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policy of Columbia University, which limits codified protection to “Vietnam era and disabled” veterans, is outdated and inadequate for the present-day veteran and military-related population.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]


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