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: Jose Robledo
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 11:54 PM
Subject: My ROTC

I want to start this conversation by saying that this debate is not about who is right and who is wrong. This conversation is about sacrifice. It is about the sacrifice of lives in the line of duty and service. It is about the sacrifice of students and faculty giving up their nights and weekends to fight for what they believe in. It is about the simple idea that every person from every party has the best intentions in mind and hopes that the outcome of the struggle is a better world.

Here, at Columbia University, we are not known for going quietly into the night. This is not Harvard or Stanford. Here, we embody sacrifice and hard work, struggle and dedication. Since Admiral Mullen?s visit in April of last year, we have been the superheated melting pot at center stage for months, in terms of military engagement. If 1968 was the introductory clause of our conversation with the military, let today be the period. Let today show that the University community will stand for its principals and fight for what we believe to be right.

I firmly believe that ROTC, at Columbia Universtiy, is an extension of our ideals because the cadets will be our students. They already are. They are the students who with we share dorm rooms and classrooms.

They are in our student groups, our athletic teams and student government. More importantly, they will be our leaders in the world?s most influential military. They will be our ground commanders overseas. They are an extension of our will into government. They carry the seed of what it means to be a Columbian, the bitter contest of the most divergent groups only city like New York could forge together, into their service. If we not only allow ROTC on campus, but open their classrooms to the rest of the community we can show what our military leaders learn and we can use that knowledge to better build relationships with those who will go into service.


Jose Robledo
Columbia University, Economics-Political Science

From: Michael Segal
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 10:55 PM
Subject: An eleventh hour issue raised about whether Columbia would be offered ROTC

An issue has come up this evening as to whether Columbia would be offered ROTC.  We’ve added an Advocates for ROTC issues pages on the subject:


Issue: If top colleges ask for ROTC programs, will any be offered?

Instance of the issue: Days before the Columbia University Senate is scheduled to begin deliberations on ROTC, a New York City local news web site "DNAinfo" obtained a quote from an Army ROTC Cadet Command spokesman about a possible request from Columbia for an ROTC program "Army ROTC would certainly entertain the request, just like we would from any other school, but right now, there are no plans to expand ... We're in a constrained resource environment. It's safe to say we don't have any plans to start any new programs."

Facts:  It is by no means clear that all top colleges would be offered on-campus ROTC programs for all three services: Army, Navy and Air Force.  However, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said at Harvard on 17 November 2010 "I think it is incredibly important to have ROTC units at institutions like this.  I think President Faust has made it very clear and I certainly would do all in my power to make that happen."  President Barack Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union speech "I call on all of 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". 

The scenario being taken most seriously for Columbia is getting a Navy ROTC program. The Navy is currently the only service for which Columbia students have no cross-town opportunity, there is no Navy ROTC program within reasonable commuting time from Manhattan and the number of ROTC programs per million people in New York City is strikingly low.  The Navy needs students with a background in engineering, a strength at Columbia due to its School of Engineering and Applied Science.  Furthermore, the DNAinfo article notes that "The Army wants to diversify its officer corps to match changes in the country's population as a whole, meaning it's looking for more Latino officers" and Manhattan has high numbers of Latino students, not just at Columbia, but even more so at other nearby colleges that would probably be included in a new program involving Columbia.

Days before the 2005 Columbia University Senate vote on ROTC there was a similar report of an ROTC official elicited by ROTC opponents saying that ROTC was "not planning to open any new detachments", yet many new ROTC programs have been started since then and there are unofficial reports that the military is actively looking at opportunities to open ROTC programs in New York City.

From: Michael Thaddeus
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 10:22 PM
Subject: Against the return of ROTC

To the ROTC Task Force: 

The re-establishment of ROTC on campus should be opposed by all Columbians, regardless of politics, as an unacceptable encroachment on our independence as an academic institution.  If you are inclined to disagree, try a thought experiment.  Suppose that officials of the Catholic Church, or the Sierra Club, or Goldman Sachs -- or indeed any institution outside of academia -- approach President Bollinger and offer to endow a generous system of scholarships for Columbia undergraduates.  "But," they tell him, "we insist on a few conditions: we expect to appoint our own people to Columbia professorships, and we expect them to teach Columbia classes following a curriculum that we design and approve."  President Bollinger would, of course, quickly show them the door.  As a university, we prize our independence, our freedom of critical speech, and we will not be co-opted by another organization to advance its agenda.

