Update: The Columbia Anti-ROTC coalition is concerned that any discussion against ROTC will be labeled as un-patriotic or rude and want safe spaces to discuss their anti-ROTC views.
At a panel discussion hosted by the newly formed coalition, professors and students laid out their arguments against ROTC’s return, in light of recent media coverage that they felt inaccurately portrayed them as rude and unpatriotic.
The exclusively anti-ROTC environment was necessary, coalition member Feride Eralp said, because the town halls “do not provide a safe space” to discuss ROTC’s return.
“We feel that the administration is biased in favour of ROTC, and that we cannot discuss our opinions without being portrayed as being unpatriotic or harassing veterans,” Eralp, CC ’14, said.
Really? Does that include yelling "Racist!" at a vet who has done no actions nor spoken any words that could be labeled "racist"? How about having a real discussion for once?
Update: Vet and Columbia student, Anthony Maschek responds to the media and those of us appalled at the Columbia students treatment of him. He supports (rightly so) his university.
Why hasn't the University condemned the behavior? Is that too difficult a task for President Bollinger to do? General Eisenhower must be rolling over right about now...
Update: Another excellent letter from a Marine Officer who recently graduated from Columbia. It should be noted that this letter represents the opinion of Austin Byrd, not the USMC, nor the DoD or Federal Government...
Good Morning President Bollinger,
While I expect your inbox has been flooded with responses to the most recent iteration of the controversy surrounding Columbia's relationship with the military, I could not help but add my own to the pile. I graduated from Columbia in December of 2009 with a degree in Art History and commissioned as a 2ndLt in the Marine Corps on 23 January 2010 at Alfred Lerner Hall on our campus. I have been critical of the University in the past and continue to be so in regards to its relationship with the military, but I have a great respect and fondness for it as well.
Many of the current attacks on the Columbia community quite fairly hit the mark on the hypocrisy regarding Columbia's current refusal to allow the presence of an ROTC program on campus. It is indefensible to argue that Columbia need not help to shoulder the burden of our nation's defense by offering its support to filling out the ranks of the military's officer corps. In refusing to allow ROTC on our campus we are tarnishing Columbia's long and distinguished record of service and undermining the University's deserved reputation as an institution worthy of great respect. While there are legitimate concerns surrounding the return of ROTC to Columbia, whether they be philosophical or logistical, none outweigh the importance of continuing Columbia's tradition of public service and excellence.
To be fair, where many of these attacks entirely miss the mark is where they paint Columbia as a homogeneous place in which the military is summarily mocked and dismissed. I did not find that to be the case. Indeed, while I often encountered a level of ignorance in regards to the idea of military service that was utterly baffling and disappointing given the school's role as a preeminent center of learning, I also found there to be great support throughout the student body and the administration. Chaplain Davis was a regular and strong supporter of military efforts on behalf of future officers and veterans alike while I was a student, and the same was true of many of my professors, such as Douglas Chalmers and Kenneth Jackson. Chaplain Davis and some of my professors were kind enough to attend my commissioning ceremony on campus a little over a year ago, an act which I greatly appreciated. In addition, I found Dean Moody-Adams to be amenable and supportive in the short period that I dealt with her during my final semester.
With that, let us remake Columbia's image with the realities of people like Chaplain Davis and the numerous professors whom I counted as supporters of my decision to serve in the Marines. The realities of the Columbia community are more rich, complex, and robust than the current public debate would indicate, and the return of ROTC would serve to highlight our best rather than herald the embarrassment of our very worst.
Respectfully and, more importantly, Semper Fidelis,
Austin Q. Byrd
United States Marine Corps
I've been copied on some correspondence to the President of Columbia University. This one is from A FOURTH GENERATION COLUMBIA FAMILY:
I have written to you on other occasions regarding this same topic: the disdainful treatment of our Military on the Columbia Campus. The latest outrage of your students heckling SSG Anthony Maschek, an American hero, especially without consequence or denunciation from your administration, is absolutely disgraceful and beyond the pale.
I might also point out the utter hypocrisy of your administration's continued refusal to allow ROTC back on campus even after Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed. Clearly your denial of freedom of speech and association to the Military, and to those who bravely seek to serve our nation while also attending your university, is simply a matter of anti-Military discrimination rather than any sort of principled stand regarding gay rights, as you have disingenuously asserted for so long..
My grandfather received his BA and MD from Columbia. My father received his MD there. My mother received two masters degrees from Columbia. I received my BA and JD; my husband his JD and my daughter her MSW. Even with a rich Columbia history such as this, I am now mortified to be associated with this university.
I can assure you that your school will never hear from me or anyone in this family again---certainly as far as donations are concerned.
Carolyn Aufses Blashek
Barnard '76; CLS '79
Sir, I am writing regarding Colombia's treatment of our military's wounded on your campus. Specifically, Anthony Maschek, an American hero. This is absolutely disgraceful. You need to denounce such behavior for it is because of wounded veterans your students have free speech but this is certainly lost on the Columbia student body and administration.
My uncle a WWII veteran (now deceased) received his masters from Columbia. Your students and administration dishonor him.
Keep them coming.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower served as Columbia University's President from 1948 to 1953. I wonder what he would think of President Bollinger today...
Update: The Stars & Stripes has the reaction from Veteran organizations.