Task Force Hearing of February 23, 2011

The third public hearing of the Task Force on Military Engagement was held on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 from 8 PM to 10 PM in 417 International Affairs Building. A transcript is forthcoming.

Audio recordings of the third Task Force hearing may be found at:



: Thank you all for coming out tonight. The task force is pleased to introduce our third and final hearing. For your information, the task force is made up of nine members: five students and four faculty. The four faculty are Roosevelt Montas, to my left, director of the Core Curriculum; Dean Peter Awn, dean of General Studies; Julia Hirschberg, professor of computer science; and Jim Applegate, professor of astronomy. The students are myself, Ron Mazor, Columbia College graduate and current law student; Alex Frouman, member of Columbia College; Tim Qin, member of SEAS; Molly Finkel, to my right, student of nursing; and Scott Saverance, a student at SIPA. At this point I’d like to introduce Provost Claude Steele, to deliver the opening remarks.
CLAUDE STEELE: Thank you, Ron. [Applause] Well, it’s a real pleasure to be here and see such a robust crowd on this cold winter night for what Ron described as the third, I guess, and final open forum on the topic of the university’s relationship to the military and to ROTC. As you know, what you say here tonight will inform the task force’s thinking and their information base about this issue, and as I understand it, they are writing a written report that will be due I think at the Senate in early March, maybe March 4 is the date that somehow sticks in my mind. So they’re in the final days of preparing this report, and this kind of a discourse is going to be very important in their thinking I’m sure. The Senate will then read the report and vigorously debate the report, I’m sure, and then it will take a vote which will inform the president and board of trustees about the feelings of the Columbia University community about this issue of how we should engage the military and how we should feel about ROTC programming at the university.
            So that’s the progression of events as I understand it, and this is how tonight’s event fits into those things. It will be the last chance for a broad sampling, I think, of points of view on this. So welcome to that.
            I don’t really have a lot to say in the way of introduction. I might make two brief points. One is a point which is just to position myself, I guess, with regard to the forum tonight and the discussion. I think if there’s any word that is applicable here, I think of myself as a learner, someone who is in the process of learning about as much information as I can. I’ve been reading as much as I can, and this will really help reinforce that in terms of facts and information, and also just the full variety of points of view that people have towards this issue. That’s something that is very important to me. I understand that this is an incredibly important issue for the university community. This is something that is of historical significance in that sense, and so I’m very anxious and excited to be here and part of the debate tonight.
            I, like I think everybody else, have a personal history from which I could extrapolate some view toward this issue. But as best as I can, I don’t want to do that. I would like to take the issue on in as a fresh a way as possible, and consider things anew with regard to the relationship between universities and the military. So that is the general disposition by which I approach this evening’s discussions.
            The second point I might make is that I’m proud that Columbia University has the capacity to have open forums about controversial, difficult, complicated issues like the one that we’re going to take up tonight. I think this is a really important capacity for a university to have, the ability to be able to have open forums about complicated issues. I think it’s one of the things that is a fundamental justification for the kind of institution we are. That this is the place where these kinds of discussions can take place in society. So I think it’s our obligation, and I think it’s something that we do rather well here. It seems to be part of the DNA of Columbia to have rousing discussions about important issues. And I’m also proud of the fact that for the most part, maybe not always, but for the most part we do this in a very civil way. And I think civility is an important part of the capacity to have these kinds of discussions. It’s a lot more than just a nicety. We could think that civility is something that’s almost an expendable nicety, but I believe that civility is important to the quality of the debate. And the reason it’s important to the quality of the debate is that it’s through civility that everybody feels safe enough to say what they really think in these situations. And so as soon as civility gets broken, it’s harder for people to say what they really think in a situation, and it’s harder then to trust the debate as a full range of viewpoints being offered in it. So that’s how important I think it is. I think it’s a real foundational thing and I think it’s something an institution like this has to strive for.
            You know, it’s not always easy to be civil. [Chuckle] I think everybody understands that. There’s no such thing as perfection, but I think it’s something that’s very important to strive for on the part of an institution, especially in forums like this. So I just wanted to stick in a little reminder like that as much to myself as to anybody else in this kind of situation.
            So I can end by just again welcoming you to this evening. We’ve got a grand crowd for this discussion. I think it’s going to be clearly a very vigorous discussion. So thanks for listening. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much, Provost Steele. Just to recap as Provost Steele did nicely. These hearings are meant to be open forums for the members of our community to come and express their views on ROTC, military engagement, what have you. The ability to express one’s views without fear of judgment or without fear of threat or the ability to speak openly and freely rides on our capacity to be civil. So thank you very much for those remarks.
            Just to go over quickly the rules and guidelines for debate. We will have a two-minute-and-30-second counter for all comments. Please limit your remarks to that time limit. These hearings are meant to be open as a public record. We’re trying to preserve these comments and opinions for posterity, and have a good chronicle of the process of debate at Columbia during this, our task force’s deliberations. What this means is that we have been making available transcripts of the records on our websites, and there is media present. So please be aware.
            At this point, additionally given that there are media present, we would ask that interviews take place outside the meeting hall. We will likely take a five- to ten-minute break at the halfway mark of this hearing. Because we are checking IDs, we ask that individuals try to remain inside the room. If you have to leave the room, it’s understandable, but because of the process of checking IDs, as much as possible, please do remain inside the room.
            At this point we are open for comments, and you’re welcome to take to the mikes. If we have multiple lines, we take at a varying level both mikes. Oh, wow! [Applause]
SCOTT SAVERANCE, MEMBER, SENATE TASK FORCE:  Folks, if we can, just a reminder about the microphones. Please do leave them in the stands. Don’t cover the base or take them out of the stand. Thank you.
MAZOR: Okay. Middle mike, first comment, please.
JASON LEMIEUX: Good evening everyone. My name is Jason Lemieux. I’m a February, 2011, graduate of the School of General Studies and waiting to hear back from the School of International and Public Affairs. I served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, three tours of Iraq. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I joined the activist organization Iraq Veterans Against the War, and in 2008 I testified at the Winter Soldier hearings about abuses of the rules of engagement in Iraq.
            And with that out of the way, I’d like to start by saying that I respect the right to freedom of expression of all students and faculty at Columbia, but I find that the concerns that have been expressed about ROTC are largely hyperbolic and uninformed about the complexities of ROTC and the military in general. There are cadets in the room that anybody who has concerns can ask questions, like, How do you view academic freedom? How do you reconcile your oath to obey with the university’s need for intellectual integrity? How do you  respond when a student disagrees with you in a classroom? And I think that if these questions are asked of real people in an honest and humble way, that many of the concerns could be relaxed about the supposed incompatibility of ROTC and Columbia.
            To the University Senate I’d like to say that one of the healthiest things that I did coming out of the all-male Marine Corps infantry was attend a poetry class at Barnard College, that Columbia-affiliated institution that discriminates on the basis of gender, because I was forced to deal with ideas and with people [applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
LEMIEUX: -- with whom I was unfamiliar and kind of uncomfortable. So I think that there are, if there are people with misgivings about the military, then that’s actually an excellent reason why you would want them at an institution that purports to be about growth and development.
            As a student and as a veteran, I accept that this university needs to take a long and hard look at its relationship to organized violence. But I think that in the end it’ll be good and healthy for people with misgivings about the military, for cadets who need to keep their military status in perspective, and to the extent that it really changes the university one way or another, I think it can only be beneficial to have any of the services’ ROTC scholarship programs at Columbia. Thank you for your time. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
JUSTIN JACKSON:  Sure. My name is Justin Jackson. I’m a student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and I want to comment on the question of whether Columbia’s relationship with ROTC and the military is an issue of institutional concern. And I would just call attention to a piece of news that I came across recently which may indicate that it might be an issue of institutional concern. Steven Zoons, a professor of politics and chair of Middle Easter studies at the University of San Francisco, last month reported at the University of San Francisco where there’s an ROTC program, he read a memo sent to ROTC programs there and at other colleges and universities that effectively prohibits ROTC students from completing any assignments that professors may make involving any material released through WikiLeaks. According to a December 8th memo from Colonel Charles M. Evans, commanding officer of the Eighth Brigade, U.S. Army Cadet Command, quote “using the classified information found on WikiLeaks for research papers, presentations, etc., is prohibited.” A follow-up memo from the cadet commander at the University of San Francisco advised against even talking about it, precluding ROTC students from taking part in classroom discussions regarding WikiLeaks material.
            I would like the University Senate to deliberate on how Columbia would facilitate this kind of proscription of material that arguably may enter into course assignments in the ROTC program; whether that kind of proscription would be something that could occur in other parts of the university and impact curriculum in other parts of the university, and to know whether classified material that has been declassified and entered the public domain, can that be proscribed in the our curriculum. One thinks of the Pentagon papers, which were classified material that we declassified and in the public domain, which have been, I’m sure, used in many academic papers and research at this university. Would that suddenly be problematic? So I think the issue of academic freedom is something that needs to be explored very seriously by the University Senate, and how ROTC as a program that has its prerogatives determined not solely by this university would impact the university as a whole. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, center mike.
RICHARD BETTS: Dick Betts, political science department and Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. I think it’s important not to confuse what’s at issue in terms of institutional relationships over time as opposed to concerns about political policies at any one time. Also I think that the issue should not be defined in terms of military engagement with Columbia, but rather in terms of government engagement. The military is only an agency of the U.S. government, for which the university for better or worse already provides lots of services in exchange for lots of money.
            For me the main policy question about ROTC at Columbia is first whether the United States should have any military at all, for which one can respectably answer no if you’re a consistent pacifist. But if it should, whether that military should be led by graduates of Columbia as well as other places, or only led by people from West Point or ROTC programs at East Jesus State. [Laughter] The understandable visceral association of the ROTC issue with concerns about improper or outrageous American policies at any one time, the war in Iraq or anything else, which by the way a number of military leaders opposed, should not be confused with the question of whether the university should cooperate with the government in allowing students to become officers through the normal public means that have been institutionalized. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, side mike.
BRENDAN ROONEY: Good evening. My name is Brendan Rooney, and I’m the president of the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University, also known as Milvets. I’m going to share with you our recent press release concerning last week’s ROTC hearing and Columbia’s relationship with its veterans.
            “Last week’s heckling of Columbia University student and [?] Anthony Maschek by anti-ROTC activists triggered outrage across the country. U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University organization, or Milvets, of which Mr. Maschek, an ROTC supporter, is an active member; the Columbia SIPA veterans’ association, CSVA; the Columbia Military and Business Association, MIBA; and the Columbia Law School Military Association, CLSMA, share this deep sense of indignation. Nevertheless, following the media controversy engendered by this event, all four organizations wish to state that the disrespectful conduct of a few students in no way reflects the consensus attitude of Columbia students and faculty towards the student veteran population. On the contrary, its enthusiastic support of military veterans is precisely the reason why Columbia now hosts the largest veteran population of any Ivy League institution—340 in total, over 200 of whom are undergraduates. To those everywhere who have been following the story, and especially to fellow veterans considering the pursuit of higher education at Columbia, Milvets, CSVA, MIBA, and CLSMA unanimously profess their full confidence in the Columbia academic community’s ongoing support for military men and women. The disgraceful actions of a few individuals should not be used to condemn Columbia’s aggregate, of which so many proud veterans are themselves a part. Thank you.” [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please.
