In 1969, Columbia U. student protesters said they didn't like having the ROTC on campus. Anti-war professors agreed, and so out went the ROTC.
When the Vietnam war ended in 1975, Columbia remained true to its ideals, and kept the military organization away from its hallowed halls of ivy. Columbia maintains this staunch stand, to this day, defending students from contact with an American military presence.
In Columbia's defense, it must be pointed out that a major reason for the university's abhorrence of the ROTC is the U.S. military's 'don't ask/don't tell' policy regarding homosexuality.
In addition to keeping their ivy league campus ROTC-free, and in a display of openness to diverse ideas, this Monday Columbia will welcome Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian leader will address Columbian students, as part of the school's World Leaders Forum. There's a Q & A session scheduled. Columbia President Le Bollinger, said that questions on Israel and Holocaust had been approved.
That's quite a concession, considering Ahmadinejad opinions that Israel and the Holocaust shouldn't, and didn't, exist, respectively.
The Columbian president was quoted on WNBC, saying that Ahmandinejad's appearance was part of "Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate."
I'd find the 'debate' claim a little more convincing, if Columbia U. didn't have such a groovy attitude toward America's ROTC.
I doubt that any of Columbia's students would have the temerity to exhibit insufficient respect to a man of President Ahmadinejad's stature. If such a thing happened, however, I would hope that Colubmia University would show the same restraint and compassion it showed to the students whose "heckling descended into yelling, screaming, kicking and punching, culminating in the rushing of the stage and Gilchrist being shuttled off by security." The students yelling "He has no right to speak!" were reacting to the presence of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group.
Considering President Ahmandinejad's views, however, regarding
- His defense of Iran's nuclear program
- His government's track record for human rights violations, and
- Iran's imprisonment of journalists and scholars, including one of Columbia's very own alumni, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh
Disgusting, but it's an ivy league school. We should make allowances.
Sources for this post:
Advocates for Columbia ROTC
" Columbia University: Ahmadinejad Yes, ROTC No," on Yahoo! News
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