But that is exactly the deal we would make with the military under ROTC.

Why is the military any different?

There is one salient difference.  Namely, many of us seem to feel that criticism of the military is inherently unpatriotic, that it is wrong to call the probity of the military into question.  The main reason for this feeling is, I think, not hard to discern.  For unlike other organizations, the military relies on the willingness of ordinary people to make extraordinary sacrifices: literally to lay down their lives.  To criticize the military, many feel, risks damaging service members' morale. 

Yet that is exactly why Columbia should remain institutionally separate from the military.  In a climate that discourages criticism of the military, such criticism is especially necessary.  We are committed to free inquiry and free debate.  We seek freedom to criticize all social institutions, including the military.  A healthy society encourages and benefits from such discussion.  We aim to criticize, not in a destructive or corrosive spirit, but in the most positive sense.  We cannot do this if the military is embedded within our structure.  We intend no rancor toward service members, and they understand this.  We welcome their presence and their perspectives on military matters.

But we want no entanglement with the institutions of the military.  We value our independence, and we insist on our independence. 

Sincerely yours,

Michael Thaddeus

Associate Professor of Mathematics

From: Alex Munoz
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 8:24 PM
Subject: ROTC and Columbia

My name is Alex Munoz, Columbia College Class of 2002 and I wanted to offer a short email to express my thoughts on ROTC returning to Columbia, especially as I, like many interested, was unable to attend the last town hall because of seating limitations.

Critics of ROTC have repeatedly brought up the notion that individual Columbia graduates would have little effect on the military as a whole, that they would be unable to change or influence such a hierarchical institution. What they miss is the increasingly decentralized aspect of today's wars and the wars of the future, which in conducting counterinsurgency operations (COIN), bestow increasing levels of responsibility and authority on young lieutenants and company commanders and often their subordinates. It is as new platoon leaders and company commanders that uncountable decisions are made throughout today's battlefields, from meeting and interacting with Afghan locals to responding to enemy attacks to working with NGOs and partnered agencies and more. And as such a junior leader, these officers have a tremendous role in helping shape and mold the enlisted men and women that serve with them, setting the proper tone for their platoons and companies and how these individuals represent our nation.

And it is at the ground-level, where competent,  intellectually curious, and moral leaders most matter, where their front-line actions everyday interacting with local villages, most shape and influence and our wars, as opposed to the composition of generals and elected officials so far removed from the battlefield. This is no small responsibility, but Columbia's education, its culture of continuing striving for knowledge, is excellent preparation.

And I say this all as a recent veteran of Afghanistan where I had the honor of serving with the 101st Airborne Division in both Paktika and Kandahar. I was lucky enough to serve as the head of our new Company Intelligence Support Team (COIST), where I routine interacted with Afghan locals and our Afghan security partners while I worked to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence. My role was a vital one, directly influencing operations while often serving as our face to the people, taking up the lead role in many of our local interactions. And I succeeded admirably, earning the praise of many of my superiors and peers, largely because of the background, knowledge, wisdom, and relentless curiosity I obtained at Columbia. I was a better Soldier, diplomat, representative, and person while serving in Afghanistan because of Columbia, because of the Core Curriculum and my professors (in particular, professors Marten, Betts, and Schilling).

And Columbia's world-wide reputation instantly gave me a higher level of influence and respect among those decision-makers and officers above me in the chain-of-command.

No, Columbia ROTC grads won't go on to save the world in one fell swoop. They won't transform the military because of a quick change here or there. And they won't magically create a new culture in the Armed Forces. But in the increasingly less hierarchical wars of today and tomorrow, Columbia ROTC grads will increasingly have the opportunity to affect changes on the margins, deciding which villages to patrol and raid, what local citizens to trust or not, and setting the tone for their young enlisted men and women. And it is those small but important  - and often life and death decisions - that are enough and part of the reason I support the return of ROTC to Columbia University. 

