Sunday, December 31, 2006


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

U.S. Army Lieutenant Josh Arthur, Columbia Class of 2004

Josh Arthur CC04 Columbia banner Baghdad 1 Josh Arthur CC04 Columbia banner Baghdad 2 Josh Arthur CC04 Columbia banner Baghdad 3
19DEC06, Baghdad, Iraq. Pictured is Army Lieutenant Josh Arthur, who is a Columbia College Class of 2004 graduate. Josh's Columbia 'good luck' banner is signed by Columbia students (milvets, ROTC cadets and Marine officer candidates), professors, alumni, and university officials. He currently is serving as an infantry platoon leader in Iraq, where these photos were taken.

Read Josh's e-mails from Kuwait and Iraq:
07NOV06, 13NOV06, 25NOV06, 27NOV06, 19DEC06, 02MAR07, 26AUG07, 27NOV07, 09JAN08.

Update: January 18, 2007 Columbia Spectator print magazine The Eye:
Columbia's Warrior - CC'04 Grad Goes to Iraq (scroll down to page 5).

Update: January 15, 2007 Columbia Spectator on-line magazine The Eye:
Special Web-Only: Interview with Lt. Josh Arthur, CC ‘04. Copy at web.archive.org.

Update: Josh is featured in the January/February 2007 Columbia College Today and Spring 2007 Columbia Magazine (scroll down in both).

Update: In early January 2008, Josh returned home from his deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

U.S. Marines Lieutenant Mark Xue, Columbia Class of 2006

Mark Xue CC06 first salute with Dan Cross GS07 Mark Xue CC06 mother pinning on rankMark Xue CC06 commissioning ceremony opening remarks
Mark Xue CC06 with Columbia milvets and Alma MaterMark Xue CC06 commissioning oath with Professor Silver
Photos by Matt Mireles (http://www.mattmireles.com/).

OPENING REMARKS. Eric Chen, General Studies, 2005-06 MilVets Vice President:

Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to the commissioning ceremony for Columbia College Class of 2006 graduate and Marine Corps Lieutenant Mark Xue. My name is Eric Chen and I will be the Master of Ceremonies for today's event. I would like to give a special word of thanks to our sponsors: Luke Stalcup and the US Military Veterans of Columbia University, Cadet Riaz Zaidi and the Hamilton Society of Columbia University, and Captain Ted Graske, Class of 1959, and the alumni of the Columbia Alliance for ROTC.

Before we begin, I want to tell you how honored we are to present Mark to you today as Lieutenant Xue. Leading Marines as an officer, bearing direct responsibility for their lives and well-being, and by extension, the lives and well-being of their families - it is the highest of responsibilities. It is a sacred responsibility. And it is a responsibility I value deeply as a former enlisted Soldier. As a classmate, I can tell you Mark is worthy of the path he has chosen, and I have no doubt he will lead his Marines well and bring honor upon himself, his family, this university and our beloved nation.

LOW PLAZA, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - On Saturday, December 16th, 2006, Columbia College 2006 graduate and Hamilton Society president emeritus Mark Xue, CC 06, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in a ceremony held on Low Plaza. The event was organized by US Military Veterans of Columbia University (MilVets) President Luke Stalcup and Hamilton Society President Riaz Zaidi. MilVets vice president emeritus Eric Chen served as the master of ceremonies. Other Columbia students and alumni who participated in the ceremony included MilVets president emeritus Oscar Escano, Army MAJ Taylor Hwong, Marine Cpl Dan Cross, who rendered Lt Xue’s first salute, Marine Cpl Matt Sanchez, Hamilton Society Vice-President Stefan Hasselblad, and Army ROTC cadet Elizabeth Feldmeier. Columbia sociology professor Allan Silver administered Lt Xue's oath of office, and his parents pinned on his Second Lieutenant rank. The ceremony concluded with Lt Xue leading all attending in the Marines hymn. Spectators included University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis and Vice-Provost Roxie Smith. The commissioning ceremony was sponsored by the US Military Veterans of Columbia University, the Hamilton Society, and the Columbia Alliance for ROTC (CAR). The reception at Cafe Pertutti was hosted by CAR Chairman Ted Graske, CC 59.

Also see the event account for Columbia College Class of 2006 graduate, Air Force Lieutenant Robert Wray's commissioning ceremony held in the rotunda of Low library on May 19th, 2006.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

2005-06 MilVets Executive Summary

“The primary, overall mission of MilVets as we enter the 2005-2006 academic year is to generate influence by increasing our exposure.”
“The long-term goal for MilVets is to go national within four years.”

Stated April 2005 by President Oscar Escano

“If a student thinks Jewish issues, he thinks Hillel; if he thinks military issues, he ought to think MilVets.”
Stated April 2005 by Vice President Eric Chen

2005-06 Executive Goals:
Increase the public stock (value). Raise the public profile. Develop philosophy, culture and community. Identify and prepare future leaders. Recruit and expand membership. Professionalize administrative structure and practices. Develop the website. Create a logo. Acquire a group banner. Acquire Category I funding from ABC. Network with veterans organizations. Network with Columbia military alumni. Network with student-veteran groups.