ALBA GARZA: Hi. I’m Alba Garza. I am a senior in SEAS, and I’m also a native of San Antonio, Texas, which is known also as Military City, U.S.A. In San Antonio we have Lackland Air Force Base, we have Randolph Air Force Base, which is not even a mile away from my high school. We have Brooke Army Medical Center, which is known for its burn unit and has treated many people, not even military. We have Lackland also, which passes all new Air Force, sorry, airmen, through through the basic training. Most of the medics also in the Army go through Fort Sam Houston, and many of my friends personally, at Judson High School, which in the New York Times was profiled as one of the biggest schools to get students into the military, went into the military. My friend Lisa is now a registered nurse because she’s in the military. My friend Roberto is living his top-gun dreams as a Navy fighter pilot at the Academy. One time when he visited here at Columbia he was heckled because he was in his white cadet uniform, which he wears daily at the Naval Academy.
            What I would like to show is that the military isn’t this all-evil organization which does nothing but kill. I saw a poster walking over here saying, Do you want your fellow students to be taught war tactics? That’s like faulting a chemistry student for maybe learning how to make LSD, or faulting me as a computer scientist for creating [?]. It makes no sense.
            And also, I’d also like to give a bit of thought to the people we’ve lost. My friend Chris Baldasar died on September 4, 2009, in Afghanistan fighting there, and to hear of a veteran being heckled at a hearing made me embarrassed. My friends back in Texas messaged me on my Facebook blog saying,  Classy, representing me and my school that way. It’s not very nice.
            So this is a very touchy issue. There are many facets. But we have to observe it all, and try to remain objective, but also think about everything. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please.
MATTHEW BISHOP: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Matthew Bishop. I’m a U.S. Marine and a student at the School of General Studies, and I’m also the vice president of the Milvets organization here. But it is not in that capacity that I’m speaking tonight. I speak as an individual. And I’m going to speak from the heart, and I don’t want anybody out there to feel like I’m putting them in their place or chiding them, but I do have some pretty strong feelings about this issue.
            So tonight I’d like to ask what makes this institution free and what enables all the students here, all the grad students and all the faculty to do what it is they do at Columbia University? The answer is a lot of money and a lot of protection. That’s what I find so ironic about the hearings that—I've heard a lot of ROTC opponents speak of an obligation to their fellow student. And I respect their motives. But I find it ironic to hear them speaking of this obligation as a primary plank in their argument against ROTC and against the U.S. military. Am I the only one who sees this irony?
            Perhaps you don’t believe that there are people out there actually plotting to kill you specifically. Fair enough.  Perhaps you don’t agree with the operations that the U.S. military is currently engaged in.  Again, fair enough. But I am dumbfounded that you can speak of protection in one breath and then decry your own military in the next. This university, like all American institutions, is protected, but it is not protected by student organizations like yours or mine, and it’s not protected by mathematics or philosophy or even by the University Senate.  It’s protected by the men and women of the United States military. And if that military did not exist, then rest assured this institution would not exist.
            In my opinion, the desire of a few students to play politics will never trump Columbia’s debt to the institutions that protect it. That is to say, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. Also the NYPD and the FDNY. And those institutions are staffed by people and they depend on their ability to recruit. For Columbia to place roadblocks before students who would volunteer to staff any of these institutions for any reason, well, to me it’s an act of deep ingratitude.
SAVERANCE: Please finish your thought.
BISHOP: I urge you all as you consider whether ROTC belongs here at Columbia University to consider who and what actually protects this place of free exchange and tolerance. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much.  In the future, please make sure that you address the panel. We’re here to listen, and this is an event which is geared towards getting opinions about ROTC addressed to the task force. So please address your comments to the task force.  Next comment, please.
ASHLEY LARSON: My name is Ashley Larson. I’m going to begin a little bit non-traditionally by telling you first who I am not. I’m not a military veteran, nor am I the daughter, the granddaughter, the wife or the sister of one. I have never been in ROTC, and I have never served my country in any formal capacity. Here’s who I am, though. I’m a second-year M.B.A. candidate. I’m a loyal member of the Columbia community and I am a very proud American.
            I’m here today because of who I am and in spite of who I am not. I’m also here to publicly express the disappointment, disgust and outrage that I saw at how members of my community treated heroes among us. You know, we all have one overarching commonality, even though we may have differences in opinion, and that is that we are all human, and we deserve to be treated that way. As fellow members of the Columbia community, if we cannot treat each other with respect, how do we expect others to respect us?
            My position is simply in support of ROTC on Columbia’s campus. One, the military is a volunteer-based organization that works to preserve our freedom. Two, individuals who volunteer their service to protect our freedom deserve the same freedom to choose an education at Columbia University over Fordham University. Three, an ROTC scholarship is a scholarship just like any other scholarship, be it religious, cultural or vocational. The refusal to allow ROTC on campus is discriminatory and imposes your moral and political beliefs on others.
            The military is a minority in our society, currently less than one percent of the population. So we should give them the right to practice anywhere they want to just like we give religious organizations.
            Our freedom is the result of incomprehensible sacrifice given by our troops and the families who support them. The graduates at Columbia University routinely prove leaders in every field, no doubt owing in some part to the education and instruction they receive here while at Columbia. If we value our freedom and believe in the value of an education at Columbia, why not play a role in educating these future leaders?
            To those of you in opposition, if you don’t support the actions of our military, fine. Don’t just sit there and complain. Do something about it. Take a role in educating the next generation of military leaders. Let Columbia be part of that change.
            In closing, regardless of our different religious, political and moral views, we are all Americans. We all have the right to choose to receive a top education, one from this institution. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Next comment, please, side mike.
KENNETH JACKSON: My name is Ken Jackson. I’m a professor of history at Columbia. I’ve taught here since 1968. It would be wonderful if we could live in a world without a need for soldiers. Think of all the great things we could do with the money for parks and hospitals and schools. Alas, we do not live in such a world, and given that circumstance, I’ll support the reinstitution of ROTC here, and would like to just make a few points.
            First, the military has been a leader, not a follower, in civil rights for at least the past generation since it was integrated formally long before the rest of the United States in the late 1940s. I was an ROTC graduate, and 45 years ago I worked for a lieutenant colonel who happened to be black. But in the military you don’t look at race and you don’t look at gender and you don’t look at religion. All you see are the insignias on the shoulders. In this case I saw Colonel Evans’s silver oak leaf. So the appropriate response for me, because I was a lowly lieutenant, was “sir.” I also lived in an integrated housing complex called Page Manor, which in 1965 was fairly unusual for the United States. And I would say further that I don’t think there would be a single category of the American people who would be more pleased with the end of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq than the military families who have seen their loved ones spend two and three years [applause] over there.
            Secondly, as has been said before, Columbia students have a broad liberal education, and their presence in the armed services might present more diverse perspectives in that group.
            Thirdly, Columbia presumes to seek a diverse student body. At the moment, however, it is not receptive to that broad spectrum of opinion which suggests that military service is an honorable occupation. But of course we do regard service in the legal profession as honorable, even though it might be just as problematic. [Laughter]
            Fourth. And by the way I could mention others. I’m just pulling one out. [Laughter] Fourth, ROTC provides financial assistance to college students as it did to me. And the financial aid program at this institution, as you know, is under extraordinary pressure. Pushing some of those costs to the federal government would free up more money for other needy students, including those that are against the military forces.
SAVERANCE: Please finish your thought.
JACKSON: Finally, if Columbia should be among that tiny group of schools that does not welcome ROTC, and I think virtually all will, I can see it now almost in front of me-- the Tea Party congressman from some other state saying that if Columbia University does not see fit to welcome the United States armed forces, then the people of the United States do not see fit to support Columbia University.  We get hundreds of millions of dollars.
MAZOR: Thank you very much. [Applause] Next comment, please.
BARRY WEINBERG: Hi. Some of you on the panel may recognize me. I’m Barry Weinberg. I’m a junior at CC, and I’ve been to all three of these town halls. [Applause] And I have three points to make tonight, generally speaking. And the first is about process. And that is, I would like to call attention to the relative lack of transparency with which the process for gathering opinions on ROTC [Applause] has been gathered.
            Sorry, it is unclear to me how the panel was chosen, at whose request, and the panel recently released a statement on that, I believe February 21, where it said it is non-partisan facilitator of discussions about military engagement on campus with the strong focus upon participation in the ROTC program. I would like to point out that Jim Applegate, a professor who apparently formed the task force and who is on it, has numerous times in the past and this round as well, endorsed the return of ROTC to campus in numerous petitions and statements. That is not non-partisan. And I would like to call attention to the fact that predicating [Applause]–excuse me, sorry—that predicating discussion on the idea that ROTC may return when it is in conflict with university policies is not necessarily non-partisan or unbiased.
            My second point today is a point of elitism I think that we find on both sides of the argument, not by all presenters, but by many.  But Professor Richard Betts’s argument, Betts’s statement tonight that we may worry that someone from East Jesus State would be in the military is an adequate example. Even though that there are programs at Princeton, the broader issue is the idea that somehow people who go to Ivy League universities are more open-minded than those serving in the military or in ROTC on state campuses. I’m from Indiana. I happen to take issue with that idea. And also in regards to discrimination against the military, Columbia’s committed to continue contact with people from the perspective of the military. They are in our non-discrimination policy, and we have the School of General Studies, which has done a remarkable job of working to incorporate veterans into student life and welcome them with open arms.
            Finally, unlike what Ashley may think, ROTC is not like any other scholarship, but instead a forward payment of service due after graduation. And in this case it is a program that discriminates on the basis of, among other things, gender identity and expression. As Provost Alan Brinkley in 2004 and 2005 noted, that while he considered the return of ROTC to campus to be a practical good—that was his personal opinion—the moral good of sticking with the university’s non-discrimination commitment and principles far overrides the practical good. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR:  Next comment, please, side mike.
NOAH BARON: Hello. My name is Noah Baron. I am a senior in Columbia College and I am president of Kesher Reformed Jews on Campus. I speak for myself tonight. But at first I would like to indicate that both of my grandfathers fought the Nazis in World War II, and I currently have a cousin fighting in Iraq, and I pray for his safe return every day.
            I also support the eventual return of ROTC to campus, but not now. There are those who say that being opposed to bringing discrimination to campus is a front for my general opposition to the military. They say that I’m a liar. They say that I am being hyperbolic.  Hilariously, these are often the same people who complain about the lack of respect in our dialogue. In any case, I have this to say to these points.  As a Jew, I’m committed to the precept that all people are created b tzelem elohim, in the image of God, and as such are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.  It is from my fundamental commitment to the Biblical injunction “Justice, justice shall you pursue” that I fight passionately for equality for my transgender brothers and sisters. It is from also this commitment that I am committed to keep discrimination and the ROTC program as it is currently embodied in the military policies off campus.
            As a Jew I am committed, as it is written in Leviticus 19, to not stand idly by as my neighbors suffer. I shall not. I am in earnest, I am no liar. My concerns are real and affect real people, and I will be heard.  Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, center mike.
KATE SWERIJEN [SP?]: Hi I’m Kate Swerijen. I’m a student in the Law School. I am not a veteran. After almost ten years of war in which a tiny population of Americans has borne the brunt of sacrifice, bridging the civilian/military divide is more important than ever. In order to bridge that divide, I believe it is essential that Columbia reconsider its relationship with ROTC and bring ROTC to this campus.
            Several years ago at a speech at Dartmouth College, the journalist Thomas Ricks was asked by a member of the audience, “How can you support ROTC at a place like Dartmouth? ROTC will militarize the campus and it will threaten our culture of tolerance.” Thomas Ricks said, Wrong. ROTC will liberalize the military. The military should reflect the best of American society. It should not stand apart from it. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, side mike.
