Saturday, April 02, 2011

Victory

On Friday 01 April 2011, the Columbia University Senate passed a resolution with a vote of 51-17 that military relations "enrich the Columbia community" and . . .
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED

That Columbia University welcomes the opportunity to explore mutually beneficial relationships with the Armed Forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.
The Columbia Spectator has solid reporting of the senate vote while the New York Times provides the cultural-historical context. The Columbia Political Union wonders what the ROTC decision means for Columbia's identity.

Friday's victory is not the end of the Columbia ROTC movement. Rather, it is the commencement of the next stage, university-military negotiation. President Bollinger will first consult Columbia's deans, most of whom are already on record supporting ROTC, the senate executive committee, and other relevant Columbia officials (likely to include Columbia's legal counsel, given the contractual nature). Then he will meet with the Trustees, who are believed to support ROTC and rarely veto senate resolutions regardless, for their approval of the senate resolution. Once the Trustees give their approval, which is expected to happen by the end of the semester, Bollinger and his team will be authorized to negotiate with their military counterparts.

I say again with relish, A Vote for ROTC is a Vote for the Heroes of our Generation, while Columbia U. Senate Votes Against Return of R.O.T.C. slips into the dustbin of history.

The victory is personal for me and a long time in coming. I organized the Columbia ROTC movement's inaugural event 9 years ago. It's my baby. By now it has many strong fathers whom I trust love it as much as I do, but it will ever only have one mother: me. I envisioned, then conceived it. I gave birth to it. In the desert of the first days, I nurtured and protected it. I fed it what it needed to grow - I gave it of myself and of others. I fought for its life when, if I had chosen not to, it would have died. Then the 2005 senate vote nearly killed it, and I fought for its life again. Before I graduated, I made sure to give it what it needed to become stronger than it was. I won that fight. This explains only why the cause is personal for me. In terms of credit, as I said, the Columbia ROTC movement has many fathers, and many of my fellow advocates have given the movement important and necessary things that I couldn't. I've been known to be inappropriately overbearing with my fellow advocates at times; the reason is that the movement is still imprinted in my mind as a fragile vulnerable baby - my baby - in the desert.

Eric

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