Return of ROTC to Columbia University? An Issue Much Larger Than ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Katherine Franke: The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not, alone, justify the suspension of Columbia’s objections to the on-campus integration of civilian and military education.

Harvard University announced last week that it would reinstate its on-campus ROTC program, after barring the military training program from campus for 41 years. On March 4th, Columbia University’s Senate will begin deliberations on whether Columbia should follow suit. (Columbia students who wish to enroll in ROTC can do so through Fordham’s program, and receive full financial and other benefits.)

The Senate’s Task Force on Military Engagement has held a series of hearings on the issue, soliciting input from a range of stake-holders. They have set up a useful and informative website containing information about the history of ROTC at Columbia as well as materials related to recent efforts to revisit the policy.

Faculty have submitted in-person testimony and written positions on the issue. Both the Law and Business School Deans have issued statements enthusiastically supporting the return of ROTC to Columbia (the Law School Dean expresses support for the return of ROTC to Columbia in light of the value he sees in having students in the classroom who have served in the military, thereby blurring the distinction between ROTC and a GI bill — the latter I would join the Dean in supporting).

This is the letter I sent to the Task Force on Military Engagement this week, urging the Columbia Community to see this issue as involving more than the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:

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March 10th, 2011

Staff Reporter

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