Warmest Regards,
Alex Munoz

From: Katherine M. Franke
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 7:26 PM
Subject: Letter to the Taskforce

To The Task Force and the Columbia Community:                                                                                              

I write to express my strong objections to the reinstatement of ROTC at Columbia University.  While I applaud Congress, President Obama, and the Department of Defense’s recent efforts to undertake the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, the specter of this discriminatory policy’s repeal does not, alone, justify the suspension of Columbia’s objections to the on-campus integration of civilian and military education.  The University resolved in 1969 to terminate its campus-based relationship with ROTC for reasons independent of the military’s overt policy of sexual orientation-based discrimination.  The concerns about an academic relationship with the military raised 42 years ago have not been eliminated.  Indeed, as I will explain below, they are compounded by additional grounds for rejecting the return of ROTC to the Morningside Heights campus.

The ideal of the civilian university is premised upon inquiry and critical analysis that values, for its own sake, a kind of curiosity that can be anarchic, disorderly, chaotic, blasphemous, anti-authoritarian and even treasonous.  Military training, on the other hand, privileges linear, rational, disciplined, authority-respecting and strategic modes of reasoning.  In theory, a university could accommodate both of these modes of learning, thinking and judgment, but in practice I worry about what it means to diversify the academic environment through a military presence. What concerns me about re-instituting an official pedagogical relationship to the military through ROTC is the degree to which universities such as Columbia remain one of the last domains of civil society that is not influenced directly by and conscripted into the investments and values of the military industrial complex, to borrow a term from one of Columbia University's most illustrious past-Presidents Dwight Eisenhower.  This is an important value for its own sake and justifies maintaining Columbia’s now long-standing commitment to the values of a civilian education.

In conversation about these issues with other colleagues at the Law School, some have argued in support of the reinstatement of ROTC on the ground that modern military training is more supple and sophisticated than how it is often portrayed by its critics.  “The relationship between the chain of command and an individual officer's own judgment is a topic of deep study and reflection among military scholars and at military education institutions like West Point,” one member of the law faculty put it to me.  While it may be true that in principle the military chain of command is more nimble and reflective than the picture painted by some of the opponents to ROTC, these advancements in military training and judgment are just that, principles or ideals.  In practice, the realization of this ideal for, among others, gay people and women in the armed forces has been a profound disappointment.  The frequency of homophobic and gender-based violence against women and men in the armed services has not decreased as a consequence of the purported modernization of the command structure.  Instead, the Pentagon’s own studies documented a double-digit increase in reported sexual assault last year.  Rather than rendering the chain of command more responsive to these incidents of violence, the state of the art officer corps training seems to result in a structure that is increasingly less sensitive or responsive to complaints of sexual violence.

Just last week a federal court action was filed in Virginia against the Department of Defense and Secretary Robert Gates alleging numerous, ongoing incidents of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence against women and men in the military.  One of the plaintiffs stated: “The policies that are put in place are extremely ineffectual. There was severe maltreatment in these cases, and there was no accountability whatsoever. And soldiers in general who make any type of complaint in the military are subject to retaliation and have no means of defending themselves.” The suit claims that the plaintiffs pursued proper channels within the chain of command to address documented incidents of sexual violence, including rape.  The complainants were punished for doing so, and the alleged perpetrators were protected by the command structure.  These actions took place after the Department of Defense failed to implement congressionally mandated procedures for preventing and addressing sexual harassment and violence.

Similar incidents of violence against members of the armed forces who were thought to be gay or lesbian have received equally negligent, if not intentionally hostile, response from the chain of military command for years. 

With or without DADT, the military and its attendant culture of violence has been a brutal "employer" for women and gay people, as have the service academies been a brutal “place of learning” according to their own internal studies.  Any other institution that routinely acquiesced in, if not condoned, such sexual violence and harassment by peers, supervisors, and educators would be barred from recruiting and training our students on campus - or at least I would hope so.            

Beyond my doubts about the degree to which military training and its emphasis on the chain of command actually encourages the exercise of good, critical judgment, I have larger reservations about the increased militarization of the University through the full presence of ROTC on campus.  The present conversation about allowing ROTC back on campus is not simply for me a question of gay rights, it involves a much older and deeper concern about the relationship of the military to the civilian university that has a particular history at Columbia.  Now, as a generation ago, I would object to the conferral of Columbia University credit for ROTC courses taught by instructors who have not received an academic appointment.  Now, as a generation ago, I would object to the furnishing of space and related facilities to the military for the administration of the ROTC program.  Now, as a generation ago, I would object to the integration of military training and values into the fabric of civilian teaching, learning and research at Columbia.