Spring-Summer 2005 Achievements:
Constitution revision.
E-Board election. President Oscar Escano and VP Eric Chen elected.
Summer preparation. "About Us" statement, philosophy, goals and plans developed.

Fall 2005 Achievements:
Website renovation. Gallery, sign-up, Columbia military history, updates and other functions added.
Tables at General Studies Orientation and Columbia Activities Day.
MilVets PT.
Reception for United States Forces Korea Commander GEN Leon LaPorte.
Through the Eyes of a Soldier III: Basic Training.

Spring 2006 Achievements:
Executive Council formed.
Logo created.
Banner acquired.
Response to Activities Day hate incident. Press release, delegation meeting with Provost Alan Brinkley, “military status” added as protected category to the university discrimination policy.
Through the Eyes of a Soldier IV: Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
University Chaplain (Jewelnel Davis) prayer for service-members and veterans with military-style flag-folding ceremony in Saint Paul’s Chapel.
Post-graduate debriefing with MilVets alumni.
Hosted Michael Gordon, author of Cobra II, in SIPA.
Operation Iraqi Children school supply kits drive. Co-sponsored by the College Democrats, College Republicans, Students United for America, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Fellows and Hamilton Society (ROTC cadets group).
Constitution revision.
E-Board election. President Luke Stalcup and VP Peter Kim elected.
ROTC commissioning ceremony in Low Library.
Category I funding from Activities Board of Columbia approved.

Other Achievements:
Media coverage. Columbia Record, Columbia Spectator, Columbia Current, Fox and Friends, Fox News, New York Sun, Dateline NBC.
Weekly newsletter. MilVets News.
Movie nights. Gunner Palace, Team America: World Police, The Best Years of Our Lives, Aliens.
Social gatherings at Nacho Mama's and other locations.
Signed Columbia ‘good luck’ banners given to deployed milvets Seth Hillbrand and Paul Barnes.
Provided primary sources for military-related research projects in Journalism, School of the Arts and Anthropology.

MilVets achieved all the 2005-06 executive goals except formal networking with Columbia military alumni and other student-veteran groups. From the start of Fall 2005 until the end of Spring 2006, the official membership of MilVets grew from 28 to 86 members, not including alumni and non-affiliated supporters. The most important decisions of 2005-06 – each initiated by Oscar Escano - were to establish “go national” as the long-term goal, authorize the Executive Council, and respond to the Activities Day hate incident by requesting amendment of the university discrimination policy.

2005-06 MilVets Executive Board:
President Oscar Escano
Vice President Eric Chen
Activities Director Matt Sanchez (resigned)
Treasurer Scott Stewart (resigned)
Secretary Jim Davis (resigned)
Secretary Julian Petrin (replacement)
Webmaster Zhuo Zheng

2005-06 Executive Council:
Mike Nicholas
Luke Stalcup
Todd Murphy
Mike Podberesky

On-line References:
Main website: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/usmilvetscu/
Reference library: http://www.milvetslibrary.blogspot.com/
Gallery: http://community.webshots.com/user/milvets
Information dump: http://www.milvets.blogspot.com/

Written by Eric Chen, 2005-06 Vice President, U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University, 05JUL06.
Approved by Oscar Escano, 2005-06 President, U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University, 06JUL06.

Point of Contact: Eric Chen (elc2003 at columbia.edu).

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Thank-you letters from Operation Iraqi Children and People To People International, June 2006

The description of MilVets' Spring 2006 school supply kits drive from the Operation Iraqi Children website (scroll down or search for "OIC Collection at Columbia University"):
Eric Chen, Vice-President of the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University, wanted to bring Operation Iraqi Children to campus. He began planning an OIC collection at the end of 2005. MilVets, Columbia's student-veteran organization, with the Hamilton Society, Columbia University College Republicans, Columbia University College Democrats, Students United for America and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy Fellows, agreed to sponsor the project which was carried out during the Spring semester. Posters and collection boxes were put up around campus and the donated supplies were boxed and sent to the OIC Warehouse on May 13, 2006.

Pictured are Columbia students who helped with the project including MilVets President Oscar Escano, a former Army Ranger who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, 2006-2007 MilVets President Luke Stalcup, a former Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and MilVets councilmember Todd Murphy, a former Marine who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The thank-you letters to MilVets from Operation Iraqi Children and People To People International (click to enlarge):

* A note from the project organizer.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

MilVets Logo and Symbolism

Original MilVets logo

Develop a visual logo that is unique to MilVets, and represents a diverse membership and the values set forward in the MilVets About Us statement. The logo must have a simple reproducible design and must not imply DoD affiliation.

Primary meaning:
The Olive Wreath symbolizes our greater purpose of Peace and the corporeal ring symbolizes our life transition to ‘Civilization’. The Spearhead symbolizes our military background. The scarring on the Spearhead symbolizes the war experience in the group.

Secondary meaning:
Olive Wreath - Columbia affiliation: It is the same olive wreath as in the inscription beneath the American flag on Low Plaza, donated by the Grand Army of the Republic (see here and here for background). An olive wreath is also below the Columbia flag on Low Plaza. Therefore, it symbolizes Columbia and Columbia military heritage, and to an extent, our American affiliation. An olive wreath can also symbolize nobility.

