see how the reintroduction of the ROTC program can do anything but add to the military and to the Columbia community. We therefore ask that you submit recommendations in favor of the reintroduction of ROTC at Columbia University.


Jonathan Guerra
Matt Wisnieff
Nick Moscow
Kate Swearengen
Jake Honigman
Aaron Aragon
John Power Hely
David Morales
William King
Melissa-Victoria King
Gillian Horton
Brian P. Donnelly
Haryle Kaldis
Young Kim
Brian Mulhall
Roxana Mondragon
LaRue Robinson
Mike Hilton
Jessica Wentz
Reena Jain
Alex Uballez
Dan Boyle
Maggie Maurone
Nate Cross
Timur Eron
Adam Brunk
Tyson Patterson
Stosh Silivos
Sean Berens
Daniel Bregman
James Concannon
Maneesh Sharma
James Barton
Priscilla Orta-Wenner
Christodoulos Kaoutzanis
Andrew McCormick
Andrew Krause
Benjamin Grossman
Joseph Payne
Andrea Contreras
Mike Anderson
Jon Krois
David Korvin
Michael Miller
John Love
Thomas Rice
Laura Mergenthal
Franck Chintoya
Justin Purtle
Yaw Antwi Darkwa
From: Eric Chen
Sent: Fri 2/25/2011 10:58 AM
Subject: Additional analysis for Opinion on ROTC and Columbia's non-discrimination policy

Task Force,
Due to subsequent feedback, I learned I omitted 2 significant pieces of analysis in my original opinion on ROTC and Columbia's non-discrimination policy:
From opening paragraph: Consistent with this commitment and with applicable laws . . .
Key phrasing is "applicable laws". Anti-discrimination laws for ordinary civilian employers have sometimes been cited in the case against ROTC at Columbia. However, for obvious reasons, laws that regulate ordinary civilian employers do not apply to military personnel policy, which is regulated by separate federal statutes and case law.

From third paragraph:
Nothing in this policy shall abridge academic freedom or the University’s educational mission.

The superseding provision in Columbia’s non-discrimination policy retains the University's discretion to promote the “University's educational mission” notwithstanding any other provision of the non-discrimination policy. The University Senate is deciding whether ROTC will be included in the University’s educational mission. While Columbia can decide to exclude ROTC, the same discretion allows Columbia to add ROTC to the University's educational mission without compromise. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Eric Chen
GS 2007

From: Steven Hubina
Sent: Fri 2/25/2011 9:51 AM
Subject: ROTC

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a student at Columbia Business School with no military background. The military is not a perfect organization and there are certain inequalities that need to be rectified. However, I do not believe a “boycott” of the military solves any of these problems and it ignores the incredible service that the military provides to this country. I believe that supplying the military with Ivy League educated officers will go a much longer way to fixing the issues with the military more than an outright ban on ROTC on campus.


Steven Hubina
Columbia Business School Class of 2012
From: Lauren Schulz
Sent: Fri 2/25/2011 8:07 AM
Subject: ROTC at Columbia

Hi.  My name is Lauren Schulz, I am a 1st year student at SIPA and I am also a Marine.

I have attended all three debates and I appreciate the efforts of the task force, however I too wish to continue this debate and have true conversations with students and faculty over the coming weeks.  I am not sure why some people were unclear as too whom the task force is and how the process works.  To me, the website is very clear and answers most questions.  Particularly, it clearly states who the members of the task force are and their affiliations.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend Columbia with alumni that includes General Dwight Eisenhower and President Barack Obama.  I was drawn to this university because of its reputation and value system for:
  • Open mindedness
  • Diversity
  • Tolerance for different points of view
  • Commitment to excellence
I strongly support lifting the ban of ROTC on campus for these very same reasons.

I have served in the United States Marine Corps for almost 8 years and I fully understand that the military is by no means a perfect institution.  We have had significant challenges and there are serious issues we must deal with.  

With that said, I was drawn to the military for its reputation and value system of:
  • Courage
  • Sacrifice
  • Commitment
  • Loyalty
  • Dedication
Just like many who have participated in these discussions, thousands of young men and women are drawn to the military because of these values and volunteer each and every day to serve our country. By keeping ROTC from our campus we are sending them a message that they are good enough to protect and defend the Constitution but not good enough to be present on our campus. This ban perpetuates the detachment between civilians and our military in a time when less than 1% of the population serves.  The civil military gap is growing and this is dangerous and problematic in so many ways.  We at Columbia pride ourselves for the advance knowledge and learning that occurs at the highest level and in our mission statement we say that we want to convey the products of our education efforts to the world. 

Lets lead the way as we have so many times in the past and re-engage by having a formal relationship with our military. Our future graduates, which will include future military officers, will be better prepared to engage with diverse points of view and other cultures, home and abroad.

As a student, I urge the senate to vote in favor of ROTC at our university.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Lauren Schulz
From: Marc A. Fitorre
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 11:40 PM
Subject: In Relation to NROTC

To whom it may concern:

I have been a part of the Columbia Engineering community since 2006.

During that time, I was repeatedly reminded of the proud effort the University makes to provide their student body with numerous and diverse academic, extracurricular and professional opportunities as possible. Indeed, during the Fireside Chat held by President Bollinger in his living room during the fall of 2006, he identified that quality as one of the benchmarks of the Columbia experience.

That being said, I can say without reservation that I found my own opportunities limited through my status as a Columbia University student. Starting in the second half of my freshman year, I became interested in committing myself to a number of years of service to my country as a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps.

For individuals already not enrolled in U.S. Naval Academy, the United States Marine Corps provides three distinct methods of obtaining a commission: participation during college in a NROTC program, admittance into their Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program, or direct commissioning post-graduation into their Officer Candidates Course (OCC). As Columbia did not provide an NROTC program, I was forced to either apply to the USMC's PLC program or wait until I graduated and attempt to commission as part of OCC. I ended up deciding to apply to their PLC program, to which I gained admittance into and participated in.

I am no longer a member of the USMC's Platoon Leaders Class program, nor am I a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. Two years ago I became very ill and was forced to take a medical leave of absence from the university to recover. The medical leave postponed my expected date of graduation until May 2011, which resulted in the nullification of my contract with the Marine Corps. Although unfortunate, my passion for service endures and I continue to seek viable options within the Marine Corps and another branches of service through the Reserves or National Guard.

I was and still am disappointed with how difficult my decision to commit to serving in the Marine Corps became. Platoon Leaders Class became an acceptable option for me and I aggressively participated in the program, going downtown on a bi- to tri-weekly basis and attending Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va. in the summer between my sophomore and junior years. However, the process could have been made more convenient had NROTC been an option for me. The PLC program requires an intense application process, and once accepted, officer candidates are forced to remain self-motivated and individually prepare to remain ready to attend OCS in the summer. In contrast, NROTC affords their Marine-Option Midshipmen a structured program specifically designed to prepare them for OCS and their duties as a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. Courses such as ethics, management and history of warfare afford participants a spread-out process that allows them to report to OCS ahead of the curve. As a Officer Candidate as part of PLC, I was never offered such an advanced program to prepare me and I was forced to learn these lessons at an accelerated pace during my summer of training.

When I met with President Bollinger during the previously-mentioned Fireside Chat, I questioned him about his and the university's insistence on not allowing NROTC to return to campus. He informed me the the reasoning was two-fold: first, he and the University did not support the congressionally-mandated policy of "Don't ask, Don't tell," and until that policy was revoked the university would not support what some considered to be a "discriminatory organization;" secondly, he informed me that although Columbia did not fall in the range of other NROTC programs in the area, it was included in the radius of Army and Air Force ROTC programs, and so if a student felt eager to pursue participation in the military via ROTC, he or she could do so through those other universities.