TYLER WILLIAMS: My name is Tyler Williams. I’m a Ph.D. student in the MEASAS department in GSAS. I speak today as someone who actually applied to ROTC as a high school student, one, because I believed it was my only shot at affording an education; two, because I believe that every citizen had some debt of service to pay to their country. And so I want to start off by paying my respects to the veterans and ROTC members who are here tonight and who have come to speak. I am glad to hear what they have to say.
            However, my feelings about ROTC as an institution have changed greatly over the past 15 years. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that the debate is unfortunately centered around the idea that bringing poor students to campus from low-income backgrounds through ROTC is somehow doing them a favor by asking them to give up their weekdays, their weekends, their vacations to train with ROTC and then give four years of service to the military afterward. Meanwhile, the rich students here and the students from high-income backgrounds spend their weekdays and their weekends studying, their spring break in Cancun and Jamaica, and go on to lucrative careers in investment banking afterwards.  My feeling is that if you want to make a fair and equal playing field, then give scholarships to those students coming from low-income backgrounds. [Applause] Either that or require high-income students to have to participate in military service. It is either one or the other. [Applause]
            Institutionalizing ROTC at this campus will only go further in institutionalizing this class difference and this type of class discrimination. Unfortunately, one other point has to be clarified. The debate tonight and the debate in the Senate will not be deciding whether or not ROTC students, veterans and the like, military service people, are accepted and welcomed on this campus. Military servicemen, both active and veterans, are welcome on this campus. They should be welcomed on this campus. And I’m sure that they will accepted on this campus and welcomed in the future. The question is, Are we going to institutionalize ROTC? Some of us apparently live in a fantasy land that that is somehow going to liberalize the military and somehow give students who are not participating in ROTC a greater understanding of what it means to have military service.
            ROTC is an officer training program. Nothing more, nothing less. It trains officers and those who volunteer. Those who won’t volunteer will not be exposed to that. Yes, maybe through some personal connections with these students, but it’s not going to lead to a greater debate. Therefore, I want to clarify that most of us who are against the institutionalization of ROTC here are not anti-ROTC student, we are not anti-veteran, we are not anti-military servicemen, but we are against any system that would suggest that a poor student in order to get an Ivy League education has to put themselves in front of a bullet in Afghanistan or Iraq during this war.
SAVERANCE : Please finish your thought.
WILLIAMS: We are against anyone who thinks they’re doing a favor or doing a charity to low-income students by offering this kind of choice. And we are against anyone, especially those in the audience, and I’m sad to hear this tonight--
MAZOR: Thank you.
WILLIAMS: --Professors included who would suggest that we adopt ROTC to avoid, to avoid. One, to gain more money.
MAZOR: I’m sorry. At this point, we need to move on.
WILLIAMS: And two to avoid.
MAZOR: Sir. We have to move on. Thank you. [Applause] A few issues quickly. If the time runs out and you’re still speaking, we ask that you finish the sentence and then leave the podium. And also given our limited amount of time for comments, we ask to try to mitigate and limit interruptions during the speakers’ comments. Thank you very much. Center mike.
RAJAT ROY: Hi. My name is Rajat Roy. I am a graduate student in Engineering, and I’m also an alumnus of Engineering. I’d like to raise a few quick points. Prior speakers have said that we can’t change the military from the inside out. Yet direct evidence contradicts this. Marine General Conway attended Southeast Missouri State University. He was pro Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The repeal of Don’t Ak, Don’t Tell’s main proponents, General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen, have graduate degrees from Princeton and Harvard. These degrees are short-term. Mullen’s operations research degree was two years like mine. And clearly universities of Columbia’s caliber absolutely do make an impact on the military students, even if they’re there only for a short time, not the full four years of the ROTC program. And we can change the military from the inside out.
            Earlier speakers have said that the military covers up sexual abuse. Yes, we’ve seen reports of that. But Columbia, honestly, does the same. On May 2 last year a student wrote an op ed in the Spectator about how Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger threw out the punishments against a rapist after a sexual assault here and concluded that he was guilty. Given my experience in Columbia’s graduate and undergraduate student councils, I would be surprised if this was an isolated incident. The sad reality is that we also have swept sexual abuse under the rug at all schools at Columbia.
            So I’d like the task force to reevaluate any notion that we’re somehow pure. Both the military and Columbia are trying to rectify their mistakes, and we should give them the opportunity and give ourselves the opportunity to do so.
            Finally, I’d like to express that I’m a little worried that the task force has kind of ignored the alumni perspective on this. A lot of us alumni are looking at this both on campus and from at home, and we get worried when we hear articles in the New York Post and on Fox News. But fundamentally, we were behind the university when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was in place. We said, okay, fine. ROTC shouldn’t be on campus. But once it was removed, I think the university will have a very hard time telling us that we should give a lot of our money and a lot of our time to the university when it made an unreasonable decision. So I ask that you carefully analyze the fact that a lot of people here today on both extremes of the ROTC argument aren’t going to be involved alumni, and you really should be paying attention to those perspectives of those who will be involved. Thank you [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, side mike.
JOEL RAMIREZ: Good evening. My name is Joel Ramirez. I’m a second-year at GS majoring in creative writing and philosophy, and I’m a Marine Corps veteran. 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 character to lead and contribute to industries and societies all over the world, and should extend that responsibility to our own military as citizen/soldiers.
            I’ll concede that there’s still progress to be made on the bias and foreign policy fronts, but the nature of progress is that there’s no end to it, and Columbia should participate in cultivating leaders in every area of our society, not abstain from contributing to particular ones. 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 that there’s a lack of bright people in the military, but Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t get overturned simply because the incumbents reversed their opinions. We didn’t elect our first black president because nothing could be changed. Progress is conventionally assumed to take time. Some are convinced it takes money or for a certain party to be 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 this is 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?
            These officers from ROTC programs will leverage their education, 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 people. And I know firsthand, as do all student veterans on campus, how greatly this caliber of education would contribute to a servicemember’s career. Having leaders that feel this way, highly educated and with the preparation of the ROTC, more directly benefits us all.
            Finally, I believe that ROTC cadets at Columbia would benefit from leveraging the student veteran population currently at Columbia. Perhaps you will see Columbia ROTC cadets benefiting 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. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, center mike.
KAREN WOODIN: Hi. My name is Karen Woodin. I am a senior in Columbia College and an international student from Monterey, Mexico. I was also the chair for IvyQ, a conference that happened this weekend, the second annual conference for LBGTQA students hosted at Columbia. And I don’t speak as a representative of IvyQ.  I speak as myself. When I came to Columbia something that impressed me, especially coming from a very homophobic country, was that the norm at Columbia is tolerance and non-discrimination. I was very impressed by the fact that there was a Queer Alliance, there was Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, Gender Revolution and many others.
            What I’d like to say now is that what we all know: that ROTC discriminates against trans students, and therefore violates Columbia’s non-discrimination policy. While these discussions are fruitful, I don’t think that the issue at hand is about the value of the military, which I think is a great discussion, or about whether Columbia can benefit from having ROTC on campus, or whether the military can benefit from having Columbia-educated personnel. I think the issue at hand is, Can this university that has for years created safe spaces for students have a program that blatantly discriminates against specific members of its population? And therefore I oppose ROTC.
I believe that there is a lot of misinformation. I do not know why the task force was created. As a student what I know is that DADT was repealed, and almost immediately after, this task force was created. What this tells me is that there is a belief that with the repealing of DADT, there is no longer discrimination against the LGBTQ community, but the fact is that the military still discriminates against trans people. So that argument does not hold. So what message, and this is something that someone said at another town hall, which I think very adequately reflects what I feel, is, What message does it send to our trans students that when DADT was in place Columbia’s policy was clearly against ROTC, and the moment that it is repealed, we’re like, oh, let’s have discussions about whether it should come back or not?  So I think that message is, We really care about our gays, lesbians, and bisexual students, but we do, I mean, it’s okay if we discriminate against trans students, and I just don’t think that is the safe space that Columbia has committed itself to. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. One simple issue. Looking at the lines now, if everyone takes the full amount of time, we will be out of time for the evening. I’m going to close the lines for a minute, or rather until further notice. If people take less time, I’ll reopen them. Next comment please, side mike.
JOSEPH AWM: Good evening. My name is Joseph Awm. I’m a student at Columbia law, and I have two points to make. The first is to address the concern about discrimination, basically asking whether we can invite a group on campus that discriminates against members of our own student body. And I think that the answer to that has to be yes, and the reason that I say that is because of Columbia’s value for the virtue of tolerance. And what that ultimately means is that tolerance of viewpoints that you agree with is meaningless. You have to have tolerance for viewpoints that you don’t agree with. Because if you only subscribe to a narrow ideological sliver, ultimately what you will be is paralyzed by perfection. And that’s not a virtue. That’s not a noble thing. That’s a bad thing.
            And I guess to say it a little more simply. What I’m saying is, Sure, we can all sit here and admit the military has flaws. And I say great, ’cause I have flaws too, and you have flaws, and everybody has flaws, and if we wait for an institution to be perfect, we’ll never get there. So there has to be that first element.
            The second thing that I want to bring up is that ultimately the ROTC inculcates virtue in students that Columbia is training to be leaders around the world. And that’s something that Columbia should value. And there are two specific virtues that I want to point you onto. The first is that of love, and the second is that of courage. And now I know that the idea of love in the military sounds a little bit crazy. So let me just explain that. The first introduction of love into the idea of western culture was done by Jesus, and he mentioned that greater love has no man than this, than that he lay down his life for his friends. So by that reasoning, in that sense, those who take up arms on our behalf are doing the greatest demonstration of love that there is. That’s something that Columbia should try and support and try and get behind however it can.
            And then the second point is ultimately that of courage, which we all know—the  fact that they are willing to sacrifice themselves to die. But there’s another kind of courage that I think we have seen today, and we’ve seen in the other meetings, which is a courage to show up even if there is heckling, even if there is discrimination against them. And that isn’t because they enjoy being heckled. It’s not because people in the military like being looked down on or viewed as being wrong in some way. It’s because they’re courageous and they believe that that is something that should be valued.
            So I ask the Columbia community to be courageous and as well to facilitate student involvement in the military because a healthy academic community permits students to pursue their callings. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, center mike, please.
EDWARD KRASNIEWSKI: Good evening. My name is Edward
Krasniewski and I’m an undergraduate student in the College. Already a lot of things have been said about last week’s hearing, and I want to draw from one particular statement which was made public record. “Other parts of the country or other parts of the world are plotting to kill you right now when you go to bed. It’s not a joke. There are a lot of tough men out there willing to do bad things to bad people to keep you safe. These people are seriously trying to kill you. They hate America. They hate you.” To those who endorse this world view, I would like to ask, who are these people? And yet more importantly, who created them? It is this very brand of one-dimensional thinking which, if not partly encouraged by the military, it is in no way discouraged. Not only does this statement ignore the fact that the vast majority of U.S. military action has been offensive, not defensive. It also brings into question the place of an institution generating such a facile world view within our campus gates.
            Although there is the very obvious and very important matter of discrimination in the military, which Columbia has a responsibility to denounce in accordance with its non-discrimination policy, we must not forget the most basic fundamental fact. The academy is an establishment based on inclusion and free discourse. The military is not. As an inspiring global university, Columbia must remain an institution dedicated to tolerance. Our pedagogy must be one of critical thinking and open discourse, not one whose very foundation is based, both in rhetoric and in action, on the promotion of violence and otherization.
