Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Veteran jeering at Columbia: A few observations from another vet now there

          Here are some comments from Andrew Watkins, who served with the 75th Rangers in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a student at Columbia. By Andrew Watkins Best Defense Ivy League affairs bureau The fact is, not only has the Dean of Columbia College spoken in favor of reinstating ROTC ...

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some comments from Andrew Watkins, who served with the 75th Rangers in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now a student at Columbia.

By Andrew Watkins
Best Defense Ivy League affairs bureau

The fact is, not only has the Dean of Columbia College spoken in favor of reinstating ROTC (in addition to 34 outspoken professors), but the debate itself is a barometer of institutional support. Columbia was the first Ivy League school to sign up for the Post 9/11 GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program, and has received stellar reviews from its veteran community. Given the growing media spotlight, I would ask your readers to consider Columbia’s lead in accepting and even recruiting those with military experience, alongside what you’ve rightly labeled as “fringe” commentary.

This argument should certainly take place, in privileged universities nationwide. Academics (and their students) who see the military as an inherently bad institution should be engaged, but without furor or frenzy — just as Anthony Maschek did.

That’s because engagement is the only way to effect change. It’s why diversity is promoted. It’s why the academy exists: to facilitate engagement with truly different ideas. Anthony is certainly a better person, not only for his service, but from exposure to his ideological opposite.

This country’s educational elite could learn from his example. Their valid concerns and critiques have a much better chance of making a real impact if they reach the minds of today’s cadets. Today’s cadets, after all, are tomorrow’s policymakers.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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