I met President Bollinger's response with conflicting emotions - while I understood his and the university's stance regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," I completely disagreed with and found offensive his implication that Columbia need not support an NROTC program because other ROTC programs in the area were available. The implication that ROTC participation is interchangeable across the branches of service is the same as the misguided suggestion that participation in any of the "ivy leagues" is the same as attending Columbia University. Just like with colleges, individuals decide to join the military for various reasons, and in many cases, specifically when pertaining to future officers, they join a particular branch of service for a very specific reason. Service as a member of the Army or Air Force, though similar in the sense of service to one's country, is not the same as service in the Marine Corps, and the university should recognize and respect this fact.

I am extremely proud of the time I spent as an Officer Candidate for the United States Marine Corps, and I am also extremely proud of my continued and lifelong status as a "Columbian." It is my deepest hope that the University will decide to respect and facilitate others who in the future may also bear great love for both these institutions, so that another student may never again have to make the same kind of compromises and sacrifices that I forced to do due to Columbia's refusal to cooperate with the United States Marine Corps and build the great officers, patriots, and community leaders of the future.


Marc A. Fitorre
Columbia Engineering
Class of 2010

From: James L. Saeli
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 4:59 PM
Subject: Consider not what ROTC will do to Columbia....

...but what Columbia will do to the ROTC!
After my service in the Air Force (during which I served in the Afghanistan War) I went to law school at Cornell University, which has a longstanding ROTC program.  I found that the presence of ROTC cadets and their servicemember instructors on campus in no way detracted from the otherwise liberal vibe of the university and campus.
In fact, I believe the presence of liberal, Ivy League-caliber officers will have a far greater liberalizing affect on the modern military culture than any negative affect ROTC programs could have on liberal universities.
We all stand more to gain from introducing more intelligent and free-thinking individuals into the officer corps than by excluding them (which we're doing by keeping ROTC programs out of universities like Columbia). There is nothing written anywhere that military culture must be a conservative one.  I met some of the most radical liberals I have ever met in my life while on active duty; some of history's greatest thinkers and champions of the general welfare were military officers. (Google General Smedley Butler, for example.)
Yes, the United States military has some unacceptable exclusionary policies. However, the most effective way to change those policies is to change the people who create and enforce those policies--enforcement often falls to low-ranking officers, and the creation of internal policies falls on higher-level officers. If only conservatives hold those positions, only conservative policies will be created and enforced.
Have the guts to allow change to happen, and see what good you can make of it.
James L. Saeli
From: Jeremiah Sharf
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 10:20 AM
Subject: YES

From: Kevin Carey
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 10:02 AM
Subject: Future of Columbia ROTC

I disagree with many, many, many policies of the US military and its government. However with the recent repeal of the 'dont ask, dont tell' policy I believe the ROTC program should be allowed to return to Columbia University.  The merit of the past ban was founded discriminatory nature of the policy.  By continuing to ban the ROTC program from the University, you would be eliminating a means for a student to finance their college tuition by imposing your own political views on them. 

Furthermore it would be hypocritical of the University to celebrate its alumni who had military origins (Hamilton, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, etc...) while again preventing its future alumni from funding their tuition by establishing their own military roots.

-Kevin Carey
P&S 2013
From: Joel Ramirez
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 1:46 AM
Subject: In Support of the Return of the Columbia ROTC Program

My 2 minutes and 30 seconds to the panel on 2/23 was drawn from this larger speech.

My name is Joel Ramirez, I am a second year at GS, I am double-majoring in philosophy and creative writing, and I am a United States Marine Corps veteran.

What brought me to Columbia has in large part been due to my experience in the military. I enlisted in the military while still in high school because I did not have an interest in going to college upon graduation and because where I’m from, there is no money and limited opportunity to do anything significant without a college degree. The high school I graduated from is often ranked the number one high school in the country and the number of opportunities presented to me by many universities, including some elite ones, was plentiful. I didn’t want to partake of those opportunities, but I did want out of my house and so I chose the Marine Corps because, if I was going to join the armed forces, I wanted to be one of the best. Incidentally, this is also why I chose Columbia. I never considered another branch of armed service and I did not apply to another school.
My occupational specialties were in the data systems and intelligence fields. This is to say that I am one of the hundreds of thousands of service members that did not service in combat, like those in food service or logistics or supply – any number of fields where no on dies. The argument these fields are in support of “a machine that wages war” or are in support of young people’s “training to kill and be killed” as was presented by the panel of the Anti-ROTC Coalition, is deceiving and purposefully generalizing. Their issues with war should be taken up with the Congress of the United States of America and the corporate culture of conquest. These types of fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics are inflammatory and create resentment to anyone associated with the military, not all of which are combatants.
By now you’ve heard and read many a first hand account of what it means to be a member of our armed forces at a young age, what wartime adversity can do to a citizen’s perspective, and why that is valuable to our society and our Columbia community. But let’s talk about what ROTC stands to benefit from Columbia. Let’s talk about how Columbia’s heritage is more rooted in providing leaders to our battlefields and in garrison, than not. Let’s talk about how Columbia accepts responsibility for grooming women and men of the highest intellectual and moral caliber to lead and contribute to industries and societies all over the world, and extend that responsibility to our own military of citizen soldiers. Please remember, although there are Columbians that participate in ROTC, this is not the same support that the university is willing to provide nearly every other organization its students are a part of. In fact, it’s not support at all.

This support has been previously contingent upon the moral progress of the military. Despite the repeal of DADT, I’ll concede there is still progress to be made on the bias and foreign policy fronts. But the nature of progress is that there is no end to it, and Columbia should participate in cultivating leaders in every area of our society, not abstain from contributing to particular ones. There is no doubt our university would contribute greatly, and if our institutional culture and history is any indication, we can accelerate said progress. I find it unbelievably self-defeating and cynical that students and faculty have said that influencing the military is a condescending notion. No one has said there is a lack of bright people in the military, but DADT didn’t get overturned simply because the incumbents reversed their positions. We didn’t elect our first black president because nothing could be changed. Progress is conventionally assumed to take time, some are convinced that it takes money or for a certain party to be in power, but one thing that it is never absent is leadership. This is something that Columbia knows how to cultivate, and those of us in support of the ROTC on campus submit that as what is most germane to the conversation. Why deny our part in providing an integral part of our society not just qualified leaders, but exceptional ones? We have officers that serve honorably and go on to contribute to our society in many and varied ways, but why not more of them? Columbia, it seems, has preferred to ask, why us and why bother?
If your issue is compromising the integrity of our academic program, then put it to the task force to research and deliberate like Yale, Stanford, and MIT have done. If your issue is that we should keep separate academia and the government, Fu and Columbia Law will be operating on a new shoestring budget because their federal funding disappeared. If you are looking for your Vietnam moment, the draft’s over. If you are looking at predatory recruiting with a suspicious eye, look at yourself. This is social stratification at its most apparent. When I was on my recruiting duty, none of my well-to-do friends would sign up even with a strong sense of duty. Their parents wouldn’t let them. They had “options.” Those with less options are often more receptive to serving in the military, and, based upon the numbers of the indignant, I expect to see a lot of NGO’s springing up to offer alternatives for these youth who would take advantage of the ROTC program. Otherwise, it looks judgmental and arrogant to not offer support for the ROTC on campus.
The officers from our ROTC program will leverage their education in accomplishing their missions as much as we will in our professional endeavors. There are willing and qualified people who would benefit from an ROTC program, even in our midst, and many more in the surrounding communities. We are purposefully, and now without even the slimmest of moral veils, discriminating against these young people.
And I know first-hand, as do all student veterans on this campus, how greatly this caliber of education would contribute to a service member’s career. Having leaders that feel this way, highly-educated and with the preparation of the ROTC, more directly benefits us all.
I implore those who would prefer that the ROTC remain unavailable to Columbia University proper, to reconsider. If this education is important enough to you, and you think that it may better you professionally and in life, consider extending that opportunity to our military. They will be the leaders of women and men on the ground in combat, they will participate in humanitarian missions throughout the world, they will develop and change domestic and foreign policy, they will advise the executive leadership of our country. We are only asking Columbia University to once again offer itself as a milestone, albeit an incredibly influential one, on this path.
Finally, I believe that ROTC cadets at Columbia would benefit from leveraging the student veteran population currently at Columbia. It is a population that continues not only to grow year over year, but to thrive and contribute. We completely integrate with the student body and, by all accounts, are as much appreciated as any other students contributing to the diverse landscape of the university. Perhaps you will see Columbia ROTC cadets benefitting from hearing about our experiences, from receiving non-biased insight into military culture, and perhaps see them go into active duty with an enhanced humanity because of the anecdotes of my peers.

