Subject: Re: Concerns about ROTC
Date: Monday, May 02, 2005 5:40 PM
From: Eric Chen
To: M Foss; Scott Stewart
Cc: Sean Wilkes; Michael Segal; Prof. Allan Silver

Michael,

Certainly, you are correct that the case for ROTC at Columbia doesn't rest solely on our potential to aid reform of DADT. That is just one benefit among a group of benefits that will come from restoring ROTC on Columbia's campus.

You are pointing to the law firm - military comparison, correct? If you forward the Salient Points, that's fine. We've already distributed it to faculty, senators and administrators. If you forward it, I only ask that you forward the entire document.

As a careful reading of Salient Points would show, the point is not to say that homosexuality is a disability; rather, it is to set the context that military personnel policies are fundamentally different than civilian employer personnel policies, for legitimate reasons.

It is not a judgment about homosexuality - or asthma and gender, for that matter. It is a general point which allows hitherto ignorant readers to begin to understand and engage the DADT issue. From there, we can work toward actual solutions, rather than remain mired in a counter-productive status quo.

In order to effect change of DADT, one must first understand the intended nature and purpose of the military's personnel policies. Once that is achieved, the question then becomes, given the intended nature and purpose, is specifically DADT a fair personnel policy under that criteria? Like Scott, I served in the Army. Personally, I don't think DADT is a fair policy taken under that standard - whereas similar military personnel policies restricting physical disability or that, to an extent, limit gender-neutral practice, ARE fair.

Once we reach this advanced point of consideration, we can identify ways, from Columbia, we can engage this issue in a realistic manner that allows productive contribution to reform of the specific policy as well as to the wider social good.

If the ROTC proposal is defeated, then we're back to where we started or even worse, which is not a good place for those of us actually seeking change instead of perpetuating a harmful status quo.

Segregation is a poor way to normalize values, Mike.  It is, however, a great way to widen gaps in our society. Integration and engagement across institutions, and investment of our graduates, are the realistic and traditional ways for Columbia to close the civil-military gap and make a difference in the military, as Columbia has done with our other relations in larger society, as Columbia once did in the military before 1969. Is anything at Columbia an instant magical solution? No, but as in the other parts of society to which Columbia contributes, real incremental change and movement forward can be built upon, and is far better than adding to the problem or doing nothing at all.


Eric