Saturday, January 22, 2005

Request for Help from Advocates for Columbia ROTC

PREFACE: I sent this request as an e-mail to a group of milbloggers I read regularly, and I posted it over at The fact that I didn't think to post it on my own weblog until now shows how much faith I have that anyone is actually reading this thing. Ah well. I'm not posting here just to show off. If you'd like to help, send me or Sean an e-mail. Enjoy.


My name is Eric **** (* and I am a spokesman for Advocates for Columbia ROTC, a group of alumni, faculty and students working for the return of ROTC to Columbia University in New York City. Sean Wilkes (*, an Army ROTC cadet by way of Fordham University, is the ACR Chair. I'm e-mailing you with this request because I read your blog regularly, if not daily. I like what you have to say and how you say it.

I would like your help to develop an accurate Identity context for the modern American military leader.

ACR website:
Other schools and national:

Today, the future of ROTC at Columbia has reached the University Senate, Columbia University's decision-making body, and is under deliberation by a specially appointed Senate Task Force. As you can see on our website, we have inputted program-centered, cadet-centered and alumni-centered arguments. However, we lack sufficient arguments explaining the Greater Good of producing officers and fleshing out an accurate Identity of the military itself, specifically (but not limited to) military leaders, and more specifically (but not limited to), ROTC-produced officers. We need better answers to the questions, what is the modern American military leader, what do they do, and what is the Greater Good for training/educating those leaders through ROTC?

My goal is to instill in the University Senate and Task Force members a real, accurate picture and intimate sense of who and what the military officer IS in tangible human terms, and why it matters that ROTC is part of Columbia as an academic and leadership institution. I'm hoping you can help us provide that picture through your special experiences and unique perspective. I hope to gather different perspectives, in the sense of taking photos of a thing from different angles, under different lighting, to build up enough for an accurate 3-D picture of the modern American ilitary leader.

Form. Word doc. Either direct letters or essays that I'll compile later. We haven't decided which form to use or if we'll use both forms to present to the University Senate. Use whatever written form is most comfortable (but keep it in prose, please).

Questions to consider as you write. Focus on these specifics: Based on your experience and perspective, what are American military leaders actually doing in the real world? What are their responsibilities and roles? What are their purposes? What effect do they as individuals have on people, Americans and non-Americans, soldiers and civilians, local and foreign communities, etc? Why are they important? What do you feel the American people, especially academics and college students, should know about our military and its leaders when considering the future and role of ROTC on campus? Incorporate these broad ideas: What has been the human or social cost of the ivy league exclusions of ROTC? What Greater Goods do you associate with Columbia-educated military officers and a return of ROTC to Columbia?

We already have cadets talking about their experiences, so you can discuss your personal experience with ROTC, but you don't need to focus on it. Obviously, I hope you incorporate why you think ROTC should return to Columbia, but you don't need to focus on debating the entire case for ROTC. Don't settle for the typical broad patriotic or pro-military cliches, and don't speak as anyone you're not. Don't say anything you feel uncomfortable saying, even if that means not following the questions I posed - they're just suggestions to get you thinking in a certain direction. The folks who are now deliberating ROTC also grade doctorate theses for a living, so it won't help us to try to BS them. Again, write from YOUR experience and perspective. Discuss what you know is true. As English teachers like to say, show, don't just tell.

As students, it's not easy going against an entrenched status quo, but we're making progress. I hope you will help us on this project. If you know others who can help, I have no objection if you forward them this e-mail. Beyond this particular project, ACR can use all the support, networking and publicity we can get. Please, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, don't hesitate to contact us with them.

Thank you.


Eric ****
Spokesman, ACR

Sean Wilkes
Chairman, ACR

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