Thank you.

From: Sean Wilkes
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 1:31 AM
Subject: Letter to the Task Force: Existing precedent for military program on campus

Greetings! I just wanted to take this opportunity to note that, while I fully support ROTC and believe it would add much to Columbia's intellectual diversity, hosting a military program on Columbia's campus would not be completely unprecedented. For the past few years Columbia has been partnering with the United States Military Academy on the Eisenhower Leadership Development Program. This is an academic program that newly assigned Tactical Officers (TACs) must complete before taking their position at West Point. It is designed specifically for military officers who are soon-to-be West Point instructors. Following completion of the program, these officers go on to serve as TACs in the U.S. Military Academy Brigade Tactical Department.

The program's website may be found here: http://www.dean.usma.edu/departments/bsl/eldp.html. As the site notes:

"The Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) portion of the Eisenhower Program takes 12-months to complete. Officers are stationed at West Point during this period and are assigned to the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. (They are inter-post transferred to the Brigade Tactical Department after graduation for the remainder of their tour as a TAC.) Classes are coordinated between USMA and Columbia University, with some held on post but all others held on the Teachers College campus in New York City."

At end of the program, military officers are granted an M.A. in Social-Organizational Psychology (Leader Development). The website goes on to describe the important role that these officers go on to play in USMA Cadets' lives:

"A Tactical Officer (TAC) is the legal Company Commander of a Cadet Company and the primary developer of cadets at the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point , New York. He or she assists each cadet in balancing and integrating the requirements of the physical, military, academic, and moral-ethical programs...TACs inspire cadets to develop effective leadership styles through role-modeling, counseling, teaching, and training. A Tactical Officer also presents formal and informal instruction to the company, implements special development programs for individual cadets as needed, and is responsible for all company administration."

As you continue to deliberate on the important issue of ROTC's return to Columbia's campus, I hope that you will consider this as one more example of how Columbia can significantly and positively impact the lives and wellbeing of our current and future servicemen and women through its excellent educational programs and academic resources.

Cordially yours,
Sean L. Wilkes
From: Roisin Isner
Sent: Thu 2/24/2011 12:26 AM
Subject: No ROTC

Dear ROTC Task Force,

Please don't allow ROTC to come back to the Columbia Campus. I was appalled this evening at the Panel meeting about how many individuals spoke of the merits of ROTC for low-income students, and how many opportunities it afforded.

As a (very) low income student, from a (very) underprivileged background, let me speak for myself, and get this straight: ROTC, by no fault of its own, is necessarily exploitative of low income students. Until the University has seriously addressed the issue of properly allocating resources to aid students with financial need (particularly in GS), we cannot even consider allowing ROTC on campus. We, as low income students experience incredible anxiety over the cost of tuition, and fear all too frequently that we may have to leave the school. Indeed, huge numbers of the students I met during orientation didn't stay past 1 semester. I am the first student from my old community college in years to go to Columbia, even though at least one student is accepted every semester.

There are a number of reasons to join ROTC or enlist in the armed forces, but financial need alone is not a good enough reason. Please don't let them manipulate my anxiety, and dangle their scholarship in front of my face like a carrot on a string. Don't let them ask me to be killed, or kill.

ROTC does not help poor students, it takes advantage of us. We as a country have spent enough time supporting the U.S. on the backs of its most vulnerable citizens. ROTC at Columbia is a clear manifestation of this injustice. Moreover, I find their motives dubious. They must be aware of the financial aid crisis within the School of General Studies, and the huge drop out rate because of inability to pay. Vulture like.

Respectfully Yours,
Roisin Isner
GS 2013
From: James Barton
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 7:16 PM
Subject: Bring ROTC Back

As a student at the law school, I've found it particularly detestable the way the Solomon Amendment has been used as a cudgel to violate our non-discrimination policies. DADT was a clear case of the politics of fear and division triumphing over both tolerance and military effectiveness. However, I consider it very important that we don't let that unfortunate legacy continue to poison the University's relationship with the military. It is the discipline of the armed forces that allow democracy to flourish in the US, protected both from external threats and internal tyranny. It is my belief that the majority of objections to the military stem not from the choices of the military itself, but from the choices made by politicians.

I believe that the increased ties represented by ROTC will strengthen both Columbia and the military. As such, I strongly support the return of ROTC to the Columbia community.

Yours sincerely,

James Barton
From: Joseph Musso
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 6:30 PM
Subject: Revised Comments

Ladies and Gentleman,

I speak to you tonight to support the return of the Reserve Officer Training Corps to the Columbia community. 

President Obama has called on all American colleges and universities rise to this challenge.  To quote the President, “I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC.  It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past.  It is time to move forward as one nation.”

It is with this unity, this one nation, in mind, that I encourage the members of the Task Force on Military Engagement to recommend the reinstatement of ROTC.

Our military should reflect the makeup of the entire United States; all geographic areas, all incomes, all education levels, and certainly all races, genders, and sexual orientations.  To ensure an even combination, we must recruit equally across all universities.  Involving the Ivy League is particularly important to the overall development of our Armed Forces.   A cohesive nation must work to minimize the gap between our elected leaders and those who command the military.  ROTC fosters this cohesion through active involvement, but also through the sense of awareness when the military and civilian communities are intertwined. 

It is important to note that simply allowing ROTC to locate on campus will not create an outpouring of students anxious to join the military.  Those students who feel the call to duty will find a way to serve, even if ROTC does not exist on our campus.  Instead, we should recognize that allowing ROTC on campus gives much-deserved recognition to those who serve our country in the Armed Forces.

Take a moment to consider the opportunities lost by not allowing ROTC to exist on our campus.  Some students would lose a chance to pay for an education they otherwise could not afford.  All students would be deprived of the personal choice to be involved.  All students lose the opportunity to learn about the military and to understand the desires and experiences of those who serve. 

Allowing ROTC to return to does not promote or celebrate war; it does not promote discrimination, engender violence, or create divide.  Bringing the military together with the academic community can only create understanding, awareness, and a respect for each other that is sorely lacking in our already secluded community. 

I would feel much better about my future leaders, the current students who may one day be in positions of power, if I knew they had been exposed to the true cost of war: Our friends, family, colleagues, and classmates.  Isolating ourselves from this knowledge does a disservice to those who protect our shores, both now and in the future.

I would also like to take a moment to address one of the recurring comments in opposition to ROTC: The issue of transgender acceptance into the military.  The Department of Defense sets the physical standards for admission into the armed forces.  These standards preclude anyone with a physical abnormality, whether it is genital or otherwise.  Someone who has undergone surgery that structurally alters his or her body certainly fits this category.

Further, the Department of Defense issues standards for emotional stability.  Certainly enduring an internal struggle with one’s gender identity qualifies as temporary emotional instability, particularly given the low average age for enlistment in the armed forces.  How can the Army expect young men and women to fully understand a topic that the entire nation still struggles to accept?

Thank you. 

Joseph Musso
SIPA - MPA 2011
From: Brendan Smith
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 6:16 PM
Subject: ROTC on campus

Shame on Columbia for prohibiting ROTC on campus for 42 year. If you don't support the certain wars that is one thing, but turning you back on the men and women that put their lives on the line for each one of us is disgraceful. Our liberty wouldn't last one minute without our citizen soldiers. the hippocrates that live here and enjoy the freedoms and rights of citizenship at the same time maligning those who sacrifice to defend us from our enemies should spend time in places like Lybia where people are dying in the streets for things we take for granted. We have a great educational institution here and we should encourage those in the armed services to take advantage of it.