Love Cherish Defend It at base of American flag Low Plaza Columbia University
Spearhead – Warrior Ethos: Our military is commonly referred to as the "tip of the spear", which is appropriate. At the same time, the spearhead is not a branch nor even U.S. Military specific symbol - it is an ancient symbol of the Warrior Ethos. MilVets is less about defining ourselves by the uniforms we wore or still wear. Our group is more about the common experiences we each internalize in our own way and the values we choose to carry forward from our military histories.

The Spearhead points up for eternal vigilance. Its placement at the center of the Olive Wreath symbolizes the living spirit of the nation’s warrior-defenders in the heart of MilVets.

Clean, simple, good balance and symmetry, unmistakable up-down orientation, mostly closed and self-contained design. The primary meaning, if not the secondary meanings, should be obvious. The design should be easily reproducible as a logo on a banner, stationery, apparel, etc..

Concept and symbolism by Eric Chen. Final design by Mike Nicholas with final detailing by Luke Stalcup. Todd Murphy contributed artistic suggestions. Spring 2006 - Oscar Escano, President.

Friday, May 19, 2006

U.S. Army Lieutenant Sean Wilkes, Columbia Class of 2006

May 19th, 2006, Low Plaza, Columbia University. MilVets Vice President Eric Chen renders to newly commissioned U.S. Army Lieutenant Sean Wilkes, CC06, his Columbia-military first salute with Alma Mater witnessing.

Photo by MilVets President Oscar Escano.

Also see the event account for Columbia College Class of 2006 graduate, Air Force Lieutenant Robert Wray's commissioning ceremony held in the rotunda of Low library on May 19th, 2006.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

MilVets Constitution (last amended 07APR06)

Commentary: The intent of the 07APR06 amendment of the MilVets Constitution is to concentrate executive authority and responsibility in the President and Vice President, streamline decision making, and simplify and clarify the governing structure and procedures, thereby enhancing functionality and efficiency, and reducing bureaucracy. The rigid Executive Board structure has been replaced by a flexible E-Board with a council and cabinet that can be adjusted as needed. The amendment reflects our experience that in any given year, MilVets may only find two committed leaders and may not be able to fill a prescribed slate of executive positions. Furthermore, the group's performance in an annual term invariably depends on the President and Vice President. Our experience has shown that committed lower executives rarely can overcome a poor President and Vice President under any governing structure. Meanwhile, an otherwise committed President and Vice President can be frustrated by structure-induced bureaucracy and a poor E-Board. Therefore, we have determined that the President and Vice President should be given increased power to act expeditiously and adjust their E-Board as needed.
- Eric Chen, Vice President

Last Amended: 04/7/2006
Constitution of the United States Military Veterans of Columbia University


We, the members of the United States Military Veterans of Columbia University, have established this organization to provide a support network for its members and foster awareness and appreciation of military service as well as the unique perspective and contribution of Columbia’s military veterans to campus activities and dialogue.

Article 1 – Name

Section 1 - The name of this organization shall be the United States Military Veterans of Columbia University, hereafter referred to as MilVets.

Section 2 - The officers of MilVets shall make up the Executive Board of MilVets, hereafter referred to as the E-Board.

Article 2 - Purpose

Section 1
2.1.1 - The purpose of this organization shall be to provide a support network for members and a forum for discussion and education of various aspects of military service and culture, and more generally, to add to the diversity of discourse on Columbia’s campus by sharing experiences of military service.
2.1.2 - The organization shall be nonpartisan and social, focusing on personal military experiences.

Section 2 - The E-Board shall plan and coordinate events and activities that will achieve the aforementioned goals.

Article 3 - Membership

Section 1
3.1.1 - The general body of the organization must be comprised of at least two-thirds CC, SEAS, and GS students. Membership to MilVets is open to any affiliate of Columbia University, i.e., undergraduate, graduate students, faculty, alumni, etc.
3.1.2 - Requirement for voting membership in MilVets is documented proof, in the form of a military identification card, Form DD-214, or a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), of past or present service in one of the five armed services of the United States—Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard.
3.1.3 - Non-voting membership in the group is open to all members of the Columbia community.

Section 2
3.2.1 - The privilege of non-voting membership is participation in MilVets functions. The privileges of voting membership are participation plus voting rights.
3.2.2 - The responsibilities of membership are to attend meetings and participate at events.

Section 3 - Membership may be revoked by the E-Board if deemed necessary or appropriate.

Article 4 - Meetings and Procedures

Section 1
4.1.1 - The MilVets E-Board will determine the date and time of each meeting.
4.1.2 - General body meetings of MilVets will be held on the third Thursday of each month or as needed, at the E-Board’s discretion.

Section 2 - All procedural issues require 2/3 vote of quorum. ¼ Voting members constitutes quorum.

Article 5 - Officers

Section 1 – An officer must have voting membership.

Section 2 – All officers have E-Board voting rights.

