Forum: Should ROTC Return to Columbia?

Elizabeth Burke CC '04, Air Force ROTC cadet

LERNER HALL, MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS CAMPUS, 28 April 2002 --  Groups advocating return of ROTC to the campus of Columbia University made the case for supporting ROTC on campus.  The meeting was organized by Columbia Alumni for a Strong America and Students United for Victory.  There was  additional sponsorship by the Columbia College Conservative Club, the Columbia College Republicans and the Columbia Political Union.  
    Alfred Zaragoza GS '04 discussed the history of ROTC at Columbia and the rationale for its return.  Dr. Michael Segal MD '83 PhD '82 of Advocates for Harvard ROTC discussed how groups at Harvard are working within existing rules to create a premier ROTC experience with joint Harvard - ROTC credit for courses taught by existing university faculty and military faculty, visiting speakers, mentorship from Harvard's National Security Fellows, increased scholarships and strong support from President Summers.  ROTC cadets, including Elizabeth Burke CC '03 and Jarrod Stuard CC '05, described their activities and plans and answered questions about the ROTC experience for Columbia students.  Philip Bergovoy '50 spoke on behalf of Columbia Alumni for a Strong America and made the case for return to patriotic values.  LTC John T. Dooley, Professor of Military Science, New York City Army ROTC (including Columbia, NYU, Fordham and other NYC programs) was in the audience and provided the perspective of the military faculty.  He also made it clear that funds are available for Army and Air Force ROTC cadets at Columbia.  Adam Weinstein summed up at the end.
    There was considerable discussion about the nature of the ROTC experience on campus and the extra demands of the ROTC curriculum.  Polite protesters distributed a flyer suggesting that the military was not needed since none of the attacks on the US since the War of 1812 were made by conventional military forces attacking a state (as opposed to a territory such as Hawaii in the 1940s).  The protests also criticized limitations on personal freedoms such as the law banning homosexual activity within the military.  Panelists responded by citing the importance of defeating foes such as the Taliban, whose penalty for homosexuality was burying the individual alive.  No views of the World Trade Center area were visible from the north-facing hall. 
    The program handed out for the meeting is at this link.

(click photos for more detail)

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Philip Bergovoy '50,  Columbia Alumni for a Strong America