Brendan Smith
Columbia University Orthodontics
Class 2011
From: David Koch
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 5:53 PM
Subject: In support of ROTC

The last sentence of Columbia University’s mission statement reads, “It expects all areas of the university to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.”  To advance knowledge and learning for the benefit of society is an incredibly noble and worthy cause and provides the basis of my support for welcoming ROTC back on campus. In order to promote knowledge and learning, I believe it is important to foster an environment that welcomes individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives.  With this in mind, I believe the benefits derived from engaging the military by allowing ROTC back on campus outweigh any perceived drawbacks; the opportunity to work with the military’s future leaders provides the best means for addressing the issues currently leveled against the military.

As a citizen and a student, I am hesitant to approach any problem by simply turning my back to it.  Never has a solution to a problem arisen by merely isolating ourselves from it and hoping for the best.  As such, I struggle in understanding the opposition to allowing ROTC back on campus here at Columbia University as I do not believe the solution to the problems raised by the opposition lay in just closing our doors to the military.  The core arguments against allowing ROTC return to campus that I have heard concern three things: 1.) That the military exploits the poor by offering tuition in return for service commitments 2.) The military still discriminates against individuals who are transgendered and 3.) The military engages in unjust wars.  I have difficulty understanding the first argument as I believe this policy offers both educational and service opportunities to the benefit of our country and should be available to all.  As for the second two arguments, I would better understand them if the military was in fact responsible for them, but it is important to remember that the military does not create the policies that underlie these complaints.  Disagreements over who is allowed into the military or what wars our military fights are issues of policy set by authorities outside of the military, that is, by congress.  As such, I do not believe it is fair, nor productive, to hold an organization accountable for measures it is subjected to by outside authorities.  There are also other arguments I have heard against ROTC that range from sincere but misguided, such as the military mistreats women as evidenced by cases of sexual abuse, to purely conspiratorial, such as the military is an imperialist entity.  As with any organization, I understand there are problems that need to be addressed, but I disagree that barring ROTC from campus will in anyway address them.  If you are a concerned student or professor worried about the nature of our military, you should welcome the opportunity to engage its future leaders in an educational setting of mutual respect and interaction.  I believe exposure to the educational values that Columbia instills can only leave a positive impact.  As such, I believe Columbia University should welcome ROTC back on its campus.

David Koch
Candidate for Master of International Affairs degree, 2011
School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

From: Matthew Marko
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 5:38 PM
Subject: My Support of ROTC at Columbia University

To the ROTC Task Force, GSAS Senators, and the Office of the President at Columbia University:

My name is Matthew Marko, a first year PhD candidate of mechanical engineering.  While I am not currently active duty, I am a civilian government employee of the US Navy, having been with the federal service since 2006.  I am currently here at Columbia full-time, financially supported by the Navy.  I am emailing to express my support of allowing on-campus ROTC programs, as well as on-campus recruiting, and ending the drought of military involvement that has existed since 1968.

The primary argument against ROTC on campus is the military policy of banning open homosexuals from serving.  This was initially established as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which was signed by Congress and President Truman in 1950.  From the start, this ban was enacted by Congress and the President, not the military.  In addition, the more recent policy of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) has been repealed, not by a consortium of general/flag officers, but by Congress and President Obama.  I most certainly agree that this policy was blanketed discriminatory and contradictory to the university policies against discrimination.  However, a simple fact remains that these policies against homosexuals were established and repealed by CONGRESS.  The military itself is apolitical, the civilian members of Congress are the ones responsible for this discriminatory piece of legislature, and to deny the military the ability to offer ROTC, or even to have recruiters attend career fairs, is unfairly penalizing an apolitical organization.

Why am I bringing this up, especially now that it appears that homosexuals will soon be able to serve openly in the US military?  I wanted to stress the point that, while a large segment of this university has strong opinions regarding the military and its recent activities (ex discrimination against homosexuals, the war in Iraq, etc), these strong opinions should be directed at those responsible, notably Congress and the President.  The men and women in uniform simply follow the orders of their commanders, who eventually follow orders from the commander-in-chief.  To penalize an apolitical organization for the decisions of civilian politicians is unfair, unjust, and not message we should send at our university.

The US military is an integral part of America, just like our academic and university system.  In America, we all have the right to disagree with the decisions of our elected officials, a right championed by this university, and protected by the US military.  Most people in the world do not have this right, and without the US military to protect us, we might not be having this debate on campus.  While we may have very different political opinions, we must all respect and cherish our rights to free expression granted to us by this country, which we are all enjoying today at this university.  While a great patriot can have strong opposition to the President and Congress, a patriot cannot be opposed to this country or this country's apolitical military.

To conclude, I want to stress a point we can all agree with, and that point is that Columbia University is a non-sectarian, apolitical organization.  We are this way so that differing views can be expressed by students and faculty.  To penalize the US military, also an apolitical organization just like us, simply because we are opposed to the actions of Congress and the President is contradictory to the principles of this university.  For this reason, I advocate bringing back ROTC and military recruitment on to the campus of Columbia University.

Very Respectfully,
~ Matthew Marko

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical Engineer, Navy Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (Lakehurst Navy Air Station)

From: Lauren C. von Eckartsberg

Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 4:17 PM
Subject: ROTC at Columbia

Dear Task Force members,

I can't attend the meeting tonight geared towards graduate students, but my younger brother is an ROTC student at his university (Miami University of Ohio in the Xavier University program) and I think it is a very important program that should be available for students who wish to pursue a career in the military.  Not only is it a great way for students who wish to go into the military to receive a well-rounded education, but also it allows them to receive training and prepare themselves for life after graduation.  I understand that the ROTC program is not for everyone; it is definitely not for me, but I think that the option to receive both an elite education and military training should be available for anyone that may be interested.  Thank you for your dedication to the issue at hand.


Lauren C. von Eckartsberg

Master of Arts Candidate '11
Latin American and Caribbean Regional Studies
Columbia University

From: Scott Gleason
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 3:52 PM
Subject: ROTC opinion


I am a PhD student in music at Columbia, and write to tell you that despite the ban on DADT I still strongly disapprove of the notion of having Columba engage with the military in any manner.

Our mission is research and teaching. The military's mission is war. The two do not coincide, and can have only a negative impact when made to.

Thank you,

Scott Gleason
PhD candidate, Columbia University

From: Asher J. Levine
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 3:48 PM
Subject: Please vote in favor of ROTC

Often, as New Yorkers, we forget that military service is a strong tradition in many parts of the country. We should give talented prospective students the ability to pursue their military interests. They will undoubtedly present a valuable new addition to the intellectual makeup of our campus.

Many thanks for your support,
Asher Levine

From: Learned Foote
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 3:45 PM
Subject: Statement of support for ROTC

To the task force on military engagement:

Thank you for your efforts in collecting opinions from the Community. I filled out the survey indicating support for ROTC, and I would like to express my views in more detail.

The civil-military gap
Many students of our generation have little contact with those who serve in the armed forces, as only 1% of the U.S. population serves. This contributes to a regrettable national disengagement with American foreign policy. However, the American military is subject to civilian control, and it is essential to the health of our democracy that its citizens exercise their vote and elect representatives who will use the military wisely. It is essential that we maintain and strive for relationships with those who serve in order to grasp and engage their various perspectives.

Columbia and its veterans
Columbia has a significant veteran population that surpasses other Ivy League schools, and this presence undoubtedly enriches the entire student body. As has been demonstrated through a series of town halls, these service-members are not brainwashed pawns, bereft of thoughts and opinions, but often have nuanced and intelligent views on foreign policy and America's place in the world. Speaking from experience, my most essential knowledge of Iraq and Afghanistan comes from those who served on the ground, and they are scarcely uncritical of America. Nor do they fail to recognize our critical role in maintaining the global distribution of power, nor the benefits of humanitarian missions. The ROTC program will provide a huge benefit to campus by training future military leaders, who will gain the critical perspective engendered by a Columbia education, and share their experiences with civilian classmates.

