Columbia U. Student Councils To Hold ROTC Forum

This story was written by Joy Resmovits, Columbia Daily Spectator

Columbia University's student councils will host an open meeting on Friday to plan forums addressing the possible return of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, Adil Ahmed, vice president of policy for Columbia College Student Council and CC 09, announced in an e-mail Wednesday.

The question of bringing an NROTC program has been raised and is being entertained by the undergraduate University Senators, wrote Ahmed in an e-mail to student groups.

Ahmed noted that there would be two forums, one at Barnard and the other at Columbia.

We will be working closely with the University Senators to provide the campus with a timetable history of ROTC activity in the past, and hosting two forums for groups to present their respective views to the campus, Ahmed said.

The councils will administer a survey following the forums to measure student interest in ROTCs campus presence. Though they will have the assistance of advisers, they will draft the surveys questions without the input of student groups.

The meeting on Friday is specifically to get a feel for student interest for the forums. Ahmed clarified that it is a planning meeting, not a political debate.

The universitys policy on ROTC allows students to join aggregate ROTC programs at other universities in New York City, while barring actual ROTC programs here due to the "dont ask dont tell" policy. A University Senate debate concluded that the policy discriminates against a sector of Columbia students.

Provost Alan Brinkley said that he personally would have no problems with ROTC if it repealed "dont ask dont tell." But, Brinkley added, the issue may be moot. Its very unlikely that ROTC would choose to come back to Columbia because there is just not enough interest in that to justify multiple ROTC units in the city, he said.

President Bollinger has said that this [the University Senate] is the most appropriate body to deal with this issue, said Genevieve Thornton, Columbia Business School student and co-chair of the University Senate Student Affairs Caucus. Thorntons concerns echoed Brinkleys.

Its just not a hot-button issue among the grad schools, she said. My question is, even if the ban is repealed, will the Navy spend the money to bring it back on campus?

Shane Ferro contributed reporting to this article.