            As a civilian institution, it is not our responsibility to reform the military. Even so, the fact that the military needs to be reformed cannot be blamed entirely on the military itself. Our armed forces are not an independent entity capable of autonomous action, but rather one which has historically been wrongly used by those with the legal power to issue orders. As such, it is silly to think that bottom-up reform is possible. As a soldier at the bottom, one accepts orders from the top. This is a basic fact in the military. You follow a chain of command.
            In order to amend the role of the military, reform needs to be made within the legislative and executive branches, which encourage the military’s hierarchical nature as well as permit the discriminatory recruitment practices which were already discussed previously. However, importantly, the inclusion of ROTC on campus will not change anything about how the military is structured, nor how it is used as a tool of coercion and violence in our nation's foreign policy. Its inappropriate presence will, however, have a negative impact on student life and bring into question our university’s commitment to free expression and tolerance, which is a requisite of any aspiring global institution. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please.
CYNTHIA GAO: My name’s Cindy Gao, CC 2012, and I’m the political chair of the Asian American Alliance, and I’d like to speak tonight with this particular position in mind. Asian American as a term and concept is a recent invention, was coined by activists working in the late 1960s to constitute a political coalition that reached across ethnic lines. A central component of the term’s history is these activists’ involvement in anti-war movements, in particular the war in Vietnam, but also U.S. militarism more broadly in the Third World as well as within the United States itself. In the words of activist Gordon Lee, the injustices and racism exposed by the Vietnam War also helped cement a bond between different Asian groups living in America. In the eyes of the U.S. military it didn’t matter if you were Vietnamese or Chinese, Cambodian or Laotian; you were a gook and therefore subhuman.
            This speaks to my second point, which is in response to critics of the anti-ROTC coalition who say that we live in bubbles and have had little to no interaction with the U.S. military, and therefore are not in a position to make the claims that we do, or that our claims are purely ideological and are not grounded in reality. Aside from the fact that many of us in fact do have friends, family, classmates and colleagues who serve or continue to serve, I want to also make clear the relationship that Asian-American populations have with the U.S. militarism on a profound, intimate level. What Asian country has not been touched by U.S. imperialism and military force? As Asian Americans we do not live in isolation but are profoundly aware of the world outside of the immediate U.S. as it affects not only the countries of our heritage but our own status within this country. U.S. militarism has not simply enforced the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the internment of Japanese Americans. U.S. militarism has not simply enforced the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the domestic detention of Arab and South Asian Americans on no more than the basis of their skin color, ethnic heritage, national origin, and religion. What freedoms does the military uphold and for whom?
            I am against the institutionalized militarization of Columbia’s campus because of my relationship with the military and militarism. To call oneself Asian American is to recognize and feel deeply the role of the military in occupying and destroying our family’s Asian homelands and the policing of our and other minority and low-income American communities. We stand in solidarity with others who recognize and feel this history and present too. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Quiet from the audience.
AVI ADELMAN: Good evening. My name’s Avi Adelman. I’m the president of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia. To my transgender and gender-nonconforming friends and peers, it can be very disheartening to recognize the limits of the historical moment in which we live. To see despite our decades of gains on the path towards equality just how far the road still extends ahead of us. Though I continue to celebrate the ability of our university to foster robust civil debate, I confess that as one who considers himself an ally to your community, the past few weeks have elicited in me a deep pessimism and a visceral fear.
            I fear that many students here don’t actually know you, and if they do, they do not understand your identities or your struggles. I am perhaps more aware than most, and I would be the first to admit how much there is about your experience that I struggle to grasp. I wish I could speak to you today to offer hope, to herald the day when we can look back with shock on the time when your voices didn’t matter, but the only words that really come to my mind tonight are, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that the desire to protect your dignity as equal Columbia students has been framed as some sort of passive boycott. I’m sorry that my peers have so easily stated that the benefits of our engagement with the military and our potential to reform its practices from the inside somehow unquestioningly overwhelms the commitment our university has made to protect you, not in some nebulous future, but right here and now.
            Whenever I hear that phrase, “change from the inside,” I cringe. To me, those words will never indicate anything but the suffocating silence of a closed closet door. I’m sorry I cannot muster the force of language to change more hearts, and I’m sorry that I’ve not adequately spoken out about the venom that has been infused in this debate and forums outside of these town halls. And finally I’m sorry that I cannot use this time to be a little more hopeful.
            So I guess what I’d like to say to you tonight is to remind you that there are many of us here, so many, who love and support you and who will continue to walk with you on the road towards freedom. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, we have your back. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment. Quiet from the audience, please. Side mike.
ALICIA DESANTIS: Hi. My name is Alicia DeSantis. I’m a graduate student in the English Department and I teach University Writing. For the last four semesters I’ve taught GS sections of University Writing, which means I’ve had three, four or five Milvets in each of my classes for the last four semesters. Needless to say, these are some of my best students.
            I’ve heard a lot about the potential future of Columbia, but I haven’t heard much at all about the current state of Columbia’s relationship with the military. So I’d like to just tell a story.
            This is one of many stories I could tell. I had a student who was in ROTC. That student was outed and so lost the ROTC scholarship. When that student went to the Columbia administration and said, I can no longer continue here because I’ve lost my scholarship, Columbia said, Tough luck, and that student was sent on their way. Thanks to Congress, miraculously that student is back in ROTC and back at Columbia this semester. If that story had happened any time in the last ten years, that student would not be here.
            The students who are currently on campus, that student or any of the students who in the GS program at large, are receiving the kind of financial, academic, or in some cases if necessary psychological counseling that seems like it would be appropriate for students coming to our campus from diverse backgrounds, from all different kinds of experiences. We leave that in the case of many of our Milvets to the V.A. That’s, you know, not our problem. It seems to me that the military is not my institution, Columbia is my institution, and regardless of what happens with ROTC, whether it comes back to campus or not, this seems like an opportunity for us as a community to demand more from our institution that we currently are in, to do more for its students that it currently has. Not hypothetical future students, this isn’t about the future, it’s about the people who are on our campus right now. So I’d just like to use this moment to ask that Columbia do more for the people who are here right today. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment, center mike.
JAMES DINGMAN: Thank you. My name is Jim Dingman. I want to speak in support of ROTC for the following reasons. First of all, to my brothers and sisters in the LBGT.
MAZOR: Please address the panel.
DINGMAN: I’m addressing you, sir. People may not know that our country has a rich history of women who fought and cross-dressed in its wars, in the Revolutionary War, in the Civil War. And people may not know that a Medal of Honor winner was a notorious cross-dresser in the 19th century. She was stripped of the medal of honor in the early 20th century. That’s common ground for all of us to sit there and take this and look at this and maybe come up with a solution of this issue of transgender. This is a reality that happened in the Civil War and Revolutionary War.
            Secondly, there’s common ground between both sides. There’s much on both sides’ arguments I agree with completely. Both are dedicated to selflessness over themselves, to think of wider issues and causes, and that’s common ground between those against and for ROTC.
            Thirdly, the class issue. That’s a real issue, and I think that we all can agree on, that we could all get together to fight for greater federal aid to everybody so that we don’t have these class distinctions. But I don’t think that a young person who decides to pursue the profession of arms should be denied that right to come here.
            Fourth, the idea that there’s going to be some [?] and super person coming out of Columbia University. The bravest person I ever knew was a platoon leader who graduated from Oklahoma State University, one of the brightest people I ever knew in my life. [Applause] And that person didn’t go to a school that was considered quote pedigreed. He went to OSU. So that issue I think we have to throw out the window.
            Finally, we’ve gone through serious constitutional crises in our country: Watergate, Contragate, the Bush Administration. [Laughter] And we have to understand that we don’t live in a situation where our army should not reflect the general populace of our society. It’s important for a democracy to survive into the 21st century to have it reflect everybody and have the same kind of anti-militarist arguments coming right at the ROTC cadets and everybody here, the same way they’re doing it right now. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, side mike.
STEPHEN SNOWDER: Hi. I’m Stephen Snowder. I’m a GS student and an Iraq vet, and just before I say my thing, I feel like someone should make the distinction. I think that most people would say that there’s a difference between cross-dressing to disguise your gender and being a transgender individual. [Applause] I think that’s worth pointing out.
            Now, I could reiterate my argument from last week. As I said, I want to bring ROTC back, and a lot of people have spoken and said many of the same things I would say. But I’m not going to do that. What I’d like to say is that in the first place, I was disturbed like everybody and embarrassed by the heckling of the wounded vet last week. But if this is even possible, I was even more disturbed that a reporter from the New York Post sat in what had been a civil and respectful and thoughtful debate for two and a half hours and the only thing he thought worth reporting on was the four seconds when a handful of students heckled that wounded veteran. [Applause] The faus controversy that has been manufactured over Hecklegate has been extremely disappointing to me. Ha, ha. And I’d just like to say, one of the things that I love about Columbia, I’m in my second year now, is that we don’t treat people who disagree with us like the enemy, and we’re able to have these civil discussions.
            And just in case anyone here still thinks Columbia is anti-military, I’d just like to say very quickly, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve had students I don’t even know come up to me and thank me for my service. I’ve had professors who have made accommodations for me when I’ve had to miss class due to military training. There are hundreds of vets here. Most of us, because Columbia fully supports the Yellow Ribbon program, are going here for free, which is just an incredible opportunity. And if I thought for one second that Columbia hated the military, I would transfer, and I don’t believe that. I think Columbia in general has been very, incredibly supportive, and I’m grateful to be here. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, center mike.
AQUIA GEMRA [?]: Hi. My name is Aquia Gemra [?], and I am a doctoral student at the School of Public Health. I’m also part of the coalition against ROTC on campus, and I speak for myself. Although the coalition agrees with a lot of the arguments I’m probably going to say.
            The first thing I want to say is that I’m greatly disappointed by the undemocratic nature of this process, as well as the non-transparent nature of the process of deciding whether ROTC should come back on campus. I do not understand and do not buy into the argument that only five universities, five schools should vote on this issue because those are the only schools that ROTC cadets have graduated from. We’re talking about the future here, which means individuals who come into this school might be going into other schools beyond the ones that the cadets have graduated from. So this argument I do not see justifiable for the way in which this has been set up. It’s gravely undemocratic and really questions the stance that we are open-minded and inclusive in everyone’s opinions.
            Additionally, I’d like to really problematize the fact that the task force has posted some of these Post articles on their website. This article is extremely one-sided and clearly mischaracterized what our side is trying to argue. And as the person before me said, it really took a small incident and sensationalized it. And as people on the left, we’re used to being marginalized, but this should not be happening on the campus with the task force putting articles like this on the website.
            I think a lot of great arguments have been made already. I don’t want to be repetitive, but I do want to really point to this. We really need to question why the university has not come out with a description of what this means for this campus. This is not a simple change. ROTC has been on Columbia’s campus for only 25 years. We really need to talk about that history. We leave things very vague so that people assume for themselves.  And this is unjust for the student body. We really need to talk about what it means that ROTC is coming back on campus, how much money students receive, what courses are going to be provided, what jurisdiction these courses have, I guess on campus, whether the university has any say on what’s taught and what’s not, and really problematize the whole process instead of making it as vague.
SAVERANCE : Please finish your thought.