Columbia's leadership in the world
To suggest that Columbia could benefit the military is not an elitist argument, as it has been unfairly characterized. Advocates for ROTC do not devalue the service of men and women who did not attend Columbia. I do not believe that Columbia will bring some enlightened perspective previously unknown to the military. However, i recognize that Columbia students go on to become global leaders in many fields, from law and business to public service and the arts. They should have better opportunities to lead in military service as well, and I have no doubt they could make important contributions here as they have in other fields.

Imperialism and the United States
Furthermore, I do not believe that interpretations of the United States military as an imperialist entity have any place in the specific question of whether ROTC should return to Columbia. I respect people's right to voice their views, even if I disagree with them. These are important questions, and should be vigorously debated on campus. But debate does not mean exclusion. No faculty member or student should close off opportunities to students based on their own opinions. We are a campus of political diversity, and students should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to participate in ROTC. This argument is also inconsistent because it unrealistically severs the actions of the US military from the US government as a whole. Columbia partners with the government in various ways, and accepts a massive amount of taxpayer funds. Why is ROTC excluded because of America's purported evils, even as Columbia benefits from other dollars for research?

Discrimination policies
Nor do I believe that the discrimination argument prevents compelling reasons to ban ROTC. I believed this even before Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, and the narrowed focus from LGBT students to transgendered individuals has not changed my mind. Other schools, such as Berkeley and Princeton, allow ROTC even though they too have non-discrimination policies. Although we interpret our policy to mean that we can't allow ROTC on campus, I don't think our stance on discrimination is more morally righteous than Berkeley's only because we don't allow an ROTC program on campus. In fact, I doubt these arguments would exist if Columbia hadn't kicked off ROTC to begin with (back when it was discriminating against women and LGBT people), and I do not hear arguments that student participation on off-campus programs is inherently discriminatory. Furthermore, the military's discrimination policy will never match Columbia's. In some cases, this is unjust (as with LGBT service-members), but in other ways it makes sense (age, disability, nationality, etc). If we refuse to engage with an institution until it matches some ideal that even Columbia doesn't even hold to consistently, then we will never bring back ROTC. A writer for the Huffington Post recently argued that ROTC shouldn't return to Columbia until gay marriage is legalized, because the benefits to spouses would be unequal. Are reduced benefits discriminatory? Certainly. But refusing to engage with the military until the enactment of gay marriage is merely a smokescreen for refusing to engage with the military in any imaginable future.

Institutional concerns
Some have argued that the question of ROTC should not be raised because we do not know what the program would look like. This argument puts the cart before the horse. Until we begin an institutional dialogue with the military, we will not know exactly what an ROTC program would entail. That does not mean we should stop doing the research to determine what it would look like. We know that other schools such as MIT support ROTC programs without relinquishing course control or academic credit.

ROTC at Columbia
I envision a program where any Columbia student would be able to take military science classes through ROTC, regardless of whether they are eligible for being commissioned after graduation based on nationality, gender identity, etc. Such a program is a feasible possibility. It would live up to the ideals of the university, support our mission of open dialogue and public service, and should be actively explored by the University Senate.

Learned Foote
Columbia College Class of 2011

From: Malena Arnaud

Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 10:07 AM

As a Barnard student I am strongly against the return of ROTC to my campus as I do not think that a military belongs in an academic institution. Bringing ROTC back to campus is not a way of starting conversations on the U.S. military, but instead a way of suppressing inquiry and dissent nor is it the education many of us are looking for and decided on.

ALL students and faculty affected by a uniformed military presence should be considered in the polling and decision process.

Thank you,
Malena Arnaud 

From: David Schizer
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 9:49 AM
Subject: ROTC

Now that "Don't ask, don't tell" has been repealed, the University should invite ROTC back to campus.  Columbia should strive to train leaders for every important sector throughout the world.  The U.S. military has a profound impact on our nation and on the world, and we should aspire to offer its future leaders the benefits of a Columbia education.

In addition, having students with a military background enriches our intellectual life.  At the Law School, we have been fortunate to host many students with military experience-- including JAG officers, reservists, and veterans (from the United States and other nations) -- and they contribute an invaluable perspective and relevant experience across many facets of our curriculum.  For example, in a class on national security law, having students with first-hand experience in applying the Geneva Convention, representing clients in systems of military justice, or making judgments about detaining prisoners on the battlefield raises the level of discussion for everyone.  There obviously are many examples from other parts of our curriculum as well.

I realize that the opportunity to be in ROTC will be of interest to only a subset of our students.  We are a diverse community, and opportunities that are of interest to some will not -- and need not -- be of interest to all. But for those Columbians who wish to be in ROTC, we should make the opportunity available.

I do not share the concern, expressed by others, that the military's culture is incompatible with that of a university.  The premise of this argument is that military commands are obeyed without any critical thought.  This is an unfair (and an uninformed) perspective.  In fact, soldiers are required to disobey certain orders, and they are also called upon to engage in critical thought and to show creativity and initiative.  I have more sympathy for the concern, expressed by others, that transgendered students may not be eligible to serve in ROTC, or that the military is not always a hospitable atmosphere for women.  My view is that engaging with the military is the most promising way to ensure that our values are better reflected in its ranks.


David M. Schizer
David M. Schizer
Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law
Columbia Law School

From: Sara Bjerg Moller
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 9:10 AM
Subject: Support for ROTC

I support ROTC's return to Columbia and believe it will enrich university life tremendously.

Sara Bjerg Moller
Ph.D. Candidate
Political Science
Columbia University

From: Alexis Schustrom
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 7:50 AM
Subject: ROTC

To whom it may concern,

I am a freshman here at Columbia College. I come from a military family, my dad served a year in Afghanistan and my grandfather served in Vietnam. I fully support the introduction of ROTC on Columbia's campus. I believe that Columbia educated officers in the United States Army  would do nothing but benefit our armed forces and our country.

I've seen plenty of signs around campus declaring that they are against ROTC because they are against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I might not agree with the reasons we are fighting there either but that doesn't mean that I don't STRONGLY support the United States Army and those that are putting there lives on the line repeatedly for us. Putting ROTC at Columbia won't have any effect on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything Columbia educated officers can advocate the feelings and ideals they observed at Columbia in the future.

I think that ROTC is a great program. Columbia treasures it's diversity, it's a school known for it's plethora of unique students. ROTC would only add to this diversity. If I was looking to go to a school that was only open to certain types of uniqueness I'm sure I could have gone to any number of other schools.

Alexis Kay Schustrom

From: Victor Diz
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 7:40 AM

Greetings to All,

In my being a veteran of the U.S. Army (R.O.T.C. Commissioned Officer), former N.Y.P.D. Police Officer and F.D.N.Y. Firefighter, W.T.C. 09/11/2001 Veteran and Retired F.D.N.Y. Fire Marshal/Arson-Homicide Investigator, and currently a graduate student at Columbia University, let it be known that I am in favor of the return of R.O.T.C. to the Manhattan Campus of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Respectfully Submitted for Your Compliance,

Victor R. Diz, M.A.

From: Erin Olson
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 6:38 AM
Subject: I say "no"

To Whom It May Concern:

After reading several other emails regarding this debate, I felt compelled to write to you.  I am a recent graduate of your nursing school.  I should say that I am 3rd generation Navy brat & have had a brother, father, and grandfather who have served our country on the shores of another.  I can also say that I am whole heartedly against ROTC coming to this campus, or any campus for that matter.  It pains me to say this, because I also have a strong feeling that it is not up to the poor of this country to maintain military enrollment, and universities not allowing ROTC seems elitist.  In the same breath, I cannot condone ROTC on the Columbia campus just to not seem elitist.  
This is a campus that thrives on discussions of ideas & noble causes.  
I do believe that the goals of ROTC are not in line with the ideals of the university.

Thank you,
Erin Olson, RN, FNP '11

From: Anonymous
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 2:47 AM
Subject: In Defense of ROTC

To Whom It May Concern:

As a Columbia College graduate and one of the few who attended ROTC off-campus, I feel that I have a unique perspective to offer.