Section 3 - MilVets shall be managed and directed by the following officers (in order of succession and authority):

Vice President
Council member (x 6)
Cabinet member (by Presidential appointment)

Article 6 – Duties and Responsibilities

Section 1 - The President shall:
6.1.1 - Serve as the primary spokesperson for MilVets.
6.1.2 - Bear primary responsibility for the execution of all MilVets activities and affairs.
6.1.3 - Determine the agenda for weekly meetings, subject to review by the entire E-Board.
6.1.4 - Chair the meetings of MilVets.
6.1.5 - Foster and Maintain relationships with university administrators, other groups, and the general public, significant to the experience of the MilVets general body.
6.1.6 - Facilitate the coverage of MilVets activities by campus publications.
6.1.7 - Vote in group-wide votes only in the event of a tie (E-Board votes not included).
6.1.8 - Keep the E-Board informed of all current business.
6.1.9 - Ensure the MilVets general body is updated on all relevant issues.
6.1.10 - Have explicit knowledge of the MilVets Constitution, and settle or arbitrate questions pertaining to constitutional procedures, which may arise in MilVets meetings.
6.1.11 - Determine what, if any, additional Cabinet positions (for example, but not limited to, Treasurer, Secretary, Activities Coordinator, Communications Director, Webmaster) are added to the E-Board, define the duties and responsibilities of those positions, and appoint qualified members to those positions with majority E-Board approval. See APPENDIX A.
6.1.12 – Brief the next elected President on all the relevant duties and responsibilities so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 2 - The Vice President shall:
6.2.1 - Assist the President in the fulfillment of his or her duties and responsibilities.
6.2.2 - Assume the role of President in the event of the resignation, impeachment, removal, unexpected graduation, absence, or ineligibility of the President.
6.2.3 - Represent MilVets at all relevant meetings that are not attended by the President.
6.2.4 - Assist other E-Board members in the planning and execution of MilVets activities.
6.2.5 - Brief the next elected Vice President on all the relevant duties and responsibilities so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 3 – A Council member shall:
6.3.1 - Assist the President and Vice President in the fulfillment of their duties and responsibilities.
6.3.2 - Represent MilVets at all relevant meetings that are not attended by the President and Vice President.
6.3.3 - Assist other E-Board members in the planning and execution of MilVets activities.
6.3.4 - Brief the next elected Council members on all the relevant duties and responsibilities so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 4 – A Cabinet member shall:
6.4.1 - Assist the President in the fulfillment of his or her duties and responsibilities.
6.4.2 – Carry out the duties and responsibilities of his or her position, as determined by the President.
6.3.3 - Assist other E-Board members in the planning and execution of MilVets activities.

Article 7 - Electing, Appointing, and Removing Officers

Section 1
7.1.1 - Elections shall be held annually no later than March 25 so that the next E-Board will have input in the funding forms for the next academic year. A MilVets general body meeting will be held for this purpose.
7.1.2 - Change of command shall take place no earlier than the last day of classes of the Spring semester and no later than the end of the Spring semester.
7.1.3 – During the time between elections and change of command, newly elected MilVets officers shall be permitted to observe E-Board operations and familiarize themselves with their duties and responsibilities. Outgoing MilVets officers should mentor and advise their successors on these duties and responsibilities.

Section 2
7.2.1 - Any voting member wishing to run for office must be nominated for the position (self-nominations are also allowed). Another voting member of the MilVets general body must second that nomination.
7.2.2 - After the nomination is seconded, the candidate must be elected by a majority vote, or, if it is a contested election, by more votes than the other candidates.

Section 3 - An officer may be impeached by a 3/4 vote of the E-Board not including the officer under indictment if he or she consistently neglects the responsibilities of the E-Board and/or engages in behavior or activities that are disruptive or destructive to the existence of MilVets.

Section 4 - In the event of a mid-term vacancy of an elected officer or an unfilled position, the E-Board will, at its discretion, appoint a voting member to the position, hold an emergency election for the unfilled position, or devise an alternate solution of its choosing.

Article 8 – Committees

Section 1 - The duties of a standing committee shall be to organize and prepare for whatever mission the committee has been formed to accomplish.

Section 2 - Committee members will be selected and removed by the E-Board.

Section 3 - Committees may be formed and dissolved by the organization if a majority vote of the E-Board deems the creation or elimination of a committee necessary.

Article 9 - By-Laws

Section 1 - By-Laws of the organization shall be established and altered by a majority vote of the MilVets general body.

Section 2 - By-Laws of the E-Board shall be established and altered by a majority vote of the E-Board.

Article 10 - Amendments to the Constitution

Section 1 - Amendments to the Constitution require a 3/4 vote within the E-Board or a 2/3 vote of the entire voting membership. Any voting member may propose an amendment to the E-Board; however, a majority vote by the E-Board must be achieved for the proposal to be put on the E-Board agenda.

Section 2 - If a proposed amendment is successfully placed on the agenda but fails to achieve a 3/4 ratifying vote by the E-Board, a simple majority vote of the E-Board will be required to pass the proposed amendment on to the entire MilVets membership for a vote.

Article 11 - Ratification

This Constitution shall be established by an affirmative vote of 3/4 of the E-Board or a 2/3 vote by the entire voting membership of the organization.

