Columbia University Scratches ROTC program

Columbia University, part of the east coast Ivy League and ensconced in the heart of New York City believes, as a university of this stature would, in diversity and openness. 

And choice.  And freedom of speech.  Under this expansive philosophy  Columbia welcomed  the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak several times.  Oh sure, some narrow minded people were upset that he advocates the elimination of Israel, denies the Holocaust, which killed 6 million Jews ever happened and hates the US. But freedom of speech and diversity trump all. 

Well, not quite.

Violating the holiness of political correctness is not condoned. Some people actually booed Ahmadinejad when he claimed Iran has no homosexuals.    And violating the holiness of political correctness is probably why, in spite of Columbia's professed devotion to diversity, ROTC (Reserve officers Training Corps) is not available there even though some students have requested it.   

According to Fox News:  

NEW YORK -  Columbia University students will vote this week on whether to bring the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps back to Columbia's New York City campus after a 40-year ban.

The Naval recruiting and training program, known as NROTC, offer scholarships in exchange for a commitment to serve. Currently, there are no NROTC cadets at Columbia University.

"There is no Naval ROTC option in Manhattan. The closest option is SUNY Maritime which is not accessible to Columbia students," said Austin Byrd, a junior at Columbia University and a United States Marine Corps officer candidate.

Columbia's ban includes ROTC for all military branches, but this week's vote determines the future of NROTC programs because Columbia students who are Air Force and Army cadets have access to programs at nearby universities.

Many fine universities have voluntary ROTC programs on campus, why not Columbia?  Along with many other colleges and universities, Columbia banned ROTC campus programs during the Viet Nam anti war, anti military protests of the late 60s.

That ban stood until 2005 when Columbia students voted to invite ROTC back. But the University Senate - an advisory group made up of faculty and students - upheld the ban, saying it would stay as long as the Department of Defense continued with its "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy barring homosexuals from openly serving in the military.

Senators, it was reported at the time, felt this policy was inconsistent with the universities' non-discrimination code.

So Ahmadinejad's hate filled talks are "consistent with the universities' non discrimination code" and thus he is invited several times to speak at Columbia but ROTC is barred.  Only ivory tower university professors could justify this logic.  

Ironically both John McCain and Barack Obama agree that ROTC should be an option at Columbia. 

During the presidential race the issue was brought to the forefront when both John McCain and Barack Obama, while visiting the campus, re-sparked the debate by questioning the ban:

"Shouldn't the students here be exposed to the attractiveness of serving in the military, particularly as an officer?" said McCain.

"I recognize that there are students here who have differences in terms of military policy, but the notion that young people here at Columbia or anywhere, in any university, aren't offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake," said Obama.

John McCain attended the US Naval Academy.  Obama received his undergraduate degree from Columbia.  He did not participate in ROTC.  But at least he felt other students should have had the option.