Indeed, I am saddened that there is even a debate about this issue but since it is clear that the university has by no means yet decided what to do, I will offer the following words:

During my time as a student at Columbia, I frequently found myself debating the rest of my classmates who on a whole were on the relative left end of the political spectrum. Conversely, during my 6 years in the military I have found myself on the other side, frequently debating those on the more relative right end of the spectrum. My studies at Columbia provided me with a strong base of values from which to draw upon. Classes such as LitHum and CC and their lessons on social justice and morality are invaluable in the day-to-day dilemmas faced by today’s military officers. In fact, I would argue that the classical education I received best prepared me for situations which one cannot truly ever prepare him or herself. As a Columbia student, I was exposed to a broad cross-section of society and the world as a whole. Those interactions only served to make me a better officer, and not one who was educated solely within the confines of a military academy. By keeping ROTC off campus, Columbia is keeping the military as a separate entity, not integrated with the rest of American society and its beliefs and values. Columbia forces the acceptance of more military academy-educated leaders and then complains if the military has archaic policies and behaves in a right-wing fashion. By keeping ROTC off campus, we are ensuring that Columbia's liberal values never find their way into the military. We forgo encouraging Columbia graduates to become officers in-lieu of making a grand statement against the military.

I say grand statement, because in reality that’s all this is. If Columbia were to lift the ban on ROTC tomorrow, very little would change. Columbia students would still continue to take their ROTC classes off-campus but maybe with less stigma and possibly college credit. The odds that the military would spend the money to open a new ROTC detachment for the handful of Columbians pondering a career in the military are almost negligible. So this debate is really about values. I find it odd that there is a survey on this issue, since as far as I know the university does not survey other matters of principle.

Somehow, opponents of ROTC view the military as separate from the US federal government. Never mind that the military swears its allegiance to the Constitution, or that it’s Congress which passes the laws which govern it or the budgets which pay it or declares the wars it fights.

No, opponents like to see the military as a separate entity which can be blamed for our nations’ wars or injustices. When it is in their interest, these same opponents have no problem accepting aid from that very same federal government which passed (and now repealed) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

In the Ivy League, Columbia University leads the way with the highest percentage of federal Pell grant recipients, 15.9 percent of the undergraduates to be precise. (http://www.jbhe.com/features/65_pellgrants.html). Columbia is also in the top ten schools for Fulbright scholars- indeed I was one of them.

And what about GI grants? That’s money given to veterans who have served in the wars that many opponents of ROTC at Columbia so very much deplore. (http://veteranaffairs.columbia.edu/content/financing-your-education)
Let’s not even talk about the hundreds of millions of dollars the university receives in research funding.
(http://www.nystar.state.ny.us/pr/06/press44-06.htm) No, when it is in Columbia’s financial interest the opposition is silent.

For many years opponents of ROTC could point to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and claim that it was in violation of Columbia University’s policy on discrimination and therefore to maintain the ban. Now that Don’t Ask, Don't Tell has been overturned, opponents are scrambling to find new reasons to keep the ban in place. Doing so would not only be hypocritical, morally wrong, and just plain silly, it would also make me embarrassed to be an alumnus.

Look no further than the letters you received against ROTC for this debate to see why it so important to have an interaction between the military and the university. Comments such as “the military establishment is designed to crush individual and critical thought.” show a level of ignorance that is painful to even read. Presumably the authors of these letters are affiliated with an Ivy League institution, yet in this singular arena for some reason believe that their values of openness, tolerance, and inclusion can be ignored. It was in the name of inclusion and tolerance that the military was banned from campus. Yet now that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy has been overturned, where are those same champions of inclusion?

Feel free to use this letter in your proceedings however, kindly remove any personal information such as my name, rank, and e-mail address as I am currently on Active Duty in a sensitive position.

Thanking you in advance,

From: David Fridson
Sent: Wed 2/23/2011 12:29 AM
Subject: ROTC policy at Columbia University

Dear Fellow Members of the Columbia Community,

Over the past few weeks, I have heard many of you voice concerns about a RoTC presence on campus.  Most of these concerns center on ethical issues with the army at large and I consider many of them to be valid.  Yet I think that extending the ban on RoTC's presence is the wrong way to go about addressing these concerns.

Most of my fellow students have strong reservations about the electoral process, but they vote.  They recognize that participation in the political process is a necessary precondition of changing it.  And I think that restoring RoTC will provide an opportunity for greater participation by Columbia students in the armed forces, which in turn will lead to greater opportunity to bring about the change we desire. 

The army is a vital institution in this country and in many ways can only be changed from within. Military culture is insular and shaped by loyalty and duty to peers as well as superiors.  Since the Vietnam War and more significantly the end of the draft, there has been a growing disconnect between the intellectual establishment and the military.  Both have been seemingly content to wash their collective hands of each other.  Yet I think this development is bad for the military, bad for the academy, and bad for the nation as a whole.  Many of the best, brightest and bravest in our nation go to schools like ours and to discourage them from military service, while noble in its intent to create a more peaceful society, will ultimately prevent many who could make significant and positive change within the armed forces from doing so. 

One need only read Pulitzer Prize winning author Tom Ricks' "The Gamble" to see how much one man can change the culture of the army, to make it not only more effective, but more responsible to civilians, more ethical and more humane.  That one man, General David Petraeus, was an Ivy League graduate as each of us are or will be, and by continuing to ban RoTC we are all but eliminating the chance that the next Petraeus will be drawn from our ranks.  A soldier is undyingly loyal to his or her commanding officer, and only when a commanding officer shares the concerns urgently voiced by my fellow students will they be shared at large by the men and women in uniform who represent us around the world.

- Daniel Fridson, Columbia College '11

From: John Kenney

Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 10:43 PM
Subject: Opinion on ROTC

I just wanted to say that I'm glad that an online survey is being conducted. I feel like the open forum events are likely to bring the people most staunchly in favor of/in opposition to allowing ROTC back on campus, which doesn't adequately represent the views of the majority of students on campus, a view this mainly the following: that though the student would likely not have participated in an ROTC program here (and thus is unlikely to attend an open forum,) he or she does not believe that other students should be prevented from enjoying the benefits of allowing an ROTC program to be run on campus, and also believes that the education Columbia provides through the Core Curriculum could only serve to make those potential officers who attend Columbia some of the best-educated and most thoughtful officers in our entire military.

John Kenney

From: Amy Offner
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 9:35 PM
Subject: ROTC should not return to Columbia

To the University Senate Task Force on Military Engagement:

I oppose bringing ROTC back to Columbia on two grounds:

  1. The military's policy of rejecting transgender people violates Columbia's anti-discrimination policy.
  2. Allowing the armed forces to use Columbia as a training ground would make the university an active supporter of the current use of US military power.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve no such support.  For nearly a decade they have brought injustice to the Middle East, Asia, and the United States itself: death, torture, mental illness, violations of of civil liberties, and the cultivation of racism and nationalism.  They exemplify scandalous practices of US foreign policymakers: their willingness to lie to the public, their disregard for the well-being of foreign civilians and US soldiers, and their refusal to put an end to wars that serve no useful purpose.  These wars remind us of the very reasons that Columbia and other universities rightly expelled ROTC during the 1960s.

Those who propose bringing ROTC back to Columbia make two flawed arguments:

  1. They argue that Columbia graduates will rationalize and humanize decision-making within the military.  The uses of US military power, however, are determined by civilian political figures.  The armed forces, furthermore, are internally hierarchical organizations in which recent college graduates have no real influence.  Finally, I know of no evidence that Columbia graduates are any more rational or humane than other people in the United States, nor that a Columbia education insulates a person from the dehumanizing effects of military training and war.
  2. ROTC advocates argue that the program will bring more working-class students and students of color to Columbia.  I agree that the university should make itself much more accessible to these groups of students.  It should do so by working to defend and expand federal Pell Grants, which for nearly fifty years have offered low-income students access to higher education.  Pell Grants suffered terrible cuts under the Bush administration and face ongoing attacks in Congress.  Working-class students and students of color deserve reasonable financial aid; they should not have to enlist in the military to get an education.


