Columbia University students who participate in ROTC off-campus at Fordham University performed a flag ceremony in Low Plaza at Columbia on Veterans Day.
The university senate at Columbia recently gave permission for ROTC students to raise and lower the flag each week, after a 42-year ban on military activity on campus, according to the Columbia Spectator.
The future of an on-campus ROTC at Columbia is unclear.
Last month, after a federal court ruled that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is unconstitutional, the university had no comment on ROTC at the school, beyond a 2008 statement from university president Lee Bollinger.
In September, Bollinger told students that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell troubled him and many others with the university.
“Of course I value the military enormously, but I do not think that as part of our academic program we should have a program that discriminates against any of our students,” he said. He also said that the ROTC’s return will have to be re-evaluated if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is eliminated.
Four Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Brown — as well as a handful of other elite universities, like Stanford, do not currently have ROTC programs on campus. Largely Vietnam-era policies at the outset, in recent years, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has become the centerpiece of the universities’ opposition to on-campus ROTC programs because it conflicts with many anti-discrimination university policies.
Columbia has a dozen ROTC participants currently, who take courses through the regional program at Fordham University, as well as roughly 350 student veterans. In September, a group of 20 professors took out an ad in the Columbia Spectator advocating for ROTC’s return.
“It is by no means clear that the military services want to return,” said Allan Silver in September, a professor emeritus of sociology at Columbia . Silver was one of the professors who signed the petition to bring ROTC back.
“They have budgetary problems, especially with the high cost of ROTC fellowships at Ivy institutions,” he said. “Some in the services nurse grudges from the Vietnam period and are culturally more comfortable elsewhere.”