Bok Inches On ROTC


President Bok moved just a shade closer to supporting the return of ROTC to Harvard last week, telling the Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life (CHUL), in a closed meeting that the 1969 Faculty decision to abolish ROTC was made under extreme pressure and great haste.

But Bok is still maintaining a delicate balancing act on the ROTC issue, and he told CHUL what he has told practically everybody else who has asked him about ROTC--that everything he says about it is only a personal statement, and that a detailed study of ROTC should be made before any action is taken.

That study won't be made, Bok said, until he feels that there is a high level of concern about the issue. Petitions from students in any of the graduate schools, Bok said, could make him seriously consider having the study done.

Bok also made it clear that he doesn't buy the objections that many students and Faculty have to ROTC. He said Harvard is not prepared to accept the argument that it should break its ties with the military because of the suffering the military can represent.

The CHUL asked Bok to address it on the ROTC question last month, after unanimously rejecting a New American Movement (NAM) proposal that it conduct a full-scale student referendum on the issue.

NAM approached CHUL with its proposal early in October, armed with 2500 signatures of undergraduates on a petition asking for the referendum.

CHUL decided not to hold the referendum because the Faculty has not discussed ROTC yet, and a Faculty vote on the issue does not appear imminent. Dean Rosovsky promised CHUL that he will inform them immediately if the Faculty decides to discuss ROTC.

NAM decided to start its petition during the summer, after Bok told an alumni meeting in June, "I do not believe our record and our conscience can be fully clear until we manifest our willingness to entertain a ROTC program on terms compatible with our usual institutional standards."

Bok told CHUL he thinks students should be able to participate in whatever extracurricular activities they choose, including ROTC. He said the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in its 1969 action, has abolished a program which students in other faculties also participated in.

David L. Johnson '74, the Adams House CHUL representative, said yesterday that Bok apparently has "no immediate plans" on ROTC, and that he is not "just being devious."

"He doesn't want to be backed into a corner by the students or the alumni," Johnson said. "He wants to remain a free agent, and he won't let the 1969 decision intimidate him."

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