Katherine M. Franke
Professor of Law
Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law
Columbia Law School

From: Jonathan T. Koevary
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 7:03 PM
Subject: Columbia Needs ROTC On Campus

President Bollinger:

The time has come for Columbia University to invite the Reserve Officers' Training Corps ("ROTC") to campus. I write in a personal capacity as a practicing lawyer and a Columbia graduate (GS '01). ROTC's presence is critical for three distinct reasons:

First, ROTC strengthens Columbia in presenting itself as an invaluable option for students either considering careers of military service or simply looking to broaden their horizons. Allowing students to participate in ROTC as part of their Columbia experience, regardless of whether they eventually serve, is every much a part of a vibrant liberal arts education as any course offered by the University.

Second, we as a nation are all served when the United States military has the opportunity to choose its officers from the best and brightest students. It makes no sense, when considering the interests of national defense, to close the military's highest ranks to the nation's leading students and thinkers.

Finally, because the nation has always been committed to civilian leadership of its military, it is critical, as a matter of national interest, that the leaders of the military and the future leaders of the civilian world are afforded an opportunity to associate with one another in order to cultivate a responsible dialogue. Sheltering students from the military does them no good- for those who are predisposed against the military, this sheltering only serves to promote misconceptions. Neither does this cleavage serve the nation: ultimately, for our system to work, it is in everyone's interest that the holder of the sword continues to place its trust in the holder of the pen. Only through dialogue and mutual respect and understanding can this be achieved. Columbia is in position to offer that to its students and to the nation.


Jonathan T. Koevary

From: Michael Segal
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 6:08 PM
Subject: Analysis of "military and low income" issue

We’ve added to the Advocates for ROTC issues pages one about the “military and low income” issue, based on comments in the first Task Force Town Hall meeting:

Myth: The military exploits low-income people by trying to get them to enlist

Instance of the myth: At a community forum of Columbia's ROTC Task Force, one person who got up to comment objected to ROTC because, "The military recruits among low-income areas specifically". 

Facts: People in the military tend to be "middle class", as can be seen in Figure 1 in a study released in 2010 by the National Priorities Project.  The income graph shows fewer people from higher and lower income groups, with the bulk in the middle. 

Part of the reason for the low numbers of people from low income levels is the military's selection criteria.  An article in ArmyTimes relates that "only 4.7 million of the 31.2 million 17- to 24-year-olds in a 2007 survey are eligible to enlist" and that "According to the Pentagon, the ineligible population breaks down this way":

  • Medical/physical problems, 35 percent.
  • Illegal drug use, 18 percent.
  • Mental Category V (the lowest 10 percent of the population), 9 percent.
  • Too many dependents under age 18, 6 percent.
  • Criminal record, 5 percent.

Some of these issues could account for the under-representation in the military of people from low-income areas.  If indeed it is true that the military is trying harder to sign people up in low-income areas, this affirmative action is not keeping up with the challenges. 

People from high-income areas are also under-represented in the military.  One reason for this is that many top colleges have effectively barred ROTC.

It is not clear why the difficulty in getting qualified recruits from low-income areas should be used as an argument against having ROTC at colleges that attract students from high-income areas.

Some of the other issues pages submitted in an earlier email have also been updated significantly.  Latest versions are at www.advocatesforrotc.org/issues/

