The Reserve Officer Training Corps provides military training and academic scholarships to highly qualified students at civilian universities in exchange for a commitment to serve their country after graduation. During the
pot-fogged heady days of the Vietnam War, Columbia other more refined schools of higher learning kicked ROTC to the curb, ostensibly because of all the baby killing that was in it. After the draft was eliminated the passions of the moment cooled, continued resistance to ROTC centered around the services’ “discriminatory” polices, as evidenced by the recently repealed “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” law, which prevented servicemen from talking openly about where they stick their fiddly bits their sexuality.
On Friday, DADT resting on the dustbin of history, Columbia’s president grandly announced that ROTC was once again welcome on campus.
“It is clear that the time has come for Columbia to reengage with the military program of ROTC, subject to certain conditions and with ongoing review,” Columbia President Lee Bollinger wrote in an email to students and faculty Friday. He said the university won’t recognize ROTC until the military’s ban on gays’ serving openly ends.
Columbia’s decision won’t bring back a full-fledged naval training program like the one that flourished on campus before the Vietnam War. Would-be naval officers will travel to the ROTC program at the State University of New York’s Maritime College in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. Nine Columbia students already participate in a similar arrangement with an ROTC program run out of Fordham University.
So, “subject to certain conditions and with ongoing review,” patriot scholars will be free to attend courses at Columbia in much the same way as they had before.