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Columbia U. President Defends ROTC Ban In Statement

This story was written by Lien Hoang, Columbia Daily Spectator

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger released a campus-wide statement Thursday defending Columbia's decision to ban the Reserve Office Training Corps one day before theUniversity Senate plans to discuss ROTC and before student leaders are to hold what will likely be the largest meeting so far on the return of the Naval ROTC.

The e-mail statement also noted that Columbia is "open for robust discussion and debate."

Bollinger reminded students that "in 2005, the University Senate voted overwhelmingly against formally inviting ROTC onto campus," largely because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Bollingersuggested Columbia respect the Senate's decision, noting that a change in the school's policy might be ineffective because "the Department of Defense (DOD) has, for its own fiscal reasons, instituted a policy of aggregating small numbers of ROTC students in urban areas into pooled programs on a limited number of campuses." Because only five Columbia students are enrolled in ROTC, the DOD might continue to host its regional programs only at Fordham and St. John's.

Though Bollinger stressed that students can participate in ROTC at other campuses, student leaders have said they want to deal specifically with NROTC because, unlike other branches of ROTC, it's not an option for Columbia students.