News | Student Life

After 43 years, Navy meets with students about CU ROTC

For the first time in over 43 years, representatives of the Navy came to campus on Tuesday to meet with undergraduates interested in joining a Columbia Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, which was restored last semester following an absence that dates back to the Vietnam War.

Last week, Interim Provost John Coatsworth said in an email to undergraduates that he was “pleased to announce that the program at SUNY Maritime is ready to accept Columbia undergraduate students from the College, SEAS and General Studies as early as the upcoming 2012 spring term.”

Jose Robledo, a University Senator and military veteran, said that the Navy’s information session on Tuesday showed that “the University is keeping its promises to bridge its divide with the military.”
“It’s the first time that the University community has had the opportunity to talk to SUNY Maritime and see what they have to offer the community,” Robledo said. “That’s amazing.”

Last spring, University President Lee Bollinger signed an agreement with the Secretary of the Navy that would allow students to participate in the NROTC program at SUNY Maritime in the Bronx.

The agreement came after the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which barred openly gay people from serving in the military, and a semester of heated debate on campus.

Although only a handful of students stopped by the information session to speak with Naval representatives, Ryan Cho, CC ’13 and an Army ROTC cadet at Fordham, said that the information session “was much more publicized than usual.”

Robledo said that upcoming finals could have prevented some students from attending.

“This is the last week of classes,” he said. “How many people are going to take the time out of their day to go to an information session?”

Cho noted that while the School of General Studies has a flourishing relationship with veterans, Columbia could still improve its relationship with the military.

“Columbia will always have the opportunity to produce officers in the military,” he said. “We’ve always welcomed veterans with open arms and will be fostering relations even further to allow NROTC to recruit on our campus.”

Barry Weinberg, CC ’12 and co-president of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, said he thought the information session was a minor event and should not have warranted an email to students from the provost.

“What is unfortunate is that it awards credits that not all students are eligible to earn,” Weinberg said, in reference to the fact that transgender students face are still barred from serving in the military. “They shouldn’t award academic credit, which is under the discretion of the faculty.”

The provost’s office has formed an advisory committee to help discuss how to keep the NROTC program consistent with Columbia’s academic standards and nondiscrimination policy.

Captain Matt Loughlin, one of the Naval representatives who hosted the information session for students, said he hoped that the program would raise interest among Columbia students.

“I think that the program is sure to grow with students who are interested in joining the military, especially now that Columbia will be an option for their education,” Loughlin said. “We’ve already had some students accepted for next year.”

Although the turnout was limited, Loughlin remained positive about the future of the program.

“If we get one great candidate, we call that a successful day,” he said.

news@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

NROTC doesn't grant Columbia University credit or SUNY Maritime credit or any fungible credit whatsoever.  You get credit by the program for the program to gauge your progress. 

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Anonymous posted on

Yep, re Weinberg's concern, ROTC course credits don't apply to a Columbia degree so ROTC students gain no extra benefit in that regard. However, Columbia may eventually develop Columbia courses offered on campus that can be applied to ROTC course credit and qualify for academic credit. I imagine those courses would be open to the general student body. Also, if/when ROTC offers courses on the Columbia campus that also qualify for academic credit, I imagine those ROTC courses would also be open to the general student body.

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Anonymous posted on

Weinberg is just bitter because 1) he lost the battle against ROTC, and 2) he lost his bid to be CCSC President.

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Anonymous posted on

and 3) no one every told him it's too fucking cold to be wearing sandals.

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Anonymous posted on

They couldn't have sent a better person to talk to the students, Andrea Benvenuto is a great Officer.  I'm so proud of her and how much she's grown in the Navy.  LCDR C. Doering 

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Anonymous posted on

If all you are worried about is whether or not NROTC classes will earn you university credits, I think you're missing the point of the program. Yes, Andrea Benvenuto is an awesome person, and a great spokeswoman for the program.

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Anonymous posted on

It's not that. Haters like Barry Weinberg aim to undermine NROTC at Columbia and it's SOP for them to spread misinformation. Someone has to clean up after them. 

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Anonymous posted on

As an aside, Air Force ROTC at Manhattan College offers academic credit for the academic classes only (not the leadership labs, fitness, training), and they are open to any student, regardless of intent to join the military.  Whether Columbia or other "crosstown" schools choose to accept the credits from Manhattan College for their students is up to the individual colleges/universities.  This is a non-issue.

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