APPENDIX A - Sample Duties and Responsibilities for Cabinet Positions

Section 3 - The Secretary shall:
6.3.1 - Prepare the agenda prior to each meeting.
6.3.2 - Document the activities of MilVets by taking minutes/summaries at meetings and collecting reports from all MilVets officers and committee chairpersons.
6.2.3 - Make the above available to the MilVets general body, if possible, by posting them on the MilVets webpage (see Webmaster).
6.3.4 - Take attendance at meetings and notify the President in the event of an Officer’s repeated absence.
6.3.5 - Compile and update regularly a calendar of events being planned by MilVets, to be posted on the website (see Webmaster).
6.3.6 - Have explicit knowledge of the MilVets constitution, and settle or arbitrate questions pertaining to constitutional procedures, which may arise in MilVets meetings.
6.3.7 - Brief the next elected Secretary on all the relevant duties so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 4 - The Treasurer shall:
6.4.1 - Administer and monitor the budget of MilVets.
6.4.2 - Implement timely, fair procedures for the funding of student activities.
6.4.3 - Maintain and make accessible detailed records of revenues, expenditures and encumbrances of MilVets.
6.4.4 - Submit a general ledger statement to the MilVets E-Board at each E-Board meeting.
6.4.5 - Maintain good relations and communicate effectively with the ABC/SDA office concerning budgetary and funding issues.
6.4.6 - Brief the next elected Treasurer on all the relevant duties so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 5 - The Activities Chair shall:
6.5.1 - Arrange any food or beverage needs for MilVets meetings.
6.5.2 - Assist in the planning of inter-group social functions when possible.
6.5.3 - Write up a paragraph (or more) evaluation of all events with recommendations for how to improve them in the future, and have them posted in the archives of the website (see webmaster).
6.5.4 - Administrate and supervise forums used by members to facilitate relevant MilVets discourse (i.e.: facebook forum).
6.5.5 - Arrange monthly group social meetings on the third Thursday of each month.
6.5.6 – Brief the next elected Activities Chair on all the relevant duties so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 6 - The Communications Director shall:
6.6.1 - Be the primary source of written content for internal MilVets media (newsletters, web announcements, etc.)
6.6.2 - Interview new members and write brief biographical profiles, with said members’ permission.
6.6.3 - Work closely with the webmaster (see webmaster) to upload written content.
6.6.4 - Put a positive spin on MilVets functions in order to promote morale and encourage members’ participation.
6.6.5 – Brief the next elected Communications Director on all the relevant duties so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Section 7 - The Webmasters shall:
6.7.1 - Maintain and update the MilVets website
6.7.2 - Work closely with the President to ensure the website accurately represents MilVets to the public, in compliance with Article 2, Section 1.
6.7.3 - Work closely with other E-board members to upload relevant content (i.e.: Upcoming events, photos from past events, etc.)
6.7.4 - Facilitate the submission of member's editorials, interviews, photos, etc. to the website, as appropriate.
6.7.5 – Brief the next elected webmasters on all relevant duties so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Student speeches from Columbia University Chaplain's Prayer for Troops and Veterans

Columbia milvets folding the flag in Saint Paul's Chapel Columbia University Julia presenting the folded flag of Chaplain Davis's father, a Korean War veteran, to Chaplain Davis
The members of the flag folding detail were Eric Chen (GS), Peter Kim (GS), Mike Nicholas (GS), Julia (SEAS:grad), Matt Sanchez (GS), Mark Xue (CC), and Riaz Zaidi (CC). Julia was the officer in charge and Mike Nicholas was the sergeant in charge. For coverage of the event, see Special Ceremony for U.S. Troops in the 20MAR06 Columbia University Record.

Following are the student speeches from Chaplain's Prayer for Troops and Veterans, March 9, 2006 at St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia University. The student speakers are Julia (SEAS: grad), Peter Kim (GS), Mark Xue (CC), and Oscar Escano (GS).

OPENING REMARKS. Julia, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, US Army Captain, served as a Company Commander in Korea & Afghanistan:

Good afternoon Chaplain Davis, fellow students and friends of Columbia.

As a former Company Commander stationed in Korea, I think about a day at the Rifle Range a few months ago. I ran into Private Laue coming off the firing line. With one look at his target you could see that he fired expertly. The company had unanimously nicknamed him "Big Country" and I couldn't help but play off the stereotype a little and asked if he learned how to shoot chasing squirrels as a kid in the backwoods. He replied, "No ma'am, I never fired a weapon until I enlisted. I am what the Army made me."

What he said was burned into my brain and has stuck with me because I feel as though it speaks volumes about the Army. The warriors of the past have taught us and molded the Army of today. The Army that we see strewn across the globe today is made possible by the sweat and blood of what previous Armies and our surroundings have made us.

Ask an average Columbia student walking across campus where the U.S. is engaged in WAR right now and the typical responses would likely include Iraq. You ask which war is nicknamed the "Forgotten War" and most would answer Afghanistan. Few would even include Korea in any of their responses to either of these questions, but indeed it would be correct. Korea is the area of operations in which we've been engaged in one of the longest conflicts. We are currently in a state of Armistice and U.S. presence there is a deterrent to North Korean aggression.