GEMRA: Excuse me. But anyway I just wanted to add this to the debate. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
NATASHA: Good evening. My name is Natasha, and I’m a graduate student here. And I want to speak tonight as an international student and my expectations of what kind of education I hoped for in applying to a university like Columbia. So it is to a university that I applied to, that is, an environment which I hoped would foster open, critical dialogue among, and this is very important, students and faculty, An environment in which intellectual growth and enrichment are encouraged despite one’s affiliation, cultural background or multiple locations, but as students, all here to learn.
            A militarized campus is not what I signed up for, and as a graduate student, we are not only here for many years, but we are also deeply invested in this university as potential future teachers. So I am extremely concerned about the introduction of ROTC on campus, and quite frankly I feel cheated because again, this is not what we signed up for. The learning space, safe discussion and debate which many of us still cherish will be jeopardized, and compartmentalized, by ROTC, dividing students into students and soldiers. And so we’re not against the military, I’m not against the military, but I want to emphasize that people should be here as students primarily, interested and engaging in furthering their education and critical thinking. So this is going to affect Columbia in fundamental ways.
            And last but not least, why aren’t graduate students allowed to vote, whether for or against ROTC? Such a decision completely disregards the fact that we will all be affected, and undergraduate students are here for an average of four years. We’re here for at least seven years, and we’ll be affected way after some of the students would have graduated. So we demand the right to vote for or against ROTC as graduate students. This vote should be extended to all of us. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment, center mike.
MARILYN IVY: I’m Marilyn Ivy. I’m a professor in the department of anthropology. I do not support the return of ROTC to Columbia University, which does not mean that I think Columbia should not welcome individual soldiers or veterans into our classes, and this has been said repeatedly. We certainly do welcome soldiers and veterans, and it is my understanding, and this has been said tonight, that Columbia has more veterans in its classes than any other university in the Ivy League. But I do not support the return of ROTC because I believe the university should not have a formal institutional relationship with the military.
            But I want to speak now, though, about how appalled I am at the lack of transparency of this task force on military engagement. I’ve been to all three of these hearings. I don’t think there are too many professors who have. And just a few days before this first hearing I tried by the e-mail for questions posted on the website to obtain the names of the members of the task force, just obtain the names. In a series of e-mail exchanges, Mr. Mazor, who’s one of the co-chairs of the task force, repeatedly refused to tell me who the members were. I found that unacceptable and indeed strange, and I still do.
            So how was the task force chosen? We don’t really know. Earlier this semester, before this even came up, I noticed that Professor James Applegate was one of the signatories to a statement circulated by a group called the Faculty for Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Columbia. That’s fine. But since then, I’ve discovered that not only is he himself a member of this task force, but that he also wrote the pro-ROTC statement that was included in the 2005 task force report to the University Senate when he was the co-chair of that task force, and an earlier speaker also mentioned this.
            We are repeatedly told that the task force is impartial and non-partisan, but surely the person who plays such a central role in these task forces should have at least the appearance of neutrality. These hearings themselves are not forums for open and thoughtful discussion as the phrase goes, as they are repeatedly termed in the e-mails and information we get from the task force. They are not discussions. They are individual people coming up to a microphone, and talking into the microphone, and then sitting down. The speakers look at the task force without any dialogue or engagement whatsoever. There is no one to whom we can address questions, and no one to answer them. When asked about particulars of a future ROTC arrangement, task force members responded that they do not know. Who does know, then?
            Many of our students don’t even know what ROTC is. How are they then supposed to give an informed opinion in the poll that is being held now? I feel that at the least the possibility for real information-sharing discussion and non-partisanship should have been held open instead of the false spectacle of democracy that these hearings constitute. [Cheers and applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. [More applause and cheering] You’re taking time away from other speakers. Next comment, please. Side mike.
FATIMA: Good evening. My name is Fatima, and I’m a student in the Graduate School. And I have a brief comment that I hope helps us approach this very grave issue of opacity regarding the forum and the content of ROTC.  ROTC is often spoken about as if it’s the recruiting wing of the military, and indeed for most of its history it was. But for the last 15 years it was privatized, and it now represents one of the largest and most important contracts awarded to a private military consulting firm, MPRI, Military Professional Resources, Inc.
MPRI has over $300 billion in contracts with the Department of Defense. It runs Civilian Police International, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s composed of retired military personnel who now use their military expertise for profit. Its president, Retired General Craddock, was a staunch supporter of Guantanamo, not only as a site of detention, but he also came to the support of several officers who were charged with abuse.
And so I disagree. I disagree with some of the comments that we should expunge our moral and ethical prerogatives from the debate. And I think that it behooves us to think very seriously about the ethical price that would be brought to bear should Columbia participate in abetting the privatization of warfare, and in the ongoing pattern of not only the destruction, of the destruction and the gambling of innocent life for profit. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Next comment, please. Center mike.
GAVIN MCGOWN: Hi. My name is Gavin McGown. I’m a sophomore in Columbia College. I’m also a board member of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia and Gender Revolution. My God, it’s been a very long week for a lot of people. I think people are rightly concerned about civility within these walls. I think we should be equally concerned about civility outside of them, and what happens after we leave this debate.
            Last week I was privileged to hear classmates of mine talk about how the transgenders are getting in the way of patriotism, and to hear being transgender compared to anorexia and pedophilia. I cannot help but think these are people I go to class with. And these are the people I cannot be forbidden to be in any group with. But should this policy pass, should we bring ROTC back to campus, then there will be a group, and I cannot even be included in that discussion in virtue of being a transgender student.
            Now the point has been raised about discrimination and, Is keeping ROTC itself off of campus an act of discrimination, is it an act of intolerance? I think we have to ask ourselves, What is tolerance? And if tolerance means that we countenance not intolerant attitudes, not intolerant speech, but intolerant action. If that means that we allow groups to exist that do not allow students, faculty, persons to be within them on grounds that we have judged perfectly non-salient, that means that tolerance is no more tolerance than it is intolerance. That means that we have no more a policy than we have none, and alas our principles become no more than sophistic, empty names.
            And what on earth are we thinking? Thanks. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment, side mike.
REBECCA JORDAN-YOUNG: Rebecca Jordan-Young, faculty at Barnard. I want to address the rules that would govern the relationship between ROTC courses and the Columbia curriculum, as well as the position of ROTC faculty, because there’s been some confusion and requests for clarification. Here’s an excerpt from the U.S. law that governs the ROTC program, most recently updated in February, 2010. This is from the general military law, part 3, chapter 103, which is the ROTC portion, under section 2012 on establishment of ROTC programs. Part B reads: “No unit may be established or maintained at an institution unless (1) the senior commissioned officer of the armed force concerned who is assigned to the program at that institution is given the academic rank of professor. (2) The institution fulfills the terms of its agreement with the secretary of the military department concerned, and (3) the institution adopts as part of its curriculum a four-year course in military instruction or a two-year course of advanced training of military instruction or both, which the secretary of the military department concerned prescribes and conducts.”
            The group Advocates for ROTC maintains on their website that some elite institutions with campus ROTC programs, namely Princeton and MIT, do not actually offer credit for ROTC classes. It’s interesting that military leaders have chosen not to enforce the statutory requirements of ROTC programs at those schools, but we must make the decision at Columbia based on the actual rules and the law, not on guessing whether those rules will be enforced here.
            Briefly, I also want to address the idea that reinstating ROTC would help to diversify Columbia in terms of class as other people have addressed. Because the military is one of the few ways the poorer students in the country are able to pay for education. I am myself the daughter, niece, sister and aunt of both veterans and active duty service members. I was a first-generation college student. Most of my large, working-class family has not gone to college. I have watched as my nieces and nephews, as well as many of my young neighbors from Brooklyn, have joined the military, nearly always with the rationale that it would be a ticket to college. Overwhelmingly they have gotten tickets to Iraq and Afghanistan, and very few have gotten the education they have sought in the military. Incidentally, as with most working-class kids, the education they have gotten has mostly not been, actually none of them have been through ROTC but instead through the regular GI Bill. I do have one brother who did ROTC.
            Sending poor and working-class kids to the military is not a just education policy. It’s discrimination and it’s blackmail. Columbia doesn’t set that policy, of course, but I’m concerned that if we reinstate ROTC as a formal program at Columbia under the notion that this is a means for redressing educational inequality, we endorse that blackmail. So I oppose the reinstatement of ROTC. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment, center mike.
TANYA: Hi. My name is Tanya, and I’d like to begin by addressing something that already a few of my colleagues have addressed. But as a graduate student, I would like to be able to vote. I’m also a student at this institution, and I feel that the process has also been very undemocratic, and the lack of transparency is really alarming. I find that no matter how much I try to search for answers to, you know, where would the faculty come from, what sort of courses would be taught, I can’t find those answers. And how exactly this would happen at Columbia? We don’t know the answers to that, and I don’t feel like it’s something we can fully comprehend at this point.
            But I would like to speak on the issue of discrimination, and I know it’s been addressed some, but I’m going to pull out a few statistics, and these all come from the Department of Defense and from the V.A. Seventy-five percent of blacks, 67 percent of Hispanics and other ethnic minorities report experiencing racially offensive behavior. Many believe they were given poor assignments or evaluations based on race. Racist hate groups are actively organizing the military. On one military base alone 320 neo-Nazi extremists were identified; only two were discharged. Twenty-eight percent of women veterans said that they were raped while in the military. Those women who did report military sexual trauma while in the military state that once they filed the report, they were transferred to less desirable positions or experienced other negative consequences such as being traumatized or being court-martialed for fraternization. Not to mention that they would still have to serve with their attackers.
            According to the V.A., more than 48,000 female veterans screened positive for military sexual trauma in 2008.  Army studies have shown that up to 30 percent of troops deployed to Iraq suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD, and one out of every three homeless adults is a veteran.
            And you might ask why I’m bringing up these statistics. Hopefully it’s already clear that the issues of PTSD, the way that actually the military does affect communities of color and low-income communities is a very serious issue on this campus. And institutionalizing, and that’s a very important word for us here. It’s not that we’re not accepting students of the military. They’re more than welcome to be here and to receive scholarships from outside funding just like anyone else would. But to institutionalize the military on this campus is a very different question, and I think institutionalizing a military that has such policies of imperialism and sexism and racism and homophobia brings that to our campus here and would make many students feel uncomfortable. I know I am one of them as someone who would be discriminated against in the military for various reasons, one, my religious background and, two, being a woman, I would not feel comfortable having ROTC on this campus. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet in the audience, please. Next comment, side mike.
MICHAEL TAUSSIG:  Good evening, everybody. I agree with my colleague Millie Ivy that you have produced a very dishonest, untransparent process, totally illegitimate, and we have to start over again and have real discussion, not this ping-pong sort of bickering stuff of two minutes and 30 seconds. I am confused and I’m fearful about this suddenly announced intention to invite ROTC on campus. My name is Michael Taussig. I’ve been a professor in the anthropology department here since 1993. I’ve been working in the country of Colombia since 1969 where there are three major wars occurring. I’ve lived with people in all parts of the countryside. I think I know something about guerrilla war and why people resist the United States and the rich. I’ve also been in Afghanistan, and I’ve also been a medical doctor. And I think that probably all adds up to why I’m very leery of the military, and certainly against the institutionalization of the military in the form of ROTC. I support the people who’ve spoken. I’m not against soldiers coming to the campus. I don’t think it’s going to make the army liberal. That’s pie in the sky.
            But it’s the institutional presence of the army that is at stake here, and what people haven’t mentioned enough of, I think, is the political-historical background, and this is really a war of symbols. It’s so important to the pro-military people to have the legitimacy provided by the aura, by the halo of the universities in general and the Ivy League in particular. That’s what this is about. It’s not about getting poor kids an education, or, you know, training liberal leaders and corporals and majors and so forth.