Michael Segal MD’83 PhD’82

From: Barry Weinberg
Sent: Wed 3/2/2011 12:08 AM
Subject: ROTC

I would like to go on the record as opposed to inviting the Reserve Officer Training Corp to Columbia University.  There have been many reasons for this decision, foremost among them being that the ROTC program would discriminate against students whose gender expression and identity the program and military find to be unacceptable.  Columbia University, in its Equal Educational Opportunity and Student Nondiscrimination Policies has committed itself to not discriminating against any the administration of any of its policies and programs “on the basis of race, color, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), pregnancy, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, military status, or any other legally protected status.”  This has been interpreted by some proponents of ROTC’s return that Columbia only prohibits illegal discrimination, but it is obvious that the University has committed itself to not discriminating against students based on categories in addition to those prohibited by law.  Were Columbia to choose to violate its own policies in inviting the ROTC program to Columbia, it would not only compromise its core values to an academic community in which all participants are guaranteed to be judged solely by their ideas and abilities, and not by their identities, but it would maliciously devalue transgender students’ rights with regard to those of gay and lesbian students.  This is because in 2004 and 2005, when the University Senate last took a vote on inviting ROTC, it chose to do so in no small part because, as President Bollinger said, “The university has an obligation, deeply rooted in the core values of an academic institution and in First Amendment principles, to protect its students from improper discrimination and humiliation.”  To assume that this does hold true for some protected identities but not for other identities included in the same policy is illogical and unacceptable.  There is a reason that gay and lesbian students often speak of themselves as members of an LGBTQ community, to suddenly imagine that gay and lesbian students are the only students in the LGBTQ community is absurd.

What’s more, while I find the proponents of ROTC talk a lot about economic diversity for the campus, I find that much more improvement in this regard could be made by improving financial aid.  I do not actually believe that this is the reason that many support inviting ROTC.  Rather, I think that the reason is, as one prominent proponent, Jose Robledo, said on NY1’s Inside City Hall, “It’s not a question of the hassel…it’s more of a symbolic engagement that would happen on campus.”  Students who feel strongly about the military and who may be unhappy with the idea that some outside of Columbia view Columbia as somehow “anti-military” not only overlook the amazing job the School of General Studies does in welcoming veterans, but are ultimately asking those outside the Columbia community to make uninformed judgments about our attitudes and force us to respond to those judgments and accusations.  Allowing discrimination against Columbia students just to “symbolize” engagement with the military is an atrocious suggestion that devalues transgender students at Columbia.

Finally, I would like to call into question the process and procedure by which this solicitation of student input has been conducted.  The “Taskforce on Military Engagement” was explicitly told not to explore ways of military engagement at Columbia, but more narrowly to simply focus on the return of the ROTC program.  Ron Mazor, one of the co-chairs, has said task force members were chosen in part for their ability to remain neutral on the issue, but one prominent member, Prof. Jim Applegate, has in the past and currently taken an active position in lobbying for ROTC to be invited back.  These issues, as well as general confusion about the task force, its rushed timeline, the deliberate exclusion of many of the graduate students, and the format of the town halls, which discouraged dialogue and encouraged soundbytes, all call into question the real quality of debate and the level of information of the University community regarding the issue.

The past month’s proceedings have ultimately threatened Columbia’s commitment to nondiscrimination, a commitment deeply rooted in academic freedoms and First Amendment principles, all for the sake of some symbolic rapprochement with the military.  I urge the University Senate and the Columbia community as a whole to reject such machinations designed to undermine our core principles, and oppose the return of ROTC to Columbia. 

Thank you,

Barry Weinberg
Columbia College 2012

From: Fatima Mojaddedi
Sent: Tue 3/1/2011 9:03 PM

I am writing to communicate my opposition to the reinstatement of ROTC, a privatized contract awarded to Military Professional Resources Incorporated and an alarming example of how warfare is being  privatized.

Fatima Mojaddedi
PhD Student
Department of Anthropology
Columbia University

From: Anonymous
Sent: Tue 3/1/2011 4:50 PM
Subject: In Support of ROTC


If possible, I would appreciate if you deleted my name from the bottom of this email before posting it online.

I am a recent alumnus of Columbia, having graduated from CC in 2010. I joined the Army in January 2011, have been drilling with a Reserve unit since, and will leave for three years of active duty service this September. I would like to offer my strong support for inviting ROTC to return to Columbia's campus.

From my short time in the Army, and my acquaintances on and off-campus with veterans and those currently serving, I believe that military service, particularly as an officer, offers a number of substantial benefits to those who choose this lifestyle. There are very few institutions where an individual can graduate from a university at the age of 22, and, after a relatively short training program, be responsible for leading a platoon of over thirty individuals, whether in combat, training the armed forces of nations allied with the United States, serving in UN peacekeeping billets, or responding to natural disasters around the world. This experience breeds indispensable qualities of leadership, courage, perseverance and discipline in the individual concerned. Particularly in the officer corps, where a Lieutenant may be responsible for working with tribal or village leaders from very different backgrounds to provide basic services, creativity, critical thinking, and cross-cultural exchange are fundamental to success. Individuals who claim that a military presence on campus will stifle discussion, are therefore, I believe, mistaken.