As most veterans of recent Korea deployments know, within 24 hours of landing in the country you're given a "threat brief" where you're told that 20,000 artillery tubes are pointed at you right now. North Korea doesn't need fancy computerized long-range missiles or biological weapons to devastate Seoul, the capital of South Korea; regular old conventional weapons will do the trick to do a land grab across the DMZ. There have been U.S. troops stationed there for over 50 years and even with deliberate troop reductions in the region, head-counts still rack up to over 35,000 today. So you may ask, why are we there today? I won't give a spin-doctored political statement but all I can say with absolute certainty is that it is in the noble pursuit of peace and the ultimate reunification of the two countries.

Life as a U.S. service member in Korea now lacks many of the creature comforts of home but in many ways can be considered comparable to some stateside duty stations. It is a far cry from what our predecessors had to endure. The snowy hilltops, which Soldiers defended with ferocity, are now sprawling Army camps. The ports in which MacArthur conducted the great Inchon landing are now sophisticated homes to private and military transportation hubs. Korea itself has leapt into a globally competitive industrialized nation . . . all of these qualities would be hardly recognizable to the Korean War veterans whose lives it took to make this possible, whose families were left behind to fight a battle in a foreign land, whose presence in that country stirred controversy, and whose blood was shed in pursuit of a greater good.

Is it like Iraq? Will we see the same transformations in their future? I don't know, but I do know that many of the Soldiers serving in Korea today, and myself, sometimes take for granted the hard-fought battles and sacrifices that were made there and earned a special place in history in order to make both our country and their country great. Those warriors that went before us forged an unmistakable bond and their sacrifices are woven into the legacy that makes our country what it is today. So, in a lot of ways, we are what they made us . . . Chaplain Davis' father, whom we honor here today with the presentation of the American flag, was one of these great Americans who answered the call to serve in Korea. He did so on behalf of you, me and our great nation, and we honor him in symbolic observance of his generation's sacrifice.

So if I were to share a foxhole with him today, I'd turn to him and say thank you. Thank you for serving so that other people didn't have to. Thanks for serving so that my parents could immigrate to this country, which allowed me to go to college, become an officer in the same Army that YOU helped to build, in order to come back around full circle and serve on the same soil you served. So, Thank you, Sir, because . . . I am what you made me.

MILVETS PRAYER. Peter Kim, General Studies, served with the US Marines in Korea & Iraq:

CLOSING REMARKS (1). Mark Xue, Columbia College, President of Hamilton Society (formerly Columbia Military Society), US Marines officer candidate:

There are two related but distinct military communities at Columbia, which bracket the military experience. On the one hand, the CU Milvets represent military veterans who have returned to school after their terms of service, bringing their military experience to academia. On the other hand, the Hamilton Society represents students who, in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton, seek to use their Columbia education in the service of their country.

When America decides to put its young fighting men and women in dangerous places, it turns to officers - fresh college graduates like many of you will shortly be - to lead them there. It is an incredible burden, to be entrusted with some of the finest people this country can produce, to lead them into dark and ugly places, and to return them with honor. When we here ask for the protection of our troops in mind and body, I remind you that those cadets and officer candidates among you will have the opportunity, and responsibility, of ensuring their physical and moral safety. To them, I say this: never forget that regardless of your service, branch, or specialty, your ultimate responsibility is for the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen in your charge. America entrusts you with its finest. Honor that trust.

MilVets President Oscar Escano delivering closing remarks
Oscar Escano delivering closing remarks

CLOSING REMARKS (2). Oscar Escano, General Studies, President of US Military Veterans of Columbia University (MilVets), served as a US Army Ranger in Afghanistan:

Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for coming. Thank you, Chaplain Davis, for bestowing this great honor upon us. Thank you, fellow Columbia military veterans, for permitting these wonderful people to bear witness to the most sacred and solemn token of respect to one of our fallen comrades. Most of all, thank you Mr. Davis, for your service. Everything I am about to say is about you, Sir.

For those of you who have never seen a flag-folding ceremony, you may be wondering: Just what does this all mean? I think it has everything to do with sacrifice. But what is sacrifice? Sacrifice stems from an understanding that there is something out there that is greater than yourself. It is a feeling that comes from deep inside of you; a core-shaking confidence in a belief that makes you stop acting in pursuit of your own immediate self-interest and instead for the benefit of that belief.

Sacrifice is when a single mom from the projects works two, even three jobs, so her kids can be fed and clothed. Sacrifice is when a civil rights protestor stands firm and marches on, despite knowing that he is moments away from being beaten by police, attacked by dogs, or knocked to the ground by water from a fire hose. Sacrifice is when a Guatemalan immigrant in Fort Lee, New Jersey does backbreaking construction work for $7 an hour just to send some money home every few weeks.

But it strikes me that in our generation, sacrifice is largely seen as either a relic of the past (an outdated, irrelevant value), or something tucked away in society and rarely sought after or openly admired. My generation is a great one, but it has mostly lost sight of what sacrifice means. I fear that our catchphrase is moving away from the words of Helen Keller, that true happiness "is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose," and towards the catchphrase, "What have you done for me lately?"