            Now why am I confused? I’m confused because there’s a dearth of necessary information about what is entailed, what’s going in the curriculum, who’s going to be teaching, what are the courses, what numbers of people are we talking about, why are some constituencies voting and others not. Where’s the information? Why haven’t you guys done your homework?
            And I’m also worried about the unseemly speed with which this is being rammed through. A mere six days elapsed between university-wide notice and the first of these three public meetings set a week apart. What’s more, the format of these meetings is hardly conducive to discussion. That’s the confusion.
            As to the fear, let me start with undergraduate Dean Moody-Adams, who was involved with ROTC at Cornell, facing down our undergraduates last week with a rhetorical question: Is there any reason not to welcome ROTC here at Columbia?
SAVERANCE: Please finish your thought.
TAUSSIG: My response is yes. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, institutionalized torture, using military tribunals that are not courts at all, nine years of war in Afghanistan getting nowhere against an enemy that was created by the Great Communicator.
MAZOR: Thank you very much.
TAUSSIG: And waging war, waging war on weapons of mass destruction that have yet ten years later to be found.
MAZOR: Thank you. Next comment please. [Cheers and applause] Quiet from the audience. Center mike. Please speak.
ROBERT McCAUGHEY: Great timing, Bob. My name is Bob McCaughey. I teach American history at Barnard College and I’ve been here at Columbia since 1969. In the interest of full disclosure, I went to college on a NROTC scholarship. It allowed me to leave Rhode Island forever. [Laughter] If you’re not familiar with Rhode Island, it’s a little bit in this regard like New Jersey. [Laughter]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
McCAUGHEY: I’m breaking with what I think is the single consensus that we’ve achieved tonight. Everything, everyone has had something, either nothing to say or something bad to say about the Senate’s precipitous taking up of this issue. And I would like to dissent on that as at least part of our remarks. I think at the moment Columbia University is living in a, let us call it an inconsistency, if not a lie.
            Back in 2005, the last time, there have been since some affirmations of our position, but back in 2005, the university took a position that there was a basic conflict between the university’s view of what are appropriate rights of minority groups on campus and the military’s current policy that goes back to 1994, namely, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And it was largely on the basis of that, there was reference to the provost at that time, Alan Brinkley’s rather strong moral statement about his views of that matter, and the university’s official position seemed to be very strongly couched in terms of the inconsistency between the university’s position and the military’s current position as dictated by the legislature, by Congress, not by the military. That has changed. It changed in December, and there are still some issues to be sorted out. But I think since that period, the university remains in a position that it took in 2005, but it took in 1969 as well, namely, virtually a sign out on 116th and Broadway that the military ROTC programs are not welcome at Columbia. And it has held to that position over nearly now 50 years. And I think in its last iteration of that policy it left itself with a position that is no longer viable.
            I think the position is wrong. I think it is wrong full stop as the first point. I think it is wrong because is misrepresents Columbia’s position with respect to the military, which has I think just about everyone who has spoken to this issue tonight has agreed.
SAVERANCE : Please finish your thought.
McCAUGHEY: It’s far more open than it has been before. I think also we are doing ourselves and the country a disservice by not engaging in the very issues that have been asked. What kind of ROTC program –
MAZOR: Thank you very much.
McCAUGHEY: Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Next comment, please. Side mike.
AMIEL MELNICK: Hi. My name is Amiel. I’m a student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. What I’m going to say has been said before. I think it bears reiterating. One of the larger questions underlying the discussions of ROTC, although not as much tonight, has been that of the military-civilian divide in the United States, and the sense that this is a bad thing has been one of the ideas motivating an argument for inclusion of ROTC even for those who are anti-war. I’ve been struggling a lot with this question myself, and I think that there’s a confusion as to whether we’re talking about civilian individuals, getting to know individuals in the military, or whether we’re talking about the political divide between civilian and military, which is in fact a structuring principle of the United States’ political order.
            Whatever we think of that order, it seems to me that not asking ROTC to return preserves the latter political divide, and does very little to affect the former. The political version of the military-civilian divide is what allows the United States to keep the military subordinate to civilian authority. I think even those who entirely support the global role of the U.S. military, which I do not, would agree that this separation of power and subordination are a good thing. It seems to me that supporting the military’s attempts to become a civil society institution, as one professor put it last night, would confuse a division that we’re concerned about preserving.
            The question of individuals getting to know each other is a separate question, and is something that’s happening in many ways already on this campus, as many people have said tonight. So while I fully support the education of individuals who have been in the military or wish to pursue military careers here, I think those students should be on this campus primarily as students as they currently are. And I don’t think that military service is an identity that needs to be protected by being institutionalized on the campus.
            So a final comment regarding questions of process that people have been bringing up. Last night there was a panel discussion where people gave opinions against ROTC and there was a question-and-answer period following. And it was a huge relief to be in a space where we were allowed to ask questions, even if those questions weren’t substantive about ROTC. You could feel it in the calm and respect in which the conversation was framed. And so I think that event revealed a fundamental flaw of the hearings, and all the opinion-gathering fora that the task force is providing. Our opinions are being solicited, yet no information has been given to us about what the ROTC program will actually look like, and in none of these fora are we permitted to ask questions, other than the infamous rhetorical questions.
            This university is being vaunted as a space in which military officers will learn to be democratic. Several people have pointed out that this is rather patronizing, and I think also self-aggrandizing.
SAVERANCE: Please finish your thought.
AMAIL: The institutionalized forms of democracy on this campus are revealing themselves to be quite inadequate. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, center mike.
DINA AHMAD [?]: Good evening. My name is Dina Ahmad and I’m a graduate student. And I’m against the ROTC program coming back to campus for three main reasons. First, I would like to speak to the undemocratic nature of this process. Many people have already spoke about how opaque it is and how as a graduate student, my voice has been silenced. And I think as somebody coming from my vantage point, I think my voice is something to be heard, or is valuable.
            Two. This is an institution of higher learning. Students ought to be challenging and grappling with questions of power at stake in the world. And I think questioning whether or not ROTC should be institutionalized on campus is one of these questions. I’m an American and I have a vested interest in altering the United States presence, military presence, in the Middle East and the Arab world because I am an Arab and I’m a Muslim woman, and for decades presidents and government officials have justified military intervention in the Arab and Muslim world under the guise of liberating women who speak like me and believe in the same things I do.
            I know that I’m only one person and I do not represent a homogenous community. But from my vantage point, liberty does not look like the images I associate with the military. One, for example, the tear gas canisters that were thrown at Egyptian protestors during the revolution a few weeks ago were engraved “made in the U.S.A.”  They were protesting against a dictatorship that had lasted over 30 years that was sanctioned by the United States.
            Images of Abu Ghraib prison, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, images of dead, naked bodies stacked up on top of each other with United States prison guards taking pictures of them—those are things that I associate with the United States military. I associate images of Guantanamo Bay prison. I associate images of the United States military with rolling vehicles going into my village in Israel, Palestine, picking up my cousin and taking him out to jail. These are the images that I associate with the military.
            And as I said before, I attend an institution of higher learning where I would hope that as students we could imagine ways to disassociate and disengage with organized violence committed abroad.
            Three. Columbia University already has a relationship with the military. General Studies is where veterans can unlearn what they have already learned in the military.
SAVERANCE: Please finish your thought.
AHMAD: And dehumanize, victimize, occupy the lands, bodies and people like me. Thank you. [Cheers and applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment. Side mike.
PACO MARTIN DEL CAMPO: My name is Paco Martin del Campo. I’m that awful person who had that awful quote in the Spec about the last town hall. I will start by saying I was not a heckler, one of the few. But let me just point out that the response from the quotes that I think I gave in the Spec as I understand it has resulted in death threats against my life from avid right-wing bloggers. I actually wanted to bring that –
MAZOR: Please address the panel.
MARTIN DEL CAMPO: Actually wanted to bring this idea up that I was being protected. Well, it’s an important idea. If I’m being defended by people, I think in an intellectual environment we’d hold this idea under the microscope and actually think about it. Because I hold that this past town hall is actually a very teachable moment, and we’re missing the lessons, which is that free speech is very much an issue in our society, and speaking out against war is very much a free speech issue. And if you cannot, and people like me who did not heckle but are going to be dished out collective punishment just for our opinions that we’re holding, then that becomes an issue of free speech. And if we can’t speak out without being questioned as unpatriotic, then any student of history can tell you that this is a classic way of silencing the anti-war protest. And I want to pause that this is a serious issue that we need to be discussing as we talk about this.
            So with that said, I want to also point out that people who have been tabling against ROTC have been intimidated by having people come up in aggressive manner. We’ve had things thrown at us. We’ve been treated as if we are not a part of this community. And as somebody said, as Professor Blackmar said in last night’s event, all the threats of violence have not come from our side. None of them have actually. [Applause]
            And so I want to close by also raising serious questions about the democratic process of this review of ROTC. And there are plenty of reasons why I could argue, I mean, but I’ll use for example the argument that only the schools that can vote are the ones that are, are the only ones that are going to be affected by ROTC. This is such flawed logic it’s so intellectually dishonest, I can’t believe it’s actually being uttered on this university. I mean, honestly, imagine if only people being affected by Proposition A were allowed to vote in California. Imagine what would happen then. But that’s not the way it works. This is democracy.
SAVERANCE : Please finish your thought.
MARTIN DEL CAMPO: So I just want to know, and I’d actually like a response to see how the Senate task force actually plans to address these issues with the democratic process. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, center mike.
EDITH PARKS:  Edith Parks, School of Continuing Ed. I was told you can’t change somebody’s mind by being a cheerleader. We lead by example. I’m not an airborne ranger, but I’m airborne qualified.
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
PARKS. I’m not an infantrywoman, because there’s no such thing as one. But ROTC doesn’t really make warmongers. I was never taught or I never learned how to point a rifle at a college student or use it recklessly. Nor would I ever order my soldiers to. Sorry, I forgot.
MAZOR: Please take your time.
PARKS: I’ve never been to the Middle East, and if you ask me what it’s like, I wouldn’t know because I’m non-deployable as a cadet, but once I graduate I will go. And if I got a phone call tonight for me to deploy overseas, I would go the next day. I’ve been following the debates from the first debate, and from the first hearing on, and I did my research and I’ve come to realize that I empathize about why people wouldn’t want ROTC on their campus, and I mean, I would empathize, and also I understand, and also.
SAVERANCE : Need you to finish your thought, please.
PARKS: It’s because I live the army values. Thank you. {Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please, side mike.
ALBERTO ARIA: Good evening. My name is Alberto Aria. I am a student at Columbia University, at General Studies. I want to make two points. First, ROTC is an exclusionary scholarship program. However, if you go on Columbia’s website, there’s many exclusionary scholarship programs: African American scholarship programs, Latin American like myself, scholarship programs, there’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender scholarship programs. And I embrace them, why don’t you embrace us? I’m also a United States Marine.
            Second, I’d like to give you a little of my background. I’m Latin American as I said, and my parents both immigrated to this country. My father fled a dictatorship in Cuba, a dictatorship that’s still there today. And he’s proud to be an American, and not only is he an American, but he’s an American by choice. And even though I was born in this country, I’m proud to be an American, and I consider myself an American by choice because I can go to other places if I see fit. But I choose this place because I love this place, and I’m proud of it. And I think this is the best place to live.
