By LEARNED FOOTE For nearly four decades, Columbia University has excluded Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) from its campus, a decision made in the wake of student unrest in the late 1960s. But this Sept. 11, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama reignited the debate before a crowd of 8,000 students when they both came out in favor of ROTC's return. Last week, this latest argument over ROTC ended when results of an undergraduate referendum were tallied. The pro-ROTC side lost by 39 votes. A few gay students, I among them, publicly supported the return of ROTC. Today, opposition to ROTC's return focuses predominantly on the federal law known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which prevents gay people from serving openly in the armed forces. Columbia Students for Naval ROTC, a coalition of roughly 30 students, included four gay people. Notably, the other three gay members were veterans, men and women who had served under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Every member of Columbia Students for NROTC -- gay and straight -- opposes that policy, and yet we strongly believe in NROTC's return. Why? The ROTC programs produce more officers than service academies like West Point. More than 60% of officers in the army are ROTC graduates. Through ROTC, students receive a liberal arts education thanks to generous scholarships, often covering the entire cost of tuition. They spend their undergraduate years studying alongside the civilians they may eventually risk their lives for, promoting a healthy interaction between civil society and the military. Upon graduation, students in ROTC receive commissions and command 30-50 soldiers or sailors, immediately contributing to military leadership. Columbia has a long history of military service. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower once served as our university president, and 23,000 midshipmen trained on our campus during World War II. Our Naval ROTC once graduated more officers per year than the Naval Academy.Article continued below. Why Columbia Should Welcome ROTC - WSJ.com Columbia's reasoning for the ROTC ban doesn't hold a lot of water. Why didn't they take Iran's human rights record into consideration when they extended Ahmadinejad an invitation to speak at Columbia? The fact of the matter is that they have an inherent hatred towards the military. Their policy hurts families that can use the tuition money in a time where the price of a college education is skyrocketing.