However, there is one group that will never lose sight of what it means to sacrifice, and that's Soldiers. Soldiers will always know sacrifice because to be a soldier, by the very nature of the profession, is to sacrifice everything you have. To this day, when you become a Soldier you give up your Playstation, your television, even your friends. Even then, when all those things your generation regards as valuable have been taken away from you, you sacrifice even more to do one more push-up, march one more mile, or endure one more exhausting day of fighting. And you keep giving, not to the point of discomfort, but to the point of necessity, until as Winston Churchill said, you "have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

I'd like to tell you a story about sacrifice as I witnessed it personally. Exactly 4 years and 6 days ago, at about this same time of day, I found myself with half of my Ranger platoon on a mountaintop in Northern Afghanistan fighting for our lives. In the predawn hours, a terrible thing had occurred. A helicopter carrying fellow Special Operations troops was fired upon by Al Qaeda, and one of its occupants fell out of the helicopter and was in enemy hands. We had every reason to believe he was dead, but we were resolute in our need to recover him. Dead or alive, big or small, he would not be left behind.

A few short hours later, we arrived at the mountain via helicopter and began a daylong battle with the enemy there. At about this very time that day, five of our men had already been killed. Surrounded and likely outnumbered in the middle of Al Qaeda territory, we were in a firefight with a cluster of fighters who were shooting from an adjacent hilltop with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Bullets smacked into the knee-deep snow all around us with a relentless staccato rhythm and rockets blew up at our feet as we gritted our teeth and struggled to regain the initiative.

It was during this particular firefight, as I returned fire from behind a rock, that I saw something incredible. Air Force medic Jason Cunningham was kneeling out in the open, tending to one of the wounded, as all of this was going on. He was by no means unaware of the firefight in progress. He knew he was a target when bullets cracked over his head. And it was certainly not the case that he didn't care. It just wasn't important to him at the time. He knew his duty to that wounded soldier was more important than his own safety.


A burst of machine gun ammo shot through the air. He screamed. When I got to him, I asked him where he was hit. He seemed determined not to lose his cool. He pointed to his abdomen and told me, "I think it's OK, I think it's OK." As a squad medic myself, I felt around under his shirt and waistline, trying to find an entry wound. By that time my comrades caught up to me and pulled him behind cover while I cared for his patient. A few hours later, Jason was dead. His patient, however, survived.


Jason knew he was in danger, as we all did. But something became more important to him than his own safety - the care of his men and the success of the mission. In a generation that occasionally glorifies consumption and personal gain, we don't hear stories like this very often, which is why I was compelled to tell it to you today.
Today's ceremony is about sacrifice. The flag you saw folded represents the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for a belief: the belief that this nation, despite its imperfections, is a great nation. The belief that (as a Marine Corps Drill Instructor says to his recruits) "the man to the left and right of you is more important than YOU are." The belief that freedom isn't free, but that it requires that brave young men and women give up their own freedom so that others may enjoy it - even when this means exercising the freedom to speak badly about them.

That flag you saw folded today means everything to a soldier. We salute it when we pass it. Our coffins are draped with it. And when we come home after serving, as every military veteran at this university has done, we never look at our flag in the same way again.

Point of contact: Eric Chen (elc2003 at columbia.edu)

Monday, February 6, 2006

Press Release: Anti-Military Discrimination at Columbia University

06Mar06: Success! The Columbia University Discrimination Policy has been amended. The restricted and inadequate "Vietnam era and disabled veterans" of the old policy has been exchanged for the inclusive "military status". See the revised policy.

Background note on this action. Letter of support for Matt Sanchez.

** Media references below - content last updated 24Mar06. Columbia Spectator links updated 26JAN07. **



The Columbia University Provost has met with veteran and military-related students to discuss anti-military discrimination on the Columbia campus. Further meetings with senior university administrators are being arranged. In the Fall of 2005, a Columbia student was verbally attacked by other students for being a U.S. Marine. The Columbia Spectator, New York Sun, and Fox News (The Fox Report, Fox and Friends) have covered this incident.

U.S. MILITARY VETERANS OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY asks that Columbia University amend its Discrimination and Harassment Policy to grant all veterans and military-related persons protected status. Likewise, we hold the university responsible for promoting a military sensitive environment on campus and preventing further discrimination of veterans and military-related persons at the university.

An effective discrimination policy protects the diverse members of any evolving academic community, sets out transparent standards of acceptable conduct, and reinforces the distinct line between free speech and discrimination. This allows for the safe environment that is essential for everyone to participate fully in the academic domain.

The current discrimination policy of Columbia University, which limits codified protection to “Vietnam era and disabled” veterans, is outdated and inadequate for the present-day veteran and military-related population. Last semester, a student at a university event was verbally attacked for being a U.S. Marine. This combined with a recent poll among Columbia’s veterans and military-related persons further confirms the need for reform of the Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

As Columbia President Lee Bollinger stated in response to the recent hate crime incident in the Ruggles dormitory, "The entire Columbia community is injured when any of its members are made, unjustly, to feel vulnerable. Such deplorable acts of hate have no place at Columbia and will not be tolerated." We hope Columbia University will make the necessary changes to show that discrimination against veterans and military-related persons also will not be tolerated.

Oscar Escano
U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University
Website: www.columbia.edu/cu/usmilvetscu
Contact: oje2001 -at- columbia.edu


Relevant passages that limit university protection to "status as a Vietnam Era or disabled veteran" can be found here: POLICY STATEMENT ON DISCRIMINATION AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT (scroll down to Definitions).


