Liveblog: University Senate discusses ROTC

The University Senate's monthly full-body meeting will be starting any time. During this meeting, the Task Force on Military Engagement will present its findings on campus opinions of ROTC, and the USenate will begin to debate the issue.

Check for the liveblog after the jump.

2:21: That's all there is. Check News later for a full story on the meeting and the task force's report, including more detailed analysis of the survey.

2:19: Bollinger thinks that's enough debate for today, even though some senators want to keep discussing ROTC. Mathewson reminds the senators that Professor Richard Betts is holding a discussion panel for faculty on Tuesday, and USenate Executive Committee Chair Sharyn O'Halloran says there will be more faculty discussions.

2:17: Jose Robledo, GS and a military veteran, says that how ROTC would be implemented is not the concern of this discussion. But he acknowledges that ROTC cadets have been "strongly recommended" not to refer to WikiLeaks materials, as it might hurt their chances of getting a security clearance later on.

2:15: Professor Helene Aguilar, addressing concerns about how exactly an ROTC program would be implemented, says that she is "concerned that you may find it more difficult than one would think to establish these terms and limitations.”  For instance, she said, recent reports have indicated that ROTC cadets are not allowed to refer to info released by WikiLeaks, which is still considered classified. “That struck me as problematic, as the institution we are," Aguilar says.

2:13: In response to a question about the University Senate's role in making a decision on ROTC, Bollinger says that the senate is not the only body that's important here. He says that the council of deans, for instance, must be brought into the discussion as well.

2:10: Columbia MilVets president Brendan Rooney, GS, tries to speak, but Bollinger says that for a non-senator to speak, unanimous consent of the senate is needed. Some senators object, so Rooney is not allowed to speak.

2:08: Montas reminds the senators that “Sometimes people simply speak as if Columbia could just invite ROTC to Columbia and it would come," but that in reality the military would have to agree to start a program here first.

2:06: Business School senator Mark Cohen wants more information from the task force."I think it would be interesting for us to know by way of some form of fact sheet what the ROTC program actually was like at Columbia prior to 1969," including class and faculty structure, Cohen says.

2:05: Sorry for the delay---Internet connectivity problems in the meeting room. Senators have been raising concerns about the wording of questions on the survey, the composition of the task force, and how ROTC faculty would be hired by the University.

1:49: Mazor is explaining the nature of the task force's report. The behemoth of a document---it comes in at 228 pages---includes detailed results of the student survey, full transcripts of all three town hall meetings, every email the task force received on ROTC, and a history of ROTC at Columbia, among other things.

1:47: Montas ends by saying that the task force's only recommendation is that the Senate review this issue. “Whether or not this process leads to an ROTC program at Columbia, it is time for us to clarify where we stand on that issue after the repeal of 'don’t ask, don’t tell,'" Montas says.

1:45: Montas says that, “Many people believed that this survey was a vote. It was not—it was an opinion survey, whose results we presented to the Senate.” But he calls the result of the survey "unambiguous," noting that nearly two in three students polled were in favor of ROTC's return.

1:43: Mazor and Roosevelt Montas, associate dean at the Center for the Core Curriculum and the task force's other co-chair, are now presenting their findings.

1:42: Nineteen percent of students in the five schools participated in the survey. Participation was highest in Columbia College, at about 25 percent.

1:40: Getting close to ROTC discussion. In the USenate survey, majorities of respondents in CC, SEAS, GS, and SIPA supported an ROTC return, but Barnard students opposed it by a 47-42 margin.

1:34: The vote isn't close---by a 43-7 vote, senators allow the meeting to be filmed.

1:30: More senators raise concerns about the videotaping, and the matter is put to debate. Ron Mazor, CC '09, Law '12, and co-chair of the ROTC task force, says that “At this point, nothing that we want to have over here is worth hiding.”

1:28: A point of confusion to start the meeting---a GS student who says he is taking a documentary class is filming the meeting. A few senators raise concerns, but President Lee Bollinger says it will be allowed. “In general, print media is permitted to be in the senate, Columbia media is permitted, outside media is not permitted without permission. And other filming has been permitted with permission, and [University Senate Manager] Tom [Mathewson] has given permission," Bollinger says.

1:25: The task force released its full report a few hours ago, including the results of its survey of Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Barnard College, the School of General Studies, and the School of International and Public Affairs. Sixty percent of students who filled out the survey support a return of ROTC to Columbia's campus, with 33 percent opposed (7 percent had no opinion).

1:19: The meeting is underway. ROTC discussion is the fifth item on the agenda, so stayed tuned for updates in a few minutes.


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Mike posted on

Richard Bett$ is a military consultant. Conflict of interest fail.

Re Wikileaks and ROTC posted on

Issue: ROTC students are told not to access the WikiLeaks site

Facts: ROTC students are not prohibited from reading accounts of WikiLeaks information, and are not even prohibited from accessing the WikiLeaks web site, but they are discouraged from accessing the WikiLeaks site since it might make it more difficult to get security clearance.

More here: