Inactivity Plagues Friends of ROTC

Club Suffers Lull After Stormy Drive for Recognition

Six months after College recognition of a campus organization for Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) students incited widespread debate, the club has become dormant and has scheduled no activities for this fall.

Reversing a policy which banned ROTC from campus in response to student riots in the 1960s, the student-faculty Committee on College Life last spring gave Friends of ROTC recognition as a Harvard-Radcliffe group following a six-week drive by several ROTC students.

But the club has yet to take advantage of its ability to hold and publicize activities on the Harvard campus.

"It hasn't been active this year," said Andrew C. Deardorff '84, the club's initiator, adding that he is concentrating on raising funds from Harvard ROTC alumni for future events.

"We'd eventually like to have the club be a forum for speakers, but we wouldn't want to infringe on other groups like the Democratic Club, "Deardorff explained.

Most ROTC students contacted said that participation in classes and exercises on the MIT campus--which often takes three to four hours a week--leaves little time to devote to the Harvard branch of the club.

"It's difficult to do with all the time we spend at MIT," said Laura C. Stich '85, adding that most of the club's founders are juniors and seniors who have added responsibilities, such as leading detachments during their last years at college.

David Gibson '84 sees the club as a non-essential means of support, but useful for the more than 70 students who commute weekly to MIT to participate in the three ROTC programs--Army, Navy and Air Force.

"The reason we're not jumping into it is that the seniors have spent three years under the status quo [with no on-campus organization] and survived," Gibson said.

Administrators' main concern about allowing a campus ROTC group was that it might attempt to recruit students. Consequently, the committee approved the organization subject to monitoring by University Hall.

Tufts University imposed similar restrictions on a newly reinstated Tufts ROTC group, and that organization has sponsored numerous speakers and events, according to Michelle Tinker, head of the Tri-Service Organization of Tufts University.

Within the last year, Tinker said, Tufts ROTC students have succeeded in moving ROTC classes back on campus and winning recognition of the club by pursuing the issues through the student government.

Tinker said the club is trying to establish a "positive image" by sponsoring United Way fund drives and throwing campus-wide parties with funds from the student government, which allots them approximately $1200 a year.

"The difference between our organization and MIT is that they push others to get involved." Tinker said, adding, "the sad difference between Tufts and Harvard is that at Tufts, enough people will come to an ROTC event who don't care about who sponsored it. At Harvard, they would care."

But for the moment, the Harvard contingent is satisfied that ROTC members are allowed to gather on campus.

"It's really a non-issue," said Deardorff. "Before, there was no way for us to get together whether or not we wanted to--now it's possible. All the furor was really blown out of proportion.