For purposes of this policy, discrimination . . . [is] defined as follows:


Discrimination may occur by:

1. treating members of a protected class less favorably because of their membership in that class. The protected groups are based upon race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran, the actual or perceived status of an individual as a victim of domestic violence; or

2. having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on protected class members.

Fox News interview (transcript) with Oscar Escano and Matt Sanchez, 2/3/06.

PRINT MEDIA COVERAGE (from latest to earliest):

"Discrimination Policy Amended" by Matt Mireles, Columbia Spectator News, 3/24/06. [working link]
New Policy Wording Adds Military Status to Protected Group List

Website: "Friends of Sanchez" created by Ryan Delany, milvet at Harvard University.

"Military Veterans Bring Diverse Voices to Columbia Community" by the MilVets E-board (Oscar Escano, Luke Stalcup and Mike Podberesky), Columbia Spectator Letter to the Editor, 2/21/06. [working link]

"ROTC and the Ivory Tower: Cease Fire" by Adam Weinstein, Columbia Spectator Opinion, 2/13/06. [working link]

"Sanchez Lodges Protest" by Sadia Latifi, Columbia Spectator News, 2/9/06. [working link]
Reserve Marine Files Grievance With SDA Against ISO Protest

"Veterans Take Grievances to Columbia Provost" by Alec Magnet, New York Sun, 2/1/06.

"Revisiting Vietnam" by Monique Dols, Columbia Spectator Opinion, 1/30/06. [working link]

"A Conservative Witch-Hunt" by Zach Zill, Columbia Spectator Opinion , 1/27/06. [working link]

"A Firm Stance" by Laura Brunts, Columbia Spectator News, 1/25/06. [working link]
CU Marine Reservist Targeted In Angry Confrontation; No Disciplinary Action Taken

"Letter Defending Campus Actions Towards Military Recruiters Was Ignorant and Inconsiderate" by Todd Murphy, Columbia Spectator Letter to the Editor, 1/24/06. [working link]

"Columnist Exaggerated Campus Treatment of Military Recruiters" by Jonah Birch, Columbia Spectator Letter to the Editor, 1/19/06. [working link]

"Veterans Deserve Better" by Chris Kulawik, Columbia Spectator Opinion, 1/18/06. [working link]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

MilVets response to Professor De Genova, Apr 2003

Commentary: This is the April 4, 2003 letter we addressed to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and Columbia University in response to remarks made by Professor Nicholas De Genova on March 26, 2003 at a faculty teach-in in Low Library. [press release]

U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University

To President Bollinger and the Columbia University community:

As veterans of the United States armed forces and students of Columbia University, we unanimously find the comments made by Professor Nicholas De Genova at the March 26th teach-in to be unacceptable. We have friends, colleagues, and family currently serving in the armed forces in Iraq. Additionally, many of us are actively serving in the U.S. armed forces or may be recalled to active duty. Professor De Genova’s suggestion that soldiers “frag” or kill their fellow soldiers is more than a mere rhetorical device protected by free speech: it is an open invitation to murder. Similarly, his call for a million replays of the horrific events of Mogadishu, in which 18 American soldiers and unknown hundreds of Somalis were killed, demonstrates his contempt and disregard for human life.

Professor De Genova’s comments would not have been tolerated had they been directed at anyone other than the men and women of the American armed forces. It is difficult to imagine that Columbia’s administration would allow a faculty member to make similar hate-filled statements toward any other social or ethnic group without taking disciplinary action. Professor De Genova’s call for violence encourages actions that endanger Americans who are not only soldiers but also Columbia students.

We therefore believe that the university should formally request from Professor De Genova a public apology and retraction of his remarks, addressed to the Columbia community. In addition, we ask that the administration issue an official condemnation of Professor De Genova’s comments and issue him a letter of reprimand or similar administrative punishment. Because of the nature of his statements, their effect on students and service members, and the fact that he made them at an event on Columbia’s campus with university sanction, we believe that this is an appropriate and reasonable course of action.


The undersigned members of the United States Military Veterans of Columbia University:

Carl Beal, GSAS, USMC
Iman Bhullar, GS, Army
Jedidiah Celima, GS, USMC
Eric Chen, GS, Army
James Davis, GS, USMC
Scott Davis, GSB, USMC
Mick Devine, GS, USMC
Oscar Escano, GS, Army
Shane Hachey, GS, Army
Danny Han, CC, Army
Frederick Hawkins, GS, Navy
Brian Kessens, GSB, Army
Hee Ann Kim, GS, Army
Kurt Krummenacker, GSB, Army
Jeff Kwon, GS, Army
Stephen Lacey, GSAS, Army
Craig Lipman, SIPA, Navy
Alexander Martinez, CU, Army
James McDonald, CU, Army
David Metzler, GS, Navy
Sean Mullin, Film, Army
Edwin Pulido, GS, Navy
Richard Space, Jr., GS, USMC
Jeff Sult, TC, USMC
David Swift, CU, Navy
Robert Tarulli, GSB, Army
Wayne Thorsen, GS, Army
James Vilaichit, GS, USMC
Stephen Walsh, CE, Army
William Ward, GSB, Army
Justin White, GS, USMC
Paul Yates, GS, Navy
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