Amy C. Offner
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Columbia University

From: Erin Meyer
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 8:54 PM
Subject: Support for upholding policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity

Dear Senate Taskforce on ROTC,

I write as a student of Columbia College and Columbia Law School to underscore the concerns already set forth in previous email you have received regarding the military's continued discrimination against transgender and gender-variant persons wishing to serve in the military and/or the ROTC. I respect the contributions of the military and the ROTC to the United States and applaud the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," but I still believe Columbia should uphold its policy which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression by not permitting the ROTC to return to campus until it is in compliance with this non-discrimination policy.


Erin M. Meyer

Columbia Law School class of 2011
Columbia College class of 2011
(Accelerated Interdisciplinary Legal Education Program)

From: Elizabeth Irwin
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 8:47 PM

I do not want the ROTC on campus. 

Elizabeth Irwin

From: Ryan Eckles
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 5:46 PM
Subject: Opinion


I am fairly neutral on this issue as I am not politically affiliated with either party and have no personal connection to the military other than a couple high school friends in Afghanistan. After listening to both sides though, I think that there is a much stronger case FOR the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Columbia.

To my knowledge, the University-level argument against ROTC has historically been that the Don't Ask-Don't Tell policy conflicted with established university nondiscrimination policies. Since the repeal, this isn't a problem. Current arguments I have heard are hugely varied in both scope and reasonableness. One is that, by allowing ROTC in, since the military is supported largely by Republicans, that the university would be taking a political stance. While the supporters are usually red, the military itself is run by whichever government holds the Oval Office, so this does not make much sense to me. If I'm wrong there though, denying a group access to the university because it has ties to one party seems like an ad hoc support of the opposite party. In other words, if a group or club that has a liberal bias is allowed, then so should a conservative group. Another contention is that the military discriminates against race. It's true that the percentage of white officers is much higher than the percentage of white enlisted personel, but starting a ROTC program at a school as diverse as Columbia could actually help combat this. If any discrimination did occur on the school level though, it would be handled promptly as Columbia does not put up with that kind of behavior. I've also heard that people are against the entire program because the government spends more money on the military than on education. This is comparing apples to oranges and does not hold any water. Moreso, of the $663 billion dollars spent on the military, $9.5 billion goes towards paying for university tuition through the GI Bill. The total Department of Education spending may only be $47 billion, but that means that about one fifth of all the educational spending in the US comes from the military. Adjusted for the percentage of military to civilian attendees (the amount of people not in the labor force is a good estimate: 10.3 million/83.9 million) makes the military twice as strong of a supporter of education and thus more worthy of incorporation into Columbia.

As far as the argument for ROTC, the underlying theme is that it would help bring highly educated officers into the military, while helping to fund their education. A high percentage of ROTC graduates do go on to serve and as long as the colleges here do not allow a free pass to these students, they will go on to be highly educated. Columbia College, SEAS, Barnard, and General Studies are all very supportive to new students financially, and while it may bring some hassles and an increase in paperwork to the financial aid office, the military grants to students are in line with the fundamental university principles.

My personal argument for the Corps is that any student who has worked hard enough to gain entry into Columbia legitimately deserves to be supported in whatever career they choose to pursue. The point of our liberal arts university is to educate students both broadly enough and deeply enough to be successful in both their chosen career and in their personal life as well. Why should those who choose to go into the military, an incredibly large group, be denied the education to succeed because of political bias or fear of a change from the status quo? Thanks for your time and have a great day.

Aldred Eckles

From: Eugenia Yudanin
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 5:40 PM
Subject: The ROTC Debate

As an alumna of the SGS, I am absolutely outraged by the insults to which Sgt. Maschek was subjected during his remarks.  It is one thing to express one's opinion under the protection of the First Amendment; preventing someone else from expressing his is unacceptable.  How dare these sheltered kids, who have seen nothing of life and as yet have understood nothing about the world we live in, spew hate towards a man of Mr. Maschek's background?  Really, words fail me.
I note that the Columbia magazine for alumni, which the University sends to me regularly along with contribution requests, has lately made a particular point of writing about the veterans who attend the SGS and the heart-warming welcome which they ostensibly receive there.  Apparently, nothing could be farther from the truth!
Shame on the students who insulted Mr. Maschek, and shame on the school that has permitted this abominable spectacle!

Eugenia Yudanin, Esq.
Orloff, Lowenbach, Stifelman & Siegel, P.A.

From: David Gray
Sent: Sun 2/22/2011 2:06 PM
Subject: ROTC

Provost Steele-

I graduated from Columbia in 1996 and am more often than not very proud of my alma mater. However, I find the continued exclusion of ROTC on our campus to be disturbing.

Over the last 10 years I have interviewed well over 100 candidates for admission to Columbia. Every one of them has spoken of our strong belief in diversity as being one of their top reasons for interest. It is disheartening that this source of pride for our school seems to be selective. We will take those of any race, creed, or religious belief, but if a young person wants to study at our school and at the same time prepare for a career in the military they do not seem welcome. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? Or are we saying we welcome diversity as long as it is our brand of diversity?

If nothing else we should honor the memory and service of former President Eisenhower. I wonder how one of the finest Americans in our history would feel about the military being excluded from the campus over which he once presided.

You and Columbia’s other leaders have an opportunity to take a stand. You can make the proud promise of diversity at Columbia to be truth rather than fiction. I came to NYC from a small town in the South, a white, Christian male from an area that had no diversity at all. There was more diversity on the hall of my dorm my freshman year than in the entire county where I had been raised. I learned and grew greatly from this and consider it to be a very valuable part of the education I received. Likewise, I think current and future students could learn something from those pursuing military service to our country.

I appreciate yoru attention to this matter and congratulate you on what has otherwise been a fantastic start to your tenure.

David C. Gray
Scott & Stringfellow

From: Jessica Lovelace-Chandler
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 11:38 AM
Subject: written statement of opinion on ROTC at Columbia

Members of the task-force,

I'd like to speak on behalf of my fellow LGBTQ peers and allies at Columbia.  It is my understanding that the ROTC would be noninclusive of "out" Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer individuals despite the recent legislation against Don't Ask Don't Tell.  If this information is incorrect, then I can think of no reason not to include ROTC at our school.  However, if in fact the ROTC plans to be noninclusive of a certain group of people based solely on those people's gender and sexuality, then I believe the ROTC has no place at Columbia.  The university wouldn't even consider adding a group that disallowed people of a specific race, and I believe that is no different.  Official university groups should be open to all people regardless of inherent qualities like race, gender, or sexual orientation.  Please consider this as you make your decision.

From: Dennis Bogusz
Sent: Tue 2/22/2011 11:35 AM
Subject: For University Senate deliberations on ROTC

As a graduate student in Arts & Sciences who is unable to attend the February 23rd hearing, I kindly request you consider my comments below.

The government's recent repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) provides an encouraging step in the direction of civil rights, specifically by removing a discriminatory policy in the US military. Reinstatement of a formal ROTC program at Columbia, however, should not be automatic.

DADT's repeal does not necessarily entail immediate or complete removal of discrimination against the LGBT community in the military. Historically the military has had a mixed record of discrimination against women and other minorities. Certainly Columbia's potential to provide the military with educated and enlightened soldiers could be a part of ending such discrimination, but the University cannot meet this end alone.  It needs to know exactly how the military will end the discrimination that accompanied DADT.  The University also needs to evaluate the measures the military is taking to uphold Columbia's anti-discrimination principles more broadly, as well as those to specifically protect Columbia affiliates implicated by ROTC.

Should the University reinstate ROTC on campus, there must be a contingency in case of recurring discrimination that goes against Columbia's principles or specific members of the Columbia community. The University must be able to hold ROTC accountable and to not simply defer resolution of such problems to the military.