If ROTC had been on campus while I was an undergraduate, I certainly would have joined. Not only would it have helped me to defray the cost of tuition, but participation in ROTC (especially the first two years, during which, if one does not accept scholarship money, one is not committed to joining) would have allowed me to "try out" the military before committing myself to service for the next three to four years. Additionally, because of the way military billeting works, participating in ROTC would have allowed me more choice in my Military Occupational Specialty, or job, in the Army.  I would have participated in the program at Fordham, however I found that the scheduling of their classes and time it would have taken to commute there would have prevented me from taking courses required for graduation. I personally know seven members of the classes of 2009 and 2010 who accepted Officer commissions in the armed forces and did not participate in ROTC, as well as two more in the class of 2011 who are heading down a similar path. From my conversations with some of these individuals, I believe that the presence of ROTC on campus would have impacted their decision-making processes and careers in a similar way.

I understand, and am sympathetic to the arguments of those who raise issues of discrimination against transgender individuals in the armed forces. It should be recognized, though, that some of these concerns may be impossible to address. Especially if transgender individuals were undergoing a gender transition while in service, they may depend on extensive medical and psychological support, including reconstructive surgery, hormone therapy, or psychological counseling. Such resources are often unavailable in combat or similar austere environments. I sincerely hope and believe that the military will take steps to resolve this issue in the future. However, I do not believe that this issue should prevent the university from inviting ROTC to return to campus. A military is supposed to reflect the society it defends, and the presence of individuals from institutions like Columbia and the other Ivies in leadership positions can be the impetus for positive change in the military in the future.


From: Columbia GendeRevolution
Sent: Tue 3/1/2011 4:18 PM
Subject: GendeRevolution: Letter on the Reserve Officers Training Corps

Dear members of the task force,

    As Columbia’s undergraduate transgender and gender non-conforming rights organization, GendeRevolution is committed foremost to ensuring the safety and protection of all students on Columbia’s campus, regardless of sex, gender identity, or gender expression. We are therefore profoundly troubled at the prospect of the return of the Reserve Officers Training Corps to this institution: the United States military continues to forbid the privilege of service to transgender citizens, even with the repeal of the notorious “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law forbidding service to gay and lesbian persons. Not only is this provision against transgender servicepersons included in the Uniform Code of Military Justice; thepetition/regainingyourrighttovote/  military’s Anti-Harassment Plan also fails to cover attacks against a service member’s perceived or real gender identity; and numerous medical procedures such as prostate exams, pap smears, and mammograms are routinely denied to transgender veterans.
    This discrimination is no less pernicious than that carried out against gay and lesbian citizens before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and violates to the letter the same non-discrimination policy, which could neither be clearer in its protections of persons on the basis of gender identity, nor on the unlimited extent of the policy’s own applicability. As it reads,

[Columbia University] does not discriminate against or permit harassment of employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), pregnancy, religion, creed, national origin, age, alienage and citizenship, status as a perceived or actual victim of domestic violence, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, arrest record, or any other legally protected status. (Emphasis added.)

The statement furthermore reads,

 All members of the University community are expected to adhere to the applicable policies and to cooperate with the procedures for responding to complaints of discrimination and harassment. … Management and supervisory personnel in particular are responsible for taking reasonable and necessary action to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace and for responding promptly and thoroughly to any such claims.

