Military Recruiting at Columbia's Activities Day  by Mark Xue, CC 06

Acitivites Day 2006 LOW PLAZA, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY – On the afternoon of Friday, September 8, 2006, Hamilton Society, the Columbia student group for ROTC cadets and Marine officer candidates, participated in the annual university-wide Activities Day Fair with recruiting literature for the local USMC PLC and Army ROTC programs. From noon, the table was manned by 2005-06 President Mark Xue, Army ROTC cadets Stefan Hasselblad and 2006-07 President Riaz Zaidi, in uniform, Marine officer candidates Joe O'Conor and Phil Chan, wearing Marine t-shirts, and former Army ROTC cadet Sarah Clarke in civilian attire. Hamilton Society is a member organization of the Student Governing Board (SGB) of Columbia University, and their table was located on Low Plaza with the other SGB groups. The table was decorated with a military-style poncho. The recruiting literature included a mix of Hamilton Society produced material and material from the ROTC and PLC programs. There were also advertisements for the October 11th AWOL authors’ panel and Columbia ROTC advocacy publications such as the Wounded Lion. There was no Air Force ROTC representation in person or via materials. Members of MilVets, the Columbia student group for veterans, stopped by to lend support throughout the day. The MilVets table, which was initially located on College Walk, was eventually relocated next to the Hamilton Society table later in the afternoon.

Until 2 pm, the Hamilton Society table received modest attention with approximately 15 to 20 students stopping by the booth. Half were interested in the officer training programs and the other half expressed support. Two to three people expressed anti-military or anti-war opinions but were intrigued by the notion of academic engagement of the military as a method of moderating the military. The Hamilton Society talking points focused on "presenting military opportunities" and "advocating a stronger academic-military tie". During this time, a member of the university administration asked for the identity of the club and whether the Hamilton Society representatives were students, but did not press the issue further.

At approximately 2 pm, three to four members of the Spartacus Youth Club (SYC) came over and began marching, waving signs and chanting in front of the Hamilton Society table. The SYC members made no attempt to directly converse with the Hamilton Society representatives. Stefan Hasselblad, Riaz Zaidi, Sarah Clarke, Eric Chen, and Mark Xue were present. By this time, the MilVets table was next to the Hamilton Society table but the SYC focused on Hamilton Society, most likely due to the cadets’ uniforms. The protest activity lasted for approximately 20 minutes before petering out. Ironically, the protest helped draw supporters to the Hamilton Society table. Approximately 20 to 30 people came by to express their support, some of whom showed interest in the advertised events. The Activities Day Fair ended around 3 pm. In total, approximately 50 to 60 students approached the Hamilton Society table during the course of the day. Hamilton Society signed up 15 new members.

There were no problems from the university administration before, during, or after the event, and the DADT controversy was not raised as an issue.

Notes: Mark Xue, President Emeritus (2005-06) of the Hamilton Society, is a Marine officer candidate and is currently attending Officer Candidates School at Quantico, Virginia. Account edited by Eric Chen.
Acitivites Day 2006
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