Reinstatement should also be considered in the broader context of ROTC's absence on Columbia's campus, which predates DADT by decades. We must also recall the many opportunities Columbia already provides current and former members of the military such as the General Studies program, preferential admission and funding for veterans, leaves of absence for military duty, etc.  Moreover, Columbia might not host ROTC on campus, but it hardly prevents students from participating in ROTC programs off campus.

The politicization of ROTC did not suddenly evaporate with DADT's repeal:  future administrations could still threaten to withhold Federal funding for research at Columbia as previous ones have done. DADT's repeal could potentially deepen University-military relations, but I doubt that goal is one we share as a Columbia community.

Dennis Bogusz
SIPA (MIA) '02
PhD Candiate
Department of Sociology
Columbia University

From: Daro Behroozi
Sent: Mon 2/21/2011 6:40 PM
Subject: No to ROTC at Columbia

I would like to express my opposition to the return of ROTC to Columbia. The U.S. is currently involved in wars of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. Providing academic credit for ROTC programs at Columbia would do absolutely nothing to change this situation. In fact, it would be providing academic credit for training people to act as members of an occupying force. The role of a civilian institution of higher learning is not to train members of the military to kill people in wars that have nothing to do with the safety of the American people. It is to cultivate critical minds, many of which will be put to use developing peaceful solutions to the world's problems.

Daro Behroozi
CC 2012

From: Jeremy Newman
Sent: Mon 2/21/2011 6:27 PM
Subject: Task Force on Military Engagement

Dear Task Force Members,

While there are many things that must be taken into account when deciding whether to reestablish a ROTC program at Columbia, there is one question that rises above the rest: What type of military officer do you want acting in your name? Do you want someone that has proven to be highly intelligent? Do you want someone that has been exposed to a variety of opinions? Someone that has studied at one of the premier universities in the world? Someone that understands the various cultural and political conditions that they will be operating in? You obviously value the education and experiences that you are receiving at Columbia. But do you think this education and similar experiences would help develop a better military leader? As a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom I can tell you I believe they will.

Our men and women in uniform are now asked to do more than simply defeat the enemy. One time they are the first on the scene to offer humanitarian aid during disasters and the next they are sitting with tribal elders helping with economic development. They build schools and medical clinics. They train foreign militaries to be professional, disciplined and respectful of civilian rule. They act is arbitrators in conflicts. Some a required to become experts on boosting agricultural productivity. To accomplish all these competing priorities you need a well rounded education and a strong support system, both of which Columbia provides.

While studying at SIPA another classmate was asked for help in drafting an economic development plan for an area in southwest Baghdad by a friend of his that was in charge of reconstruction. This officer wasn't trained to develop such a plan. My classmate rounded up a group of us that set about accomplishing this task. We completed our document and sent it along hoping for the best. What we did not learn until much later is before implementing our plan attacks in the area were between 3 and  5 a day, after they were less than one per month. Now imagine this officer had the same education we did. How many attacks could have been avoided? How many lives could have been saved? How many lives would it need to be for it to be worth it to you for that officer to have that educational opportunity? One life is enough for me.

Before closing let me say that in my experience there is only one group of people that is allowed to be discriminated against at Columbia. That group is our military service members and veterans. It is this group that has had to stand by while an assistant professor called for "a million Mogadishus." (A reference to a battle where 19 US service members were killed, 73 wounded and 1 captured.) What other group on campus would this professor be allowed to advocate killing without the slightest disciplinary action taking place? Where in 2006 a student was called a "baby killer" for having served in the Marine Corps. I needn't remind you of the despicable behavior by members of the student body this past week during this panel's town hall. Maybe if the university was more inclusive of this underrepresented group some of this discrimination would disappear. A ROTC program would go a long way in accomplishing this task.

I hope you choose to strengthen the Columbia community by reestablishing a ROTC.

Kind Regards,

Jeremy Newman
SIPA '08
US Army 2003-2006

From: Kate Woods
Sent: Mon 2/21/2011 3:03 PM
Subject: Columbia ROTC

Dear Members of Columbia University Community:

Let not 2011 be the year that Columbia University failed to live up to our espoused ideals of tolerance, respect and open-mindedness.  Let not 2011 be the year we were so short sighted as to cast aside the valuable intellect and esteemed perseverance of numerous current and prospective students simply because they, our fellow intellectually curious and academically inclined compatriots have answered their call to serve our country in a way that others of us have not.  We must consider carefully not only the injustice to the individual but also the detriment to our beloved University.

The current ban on ROTC activities has no doubt cost us something.  Not least of which is a lack of diversity in life and political  perspectives that help foment rigorous intellectual discourse.  Moreover, we run the risk of losing stellar academic candidates both in the short and long term; leaving a generic pool of "group think" candidates from which to cull subsequent incoming first years. 

My father grew up in the projects of Philadelphia.  At 18 he volunteered to serve in the US Army and went to Vietnam.  He was smart; he went through Officer Training and became a Commissioned Officer.  During his tour, as a First Lieutenant he was responsible for the men, or more accurately boys, under his command.  His ability to think on his feet and to understand not only immediate needs but long term strategy allowed him to save the lives of his soldiers though he left his tour wounded and weighing 115 pounds at 6'4" inches.  He came home.  He attended a state college and law school at night, paid for through the GI bill.  He married. The marriage produced five children. He divorced, remarried and helped raise three step-children. He raised his children to seek to learn and to understand and to question authority.  He asked for excellence; not mindless adherence to his idealogical, political or religious views.  This open-mindedness in concert with hard work produced the following:

  • Seven of his children obtained a college degree
  • Four of his children obtained graduate degrees at the Master or Doctorate level
  • Two of  his children attended Ivy League schools simultaneously with the chid of a US President
  • Two of his children are openly gay; three have married or entered into committed relationships with partners outside their racial, ethnic and religious groups of origination
  • All of his children fall somewhere along the political spectrum ranging from fiscal conservative to ultimate liberal

This is just one family, and in the world we live in today, perhaps not all that unusual.  It is offered here as an example of the type of intellectually capable, tolerant and interesting students we risk losing forever if we continue to deny access to our University and all it has to offer to our fellow academic travelers due to participation in ROTC.  A student denied access to this institution is not likely to   have progeny interested in attending at a later date, no matter the latter's idealogical perspective.  The argument that Columbia students may participate in ROTC activities off campus is a weak one at best.  Would we ask our students participating in other extracurricular groups to assemble elsewhere?  In denying ROTC activity on campus, we lose not only the immediate benefits ROTC candidates have to offer our institution, we lose the opportunity to obtain some of the best and brightest minds our society has to offer in later years.

Setting aside the personal,  if we continue to disallow ROTC activity on campus under the premise that the US military is not open to the transgendered community and/or is abusive to women then in order to avoid hypocrisy, we must now disallow any and all teaching and academic faculty positions to be filled by anyone openly practicing the Islamic and Catholic religions as well as some sects of Judaism.  Further, all visiting lectures from countries that amongst other human rights violations forbid women the right to vote, to drive and to walk about in public absent total veiling (even in unendurable and death-inducing temperatures) must be prohibited.  And, in so doing we will destroy the very climate we seek to sustain here.  Columbia University will cease to be an academic institution where rigorous  intellectual discourse occurs and where the ideal of tolerance is truly alive.


Kate Woods
EMPH 2011
This communication may be shared I ask simply that I be notified of its posting and that it be posted in its entirety.

From: Margaret Ricks
Sent: Mon 2/21/2011 1:31 PM
Subject: In favor of ROTC

I graduated from Barnard in 1974, and did plenty of anti-war demonstrating in my time. However, I do think that Columbia should welcome ROTC back on its campus. One can be anti-war without being against those who serve in country's military. No one thinks that war is a good thing. I wonder why those of us who graduated and continue to support Columbia were not invited to vote?

Best wishes, in any case,

Margaret Ricks, BA in Middle Eastern languages and cultures, Barnard class of 1974