            Columbia University students and faculty are all members of the United States. Even if they’re not citizens or residents, they’re just here temporarily, they have chosen to be here, and by doing so they validate the principles of the United States of America. The American flag flies over Columbia University. Columbia University honors the United States. However, there are individuals, groups and or countries, who wish for some reason or another to impose their will on the United States of America and its people. Thankfully, there is one organization whose sole purpose is to prevent that from happening. And that is the United States Armed Forces. [Applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
ARIA: It is shameful that the United States Armed Forces are not allowed on this campus in every way, shape or form. Not only should we accept them. We should embrace them. And I cannot fully say that I’m proud to be a Columbia University student until that day. So I request that you return ROTC on campus to honor our country and the men and women who fought and continue to fight for its freedom. Thank you. [Cheers and applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment, center mike.
SURESH NAIDU: Hi. My name is Suresh Naidu. I’m an assistant professor of economics at SIPA. And I’m just, I’m a civilian, and I’m. [Laughter]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience please.
NAIDU: I’m just going to bring up a point about governance. I mean, it looks like this is going to go through no matter what we say. So. But. So let me just bring up a point about government. You know, and just as sort of a junior faculty. You know, so the military gets to choose its members, the instructors that come to Columbia that then get to teach Columbia classes and it’s subject to Columbia’s approval. But, you know, these people are very, very qualified, and I’m sure they know a lot about what they do. But the point is that I think that being a soldier is kind of a full-time commitment of not just kind of your time, but really the kind of profession that has a higher calling. But so is being a scholar. And so is kind of the thing of like being willing to contest ideas no matter where they come from, no matter where they lead, and to be willing to disobey orders to do that is the kind of sort of spirit that the scholar brings to their inquiry that is not clear to someone that’s living under orders. And I’m thinking particularly of the faculty, not the students that have to take orders are less willing to do that or unable to do that. And as someone that’s actually tried to get studies sort of parts of the military and extract sort of pieces of data from them, it’s an incredibly. It stonewalls. If you’re not part of them, they don’t want to have anything to do with you. And it’s sort of, as a culture, it doesn’t seem to be terribly interested in having, you know, the free spirit of academia and skepticism sort of in its halls.
            So if that’s true about inside the military, you know, where we’re talking about Columbia coming and becoming, you know, diversifying Columbia. Well, when do I get my rank of colonel? That’s all. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
[?]: My name is [?] and I’m a student at GS and I’m also a United States Marine Corps veteran. I served three tours in Iraq and I would like to speak in support of ROTC tonight. When I joined the military at 18 years old, 17 years old, I joined in a community that was not particularly military-friendly. I was one of three students out of my high school to join the military. And when I did so, I heard a lot of the same arguments being made that I was joining a force of killers, that everybody in the military were baby killers, that they don’t treat minorities well, that they have huge issues with the way they treat women, and, you know, in a lot of ways I would agree with some of these arguments. And I really do feel for the people who oppose ROTC at this point because it seems, it seems like they feel attacked by the military side.
            And I want to say I understand what it feels like to feel like nobody agrees with you, and to feel like nobody thinks that you’re saying the right thing. Because that is exactly how I felt when I joined the military, and I could have gone to college. My family could have afforded to send me to college, and I had the grades to do it. But instead I chose to join the military of my own will.
            It’s frustrating to me that in this debate an issue as sensitive as sexual assault on female military service members has come up as a talking point, and is being used on posters. Because to me it seems to me that that should not be involved in the debate as to whether to allow ROTC on campus or not. ROTC is a volunteer program for people who want to volunteer their time to the military, to be able to train in order to do so. And I think that what really should be focused on is whether or not the opportunity is open to people who are interested in doing that. And currently it isn’t really. And that was, I mean, the situation was just as frustrating when I joined the military out of my high school. Recruiters weren’t allowed on campus. I had to search out the person that I wanted to speak to about my future career goals. Nobody else had to do that. Everybody could speak to whatever college they wanted to speak to. And that’s disheartening.
            But beyond that, ROTC is not a bastion of disrespect and hatred. It is an organization, it is part of the U.S. government, and it is part of the U.S. military, which is a facet of our country, and I think it deserves to be included in this university. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please.
STEVEN GOLDSTEIN: Right. I’m Steven Goldstein and I am a professor of earth and environmental sciences, and I’m speaking here—I'm not a vet. I was 18 in 1971 and I received a high lottery number. I was active in opposing the Vietnam War and I would do so again. And I am a graduate of Columbia College. So that’s where I’m coming from. My experience with the military comes from the fact that my ex-wife has worked for the army social services in bases in Europe for 26 years, and through my experience as a spouse I got to know many aspects of Army life and many members of the enlisted and the officer corps. And what I learned is that the armed forces have, and this is my experience, okay? I learned that the armed forces have been ahead of society on many social issues, including non-discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic background or religion, integration of living quarters, integration of the workplace, and respect for others outside of the workplace.
            My experience with the officer corps is that it is a highly professional group of individuals. Overall they come from a lower socioeconomic background than the typical Columbia student, and I think it would be beneficial to the officer corps if more of them could obtain a Columbia undergraduate education. And I think it would benefit the student body’s diversity if there were more students from that segment of the population that feeds the officer corps. Okay?
            In terms of the mission. The mission of the armed forces is to follow the decisions of our civilian government. Okay? I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions expressed here. 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.
            If we accept that the military is an important institution, then we should aim to make it as good as it could be and educating the leaders is the best thing that we can do for it. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
RONALD BRONFMAN:  Hi. My name is Ron Bronfman and I’m an M.B.A. at the Columbia Business School. I’m also a veteran and a reservist. I’m pro-choice. I believe discrimination of any form should be condemned and abolished. Therefore, I feel obligated to stand by those who are misrepresented or condemned by such policy. I am referring of course to those who are less fortunate compared to the majority that is in this room and cannot afford to Columbia on their own terms.
            These young people who choose to break the vicious cycle of their socioeconomic background by pursuing an honorable profession serving their country should be praised for that decision, not condemned. Criticizing the military for supposedly preying on these individuals and banning ROTC based on that argument is nothing short of hypocrisy and is demeaning to each and every person who ever made the conscious choice to undertake ROTC. By keeping ROTC out of Columbia we are telling these individuals that while they’re good enough to serve and protect, to put their lives on the line so we can practice free speech here and debate whether to accept them or not, they’re in fact persona non grata here. This position has nothing to do with the moral stance some people try to advocate here It is simply elitist, snobbish, and condescending, using pretext of discrimination as an argument –
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
BRONFMAN: -- using the pretext of discrimination as an argument to support the much wider and far more dangerous agenda which only widens the already large gap between this nation’s social elite and less privileged ones.
            I find this position immoral and disgraceful, and therefore an unacceptable one. I feel that with DADT out of the way, the primary moral argument for banning ROTC is gone, and any discrimination issue is nothing but pretext for those who stubbornly choose to confuse their views concerning policymaking with their stand concerning the executing arm of these policies.
            Furthermore, in order to expedite the proliferation of any liberal policy in the military, one requires well educated and multicultural officers. The way to become such an officer does not start in Fort Bragg; it starts right here. President Kennedy once said, Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. In my mind ROTC [?]the ultimate reconciliation of that statement. It enables the country to reward those who choose to serve on its behalf, and this should be respected.
            Finally, in his State of the Union, President Obama called on, and I quote, all colleges, all college campuses, to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC. I implore you to follow his plea. Thank you.  [Applause and cheers]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Center mike.
DEENA: My name is Deena and I’m an anthropology graduate student. I’m also an international student. I hope we all know that the world is bigger than only the U.S.A., and so is the student community at Columbia. We have students here coming from all around the world, including those countries where America is at war with, has military bases with, has tear gas made in the U.S. on their heads, has been breathing this tear gas. So yes, many of us do feel attacked by the military because we were literally attacked by the military. So I do think we have a big reason to feel attacked [Applause] by the military.
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
DEENA: So if we are saying that we want to bring back ROTC to Columbia in order to broaden the discussion or discourse about the military, you are rejecting those students who are coming from abroad who have experienced military and know what it means.  You are excluding, you’re not including them in this discussion when you say, yes, you are bringing the military back to this university, and at the same time you are saying, yes, we open our doors to Iraqi students who have parents being killed by the military or houses being destroyed by the military, and I’m speaking about the U.S. military. And so, yes, if you want to have a discourse, discussion about it, don’t keep them out in this way, and I think that’s it. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
MICHAEL ZAPATA: Good evening. My name is Michael Zapata. I’m in the Business School. I’m a nine-and-a-half-year vet and I last got out as a lieutenant back in October. So I’ve been fortunate to serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, countries in the Middle East and countries around Africa. I can tell you from firsthand experience that there are issues with the military. Is there equality? No, I think our policy states that we are not completely equal and we don’t have open arms for everybody. We can’t argue with that.
            As for another form of equality, I think, you know, I’ve said this before, but a friend of mine, my brother-in-law said at my wedding that a Mexican Navy SEAL officer is like a unicorn. You always hear about them, but you never get to see one. [Laughter] So I can tell you firsthand that they don’t have full representation across the board. I like to think that I’ve made a change while I was there, and I also like to think that I’ve paved the way for others to take the baton and keep going with that. It’s all about change from the inside. You’re not going to be able to do it from the outside.
            Now what does it mean? Life is about choices and opportunities. That’s what we’re all faced with every day. These students coming to you, these ROTC elective students coming to you, they’re not veterans, they’re not combat veterans. I’m a combat veteran. I’ve been fortunately [?] in combat, and I think I’m a better man for that. These students that are going to be with you, they’re 18-21-year-olds. They’re coming to you at the start of their lives just like you are, coming to college, coming to a university, getting ready to start their careers. And it’d be great to start having an impact on them at this time.
            Are they poor students? No. I grew, I grew up on government cheese. I grew up on welfare, and I can tell you that I went to the ROTC as a choice. I didn’t take the military money. I worked my way through college, took college loans out. When my parents could help me, they could. But again, it’s about choice.
            Now, the former connection. You have an opportunity to get these kids now at your level and start having good relationships with them because they’re going to take that with you across the board. ROTC is about electives. They don’t have to go into the military. I’ve had friends that did not go into the military. I was in ROTC as well at Texas A&M University.
            I will say one last thing. As far as the vote goes –
SAVERANCE: Please finish your thought.
ZAPATA: -- I also wish the vote was open to everybody because I think now Columbia as leaders, they can prove to the nation that we all do want equality, and by having equality we can actually show everybody by voting for ROTC we want to take this opportunity.
MAZOR: Thank you very much. [Applause]  At this point we’re actually five minutes over our time. We’ll remain for the following comments, but the event is concluded, and if you want to leave, you’re welcome to. Next comment, please.
NICK: How are you doing? My name is Nick. I am a student in General Studies. I am also a member of the crazy, evil, radical student group Lucha, and I am damn proud of that. And I would like to first address the issue of heckling. Heckling at most is an annoyance. What is outrageous is when students on this campus are threatened with death from people in mainstream news media, people on this campus, people within our own school blogs, and the fact that the university has done nothing to address this is even more outrageous. [Applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
NICK: I’d like to also address this idea of a vote. It’s my understanding that what you are calling a vote is not a vote. What you are calling a vote is merely a survey because this vote does not include the votes of everyone at this university. And more importantly, this vote does not have an actual literal effect in the decision. The vote and its outcome will not be the decision that this task force, this mysterious task force that we have no idea who it is, will be doing.
