Myth: Students at top colleges are too anti-military to welcome ROTC
Instance of the myth: A New York Post article described how some "hissed and booed" as a Columbia University student who is a wounded Iraq veteran made a pro-ROTC point at Town Hall meeting on the ROTC issue, giving rise to concerns that top colleges are too anti-military to welcome ROTC. The article created the impression that the rude treatment was because he was a veteran.
Facts: At any top college, robust debate is expected over important campus changes, and at times such debate can be rude. However, it is clear both from the sound recording and the impression of the veteran that the rude treatment was because of his views, not because he was a veteran, . Also, as detailed in articles in the Weekly Standard and Huffington Post, various measures of student sentiment such as editorials in college newspapers and surveys of opinion have shown a strong shift in favor of ROTC since the repeal of DADT. In particular, on 21 February 2011 Columbia's student newspaper urged students to vote in favor of ROTC in the survey being conducted of students, and among students who voted and expressed an opinion about "return of ROTC to Columbia’s campuses", 65% voted in favor.
A coalition of 4 veterans organizations at Columbia issued a statement on this issue, noting:
... the disrespectful conduct of a few individuals in no way reflects the consensus attitude of Columbia students and faculty toward 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 this 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 part.
The veteran who was hissed and booed issued the following statement:
Comments by a small number of individuals at the town hall meeting have not changed my positive experiences at Columbia ... Thus far, my fellow students have been very interested in hearing about my past life and military experiences. Columbia has been attempting to get more veterans to share their experiences here, and the atmosphere here has been supportive despite the actions of a very small minority of the town hall participants.
Members of the newly formed "Coalition Against ROTC" at Columbia complained that "the administration is biased in favour of ROTC" and that "the debates on campus have revealed, something ... profoundly sad, which is the lack of space for any criticism of the military".