The implications of the policy are unambiguous: the university cannot countenance discriminatory action taken on its behalf towards any person for reason of any identity or status that it has judged thoroughly non-salient for taking such action.
    The University Senate’s past decisions—most notably, that taken in 2005 on this very issue—reflect an understanding of the commitment that the non-discrimination policy carries, as then-Provost Alan Brinkley made clear in reporting his own thoughts on the possible return of ROTC to campus. But many recently seem to have suffered from a fit of amnesia, or else think the case of transgender students disanalogous to that of gay and lesbian students, for reasons as yet unclear. Some have contended that a relevant difference exists between categories because being transgender implies a medical condition on the basis of which the military may well be in the right to discriminate. Such people point in particular to the inclusion of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), as well as to the heavy toll that transitional surgery can take on one undergoing it. These arguments are based in a flawed understanding of what it means to be transgender—one against which we as trans students and allies have constantly to militate—that at one and the same time puts itself forward as scientific and yet bears little relationship to scientific reality. First, to identify as transgender does not imply that one will undergo a surgical or hormonal transition. Second, and more importantly, the inclusion of Gender Identity Disorder in the DSM ought to be seen more as a symptom of the social stigma that surrounds being transgender rather than as scientific authority on the status and effect of being transgender on one’s psychological health. Let us not forget that, until 1986, homosexuality was itself listed as a disorder in the very same document. Being transgender is a disorder in the trivial, unimportant, and question-begging sense that it is defined as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
    We are profoundly worried about what the University Senate’s embrace of the return of the United States military in the form of the Reserve Officers Training Core will entail for the University’s respect of its own non-discrimination policy and its treatment of its transgender students. We anticipate that, if an exception to the policy can be made in the case of one organization, there is no reason why such exceptions should not be made in the case of other organizations; moreover, if an exception can be made on the basis of one identity, there is no reason why such exceptions cannot be made on the basis of any other. It therefore becomes unclear in what sense the University will even have a policy if the institution permits such an arbitrary exception to its application; and, with one exception granted, no reason exists as to why others should not follow. We ask the University Senate to consider the power they hold over the students of this university; we hope that they keep similarly in mind who happens to be most vulnerable, most in need of protection in this debate; and we beg that they not dispatch with those very protections to which transgender students are indebted and under whose auspices we conduct our lives and studies at this institution.
The GendeRevolution Executive Board.

From: Leslie E Roberts
Sent: Tue 3/1/2011 2:03 PM
Subject: Email submission in favor of ROTC

Dear University Senate Task Force on Military Engagement:

I am a 2009 graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CUSSW), where I was President of the Student Union my second year, and am currently employed at CUSSW as the Program Coordinator in the Department of Advising.

I am strongly in favor of the return of ROTC to Columbia’s campus.With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Armed Services has officially ended the odious policy of discrimination that deeply bothered so many Americans and justly led campuses across the country to ban ROTC from their campuses.Consequently, to continue to disallow Columbia students from serving their country by keeping ROTC off-campus would be another, equally insidious form of discrimination.The reasoning behind opponents’
continued stand against ROTC is arbitrary and subjective; it is likely also shared by only a minority of the members of the Columbia community.

Our country’s military, comprised solely of volunteers, has acquitted itself magnificently over the last decade and stands as one of the United States’ greatest symbols of democracy.The armed forces have performed with distinction under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting to ensure that Americans remain safe from terrorists bent on bringing another 9/11-like catastrophe to our shores.They deserve our respect and admiration for their sacrifice.

If a Columbia community member desires to serve his or her country, they should be able to do so without shame or fear on our campus, rather than being made to feel like a second-class citizen, met with opprobrium by fellow students or forced to visit a nearby campus to carry out their duties and studies.

I am proud to be an American and thankful for all of the rights our Constitution provides.As such, I welcome this debate and only hope that it does not again devolve into a situation like the recent heckling of the wounded veteran who spoke in favor of ROTC on our campus.I urge the committee to not abrogate the rights of those who wish to serve by keeping ROTC off campus.Let students have the ability to decide whether or not they wish to serve.Our military members are fighting to provide similar such choices to Iraqis and Afghans.We should venerate rather than demonize or sideline those young people who wish to do the same.


Leslie E. Roberts, MSW

From: EAAH Archives
Sent: Tue 3/1/2011 1:33 PM
Subject: Everyone Allied Against Homophobia Official Statement on Efforts to Invite the Reserve Officers Training Corp to Establish a Program at Columbia

The below statement is EAAH's official position on the issue of inviting ROTC to Columbia, and has been approved by our executive board and our general body:

Everyone Allied Against Homophobia is strongly opposed to extending an invitation to the Reserve Officers Training Corp to Columbia University, as the ROTC currently discriminates against students based on gender identity and expression.  This violates  the Columbia University Equal Education Opportunity and Student Nondiscrimination Policy by barring transgender students from participation in a University program.  There can be no debate about inviting the return of a program that is in violation of already established University policies against discrimination on the basis of identity, rather than solely on the basis of individual merit.