            To call it a vote is as ridiculous as to call what I am doing with you right now a discussion. This is not a discussion.  [Cheers and applause] This is not a discussion. I am sitting here, standing here, I am standing here yelling at you, and it’s time you learned the difference. [Laughter]
            Lastly, I’d like to say something that I said at the other two meetings, and I will say again. I am not against veterans, I’m not against active duty military members. I am against the United States military and the things that it does. If we want to have conversations among people from diverse backgrounds in this community, we can establish our own clubs. We have, as has been said, more veterans on this campus than any other Ivy League campus in the nation. If we want to have these conversations, we can do that ourselves, and we do not need to invite the military back here to do that. And more importantly, I think we will learn from these discussions that we are not all Americans. We are all Columbia students from across the world. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Quiet from the audience, please. As a reminder, we are out of time. This is time we’re spending of our own. Next comment, please.
ROSALIND MORRIS: My name is Rosalind Morris. I am a professor in the department of anthropology. I’ve been here for 17 years. I spoke against the reinstatement of ROTC in 2005, I spoke against it in 2008, and I will speak against it again this evening.
            Like many people here this evening, I have been extremely distressed by the procedures of this task force: its lack of transparency, the lack of transparency about the status of its advice to the Senate, the failure to provide information as the basis of polling, and the failure to assess levels of knowledge as the basis of assessing the polling that it does undertake.
            Perhaps most disturbing to me is the way in which the task force has represented its mandate in terms of the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It has suggested that the default position is the reinstatement of ROTC on campus. ROTC was on campus for only 25 of the last 65 years. To reinstate ROTC is to reverse precedent and to undertake an enormous transformation of the environment of Columbia University. It has done so on the grounds that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the only question that should be the basis for this consideration. Either this means that ROTC left Columbia because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or it means that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell eliminated discrimination. Neither of these things is true. There remains discrimination in the armed forces, not only against transgendered persons, but against persons with disability, persons with mental illness, a whole variety of issues constitute reasons for exclusion from ROTC.
            More than that, however, ROTC didn’t leave campus because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It left campus in a moment in which the majority of the faculty on this university determined that the United States was engaged in an unjust, illegitimate and murderous war. They did not wish ROTC to be on campus, not only because they did not support that war, but because ROTC entailed the presence of instructors who were not subject to oversight by Columbia University’s faculties and offered credit for courses that were not subject to overview by the committee on instruction. Neither of those things has changed.
            But I would simply like to second the statements raised by the rest of my colleagues here, namely, that the university and the military have separate functions, separate logics, the separation of powers, the separation of civilian and military institutions as the bedrock of democracy. It is not the army that protects democracy. What nurtures democracy is the cultivation of critical thought in a free and unfettered environment. That is radically undermined by the presence of uniformed members in our classrooms. I do not exclude veterans from classes.
SAVERANCE : Please finish your thought.
MORRIS: I welcome them. But uniformed presence is different. [Cheers and applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please. Next speaker. Center mike.
FERIDE ERALP:  So my name is Feride Eralp, and I’m a first-year in Columbia College. I’m going to just make a very short comment and leave the rest of my time to the people behind me. What I was going to say is actually quite useless right now because it was in the vein of what Professor Morris just said. And I was going to say that it’s important to remember that, to remember the original reasons for the repeal, for the rejection of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by the University Council. The University Council published a report, and in this report it said that they did not think military courses should receive academic credit, and that military instructors should hold academic rank. These were the two reasons within the report issued in 1969.  It’s very important to see that these reasons have not changed, and in this report Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not mentioned. And I don’t understand how the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is therefore grounds for even having this discussion. Once again, it was not the reason for the rejection of ROTC.
            What the University Council in their report upheld was the separation between military space and academic space, and this does not mean that soldiers cannot exist within that academic space. It merely means that soldiers, once they are within that academic space, are students and not soldiers. When they come to this university, they come as students and not as soldiers representing the military institution. And it is this that makes me feel safe in this university, not the wars that the U.S. military is waging on foreign soil. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
BRIAN DONNELLY: Hi. My name is Brian Donnelly. I’m a third-year law student. I was a graduate of the ROTC program at Cornell, spent four years as a military officer in the Marine Corps before going to law school, including six months in Iraq. I have no idea where weapons of mass destruction are, but neither was I the guy that said they were there.
            I want to make two points. One, when I was in the ROTC program when I was sitting in classrooms with my fellow students, I was first and foremost a student and second a soldier. And so I’d like to make that point. Second, to the task force, this is on the point that nothing has changed since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because the military still discriminates against transgender people. First, I want to say that I am a firm supporter of LGBT rights. I was when I was in the military, and I wasn’t fired for it, and I wasn’t disciplined for it. And I still am today. But I think, I would just urge you to look into what actually constitutes what’s being called the ban on transgender students. I think it’s fundamentally different from the ban on gay and lesbian students under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and that’s not to make a normative statement one way or the other. I just urge you to look fully into what constitutes that ban when you make your decision. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Center mike.
SANI BARAGAN [SP?]: Hi. My name is Isani Baragain. I’m a Ph.D. student in history.
CHRISTOPHER SANTIAGO: My name is Christopher Santiago. I’m a Ph.D. student in anthropology.
BARAGAN AND SANTIAGO: And we’re here today to express our pledge of resistance by showing how the support of ROTC would essentially support the ongoing unjust war in Iraq. And so we believe, we believe, that as people living, that as people living, in the United States, in the United States, it’s our responsibility, it is our responsibility, to resist the injustices, to resist the injustices, done by our government, done by our government, in our names, in our names.  Not in our name, not in our name, will you wage endless war, will you wage endless war. There can be no more deaths, there can be no more deaths, no more transfusions, no more transfusions, of blood for oil, of blood for oil. Not in our name, not in our name, will you invade countries, will you invade countries, bomb civilians, bomb civilians, kill more children, kill more children, letting history take its course, letting history take its course, over the graves of the nameless, over the graves of the nameless. Not in our name, not in our name, will you erode the very freedom, will you erode the very freedoms, you have claimed, you have claimed, to fight for, to fight for. Not by our hands, not by our hands, will we supply, will we supply, weapons and funding, weapons and funding, for the annihilation, for the annihilation, of families, of families, on foreign soil, on foreign soil. Not by our mouths, not by our mouths, we will let fear silence us, we will let fear silence us. Not by our hearts, not by our hearts, will we allow whole peoples, will we let whole peoples, of countries, of countries, to be deemed others, to be deemed others. Not by our will, not by our will, and not in our name, and not in our name, we pledge resistance to ROTC, we pledge resistance to ROTC. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Next comment, please. Side mike.
SUMAYYA KASSIMALI: Hi. My name is Sumayya Kassimali. I’m a graduate student in anthropology. One of the things about speaking at the end is nearly everything’s been said. But I’ve been here the past two weeks, and I just want to reiterate a couple points. So first of all, I’d like to repeat the comment that has been made by so many people which is to draw attention to the complete lack of ethics around the procedure of this task force, as well as draw attention to the incredible hostility that students who have spoken out against ROTC have faced. One hundred percent of the threats of violence against us have come from the pro-ROTC supporters. It’s not clear whether they are campus community members or not. I hope not. And to the person who said that I understand what it feels like to be marginalized, I’d like to say that those who opposed ROTC for reasons of being against war and against militarism, we’re actually not marginalized. We represent the majority of this country’s population who are adamantly against the wars.
            Second of all, to those who say that we only have this space because the military fights to protect us. Our intellectual, physical, personal, political freedoms are not the gifts of the U.S. military. If anything, they exist in spite of what the U.S. military has historically done. [Applause and cheers] Let’s remind ourselves that universities in this country have been historically the centers of social critique and political opposition. And many of the people that we read in class, the authors and the writers who are supposedly going to expand the mind of the military and reform them represent this tradition of resistance to authority and to power. And so I’d also like to remind us that the last time ROTC was on campus was during Vietnam, and we have absolutely no evidence that Columbia graduates from the ROTC program were huge contributors to ending the Vietnam war, absolutely not. Vietnam ended because of a popular movement, not because ROTC cadets had read political theory and decided maybe we should fight the war better. [Cheers and applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please.
KASSIMALI: Lastly, I’d just like to say, many people have called upon Columbia to institute better funding opportunities, and I agree nobody should have to risk their life or have to go through a military training in order to access Columbia’s education. But we also need to hold the military accountable. If they want their officers to have the type of critical education that Columbia offers, then they need to create those opportunities themselves. [Applause]
MAZOR: Quiet from the audience, please. Next comment, center mike.
ALLAN SILVER: Yes. I’m Allan Silver. I’m a professor of sociology, now emeritus. I’ve been at Columbia since 1964 so I’m a living bridge to the events of the sixties, to the time of Vietnam and to the end of NROTC in ’69. I agree with some of the speakers that there has been not enough information about what ROTC would be if it returned here, and I also think that the survey or poll is premature in part for that reason. It’s perfectly true that the grounds on which ROTC left here and in nine other private selective schools across the country had to do with the faculties being driven by the passions of Vietnam to discover that they lost control of the curriculum and the faculty appointments in relation to ROTC and the credits were being given for substandard courses. It was exactly the same script in all the other schools, the Ivies and at Stanford.
            In my view the same conditions apply today. If ROTC were to return, as I strongly hope it will, it will have to conform with the standards set by the faculty with respect to faculty appointments and curriculum. No doubt about it. Those are the terms. The legislation that has been quoted is in force, but contractual agreements are made with, as at MIT, to apply the proper standards.
            Finally, many of us have passionate disagreements on matters of policy. No one set of opinions has the right to dominate the university and exclude others. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. Final comment please.
AARTI SETHI: Hi. Good evening. My name is Aarti Sethi, and I’m a Ph.D. student in the department of anthropology. This is the third meeting I’m coming for and nearly everything, all my substantive reasons for opposing ROTC on campus have been mentioned by many, many people—my colleagues, faculty here in these meetings, in writing, in conversation. So today I just want to extend my solidarity to all of them, and I also want to reach out to members of the Columbia community who disagree with me, I think, in the concluding session of what has been a pretty exhausting process. If nothing else, at least we have a better sense of where all of us are coming from.
            I want to say something very, very simple today which is that at the heart of it, my opposition to ROTC is just based on very simple humanist principle which is that no one should be asked to stake their life or the lives of others as the price of a college degree, and when the university allies institutionally with the military, it tells a certain section of its students that your life and the life of others are the price of your education. This demand is made on nobody else on this campus, and I think it is a profoundly immoral demand. You could say, as others have said, that the ends of knowledge are dominant. And many courses offered on this campus could be used, you know, potentially toward the loss of human life. You’re absolutely right, and that is more the reason we should oppose ROTC because we realize the enormous burden being placed on people when they are in a position when nothing, no policy document, no telephone call, no button, no nothing mediates or stands between them and violence. Nothing at all.
            If we really want a citizen army, then let’s bring the draft back. It cannot be that some people have the luxury of being citizens and others bear the burden of being soldiers. If we want a citizen army, then let us all share equally the psychic burden we place right now on a small number of people in our societies. Till then, till we are equally willing to share this burden, let’s not ransom the humanity of others as the condition of our own. Thank you. [Applause]
MAZOR: Thank you very much. A few quick reminders. At this point the hearing is closed. Our survey of opinion, which has gone out to Columbia College, Barnard College, SEAS, SIPA and GS, closes tomorrow at 12 p.m., sorry 12 a.m., midnight. That’s our set of hearings. These will all be made public. You’ll see a transcript as soon as it’s available. We’ll make our audio recordings available shortly. Thank you very much and have a good evening.