MIT officials have asked the University to help fund the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, which about 50 Harvard students cross-register in at that school.
This fall's request was the first since Harvard students started cross-registering seven years ago.
Although paying ROTC expenses does not seem to be a controversial issue among the Faculty, Dean of the Faculty Henry Rosovsky said recently he plans to conduct a preemptory Faculty vote this spring.
On Wednesday, the Faculty Council agreed to discuss the funding of the program at a future meeting. In a "procedural" meeting, the Council decided that it had not resolved the issue in earlier Faculty legislation, said John R. Marquand, secretary of the Council.
The request for the money came from top-ranking MIT officials who objected to bearing the financial burden of operational costs alone.
"It's a considerable amount of money," said Robert Dankese, MIT's budget director.
"I felt it [ROTC] was an activity in which we were investing serious amounts of money and which others were deriving much benefit," added Associate Provost Frank E. Perkins. Although Perkins did not formulate the request, he first proposed the issue last year.
MIT has asked Harvard to pay more than $40,000 each year to help fund ROTC, said Melissa D. Gerrity, associate dean of the Faculty for financial affairs.
If the Faculty approves the request, it will illustrate the continuing moderation of the University's policy toward ROTC since 1969.
Fourteen years ago ROTC was banished from Harvard following the most turbulent student protest in the University's history. But a Faculty vote forbidding Harvard students to enroll in ROTC was overturned in 1976, and last year the College approved formation of a "Friends of ROTC" club.
Rosovsky said yesterday that the 1969 Faculty legislation is complex and subject to interpretation.
"I feel the best way to deal with this issue is to be entirely open," he said.
Rosovsky added that officials may simply decide to pay the funds MIT requested, without putting the issue to a vote.
But Rosovsky declined to comment on how he thought a vote would turn out.
Marquand also refused to comment on the potential outcome.
"Ten or so years ago it was a problem, but it is unclear whether it is now," he explained.
Presently, ROTC students receive scholarships worth $9000 in tuition as well as a $100 monthly stipend, according to James S. Miller, director of financial aid.
He added that while Harvard saves financial aid funds indirectly because of ROTC, not all ROTC members would have applied for financial aid if they did not receive government scholarships.