Particularly, EAAH objects to the notion that a public debate over Columbia’s engagement with the military has among its possible outcomes the return of the Reserve Officers Training Corp.  In 2005, the University Senate overwhelmingly rejected the suggestion to invite ROTC to return to campus, with many citing the fact that both ROTC and the military discriminated against Columbia’s LGBT students.  Even with Congressional repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, ROTC clearly violates the Columbia University Equal Education Opportunity and Student Nondiscrimination Policy by not allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military. Until ROTC changes its policy, any discussion on the military cannot result in the return of ROTC to campus, and to invite ROTC back to campus while they continue to discriminate against transgender students not only violates our nondiscrimination policy and principles, but also sends a message to transgender students that their rights are not worth defending while the rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students were and are worth defending.

EAAH acknowledges the need for dialogue about the relationship between higher education and the military, but that dialogue must not force Columbia to compromise on its nondiscrimination policy regarding gender identity and expression. Discussions of the military’s contributions to society, sexual assault within the military, the military’s recruitment among low-income and minority communities, and the relationship between the military and academic freedoms are important discussions, but these discussions do not require the presence of the ROTC or any other program that discriminates against Columbia students on grounds the University has already found to be invalid criteria for assessment, including sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.  To allege that ROTC must be present in order to engage in these discussions is both disingenuous and a disservice to our commitment to an academic community consisting of members accorded equal dignity and respect and judged for their ideas, rather than their identities.

Everyone Allied Against Homophobia is Columbia University’s anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia queer and allied student group.  EAAH is dedicated to fighting homophobia and transphobia through activism and education in our community and in the broader world.

From: R. Glenn Hubbard
Sent: Mon 2/28/2011 1:27 PM
Subject: ROTC at Columbia

Dear Members of the Task Force on Military Engagement:

It is my sincere hope that Columbia University will quickly and unconditionally invite ROTC back to campus.

Veterans of the armed services bring invaluable experience to the classroom, and their ability to apply leadership, management, and decision-making skills, as well as the discipline and flexibility they learn as soldiers, position them superbly for success as business leaders, policy makers, or members of any number of other professions. The Business School has supported a number of military-focused initiatives, including the Yellow Ribbon Fund and customized recruiting for our MBA programs within the military community.  The School’s student-led Military In Business Association has been a powerful component in making Columbia Business School a welcoming community for current and past members of the armed services.

Since becoming dean in 2004, I have made it a priority to increase the enrollment of veterans at Columbia Business School and to more closely engage our military alumni.  I see no reason why Columbia should not similarly strive to provide the highest-quality education to future military leaders, as well. I hope that the University community will make the right decision in its current debate: To welcome ROTC back to campus after its 42-year hiatus.

With regards,

Glenn Hubbard
Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School
Professor of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

From: Anonymous
Sent: Mon 2/28/2011 1:06 AM
Subject: in favor of ROTC's return

To whom it may concern:

I am a CC '08 graduate, and I strongly favor ROTC's return to campus for all of the reasons that have been stated by many others. As someone entering a career in the health profession, I'd like to add the following perspective regarding discrimination against transgendered individuals.

In the case of someone who’s transexual (i.e. has undergone physical transitioning), it makes sense why the military would opt to disallow enlistment–these are individuals with a unique set of medical needs, and the military already has limited resources as it is. What's more, there are thousands of medical reasons that preclude one from enlisting, so to claim that disallowing transexual individuals is simply a matter of discrimination is to take the issue completely out of context. As for transgender individuals who aren’t transexuals, I think it’s far less clear how exactly the military would actually discriminate against these folks, and in my experience so far no one has been able to successfully explain exactly what that discrimination looks like.

Moving beyond the military, it would be more apropos to direct concern regarding transgender discrimination toward the American Psychiatric Association, which considers transgenderism to be a “gender identity disorder.” Perhaps every Columbia psychiatrist who’s a member of the APA should be boycotted any time he/she speaks at an event on campus. At the very least, this might get the APA to start reconsidering its stance. Ultimately, to expect ROTC/the military to be at the vanguard of all social progress is entirely unrealistic.

Columbia took an honorable, principled stand against DADT; that policy is now in the process of being revoked. It's time to take our victory while simultaneously affording Columbia students who wish to partake in ROTC every opportunity to do so. Thanks for your consideration.