Harvard should pay its share of administrative expenses for undergraduates cross-registered in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at MIT, the Faculty Council decided Wednesday.
The Council, the Faculty's steering committee, approved an MIT request for reimbursement of more than $40,000 in clerical, heating, fighting, and other costs.
The full Faculty will consider the recommendation at its next meeting on February 14. Passage of Council proposals is usually routines.
One decisive factor in the Council's near-unanimous decision was an implicit threat that MIT would close ROTC to Harvard students, professors said this week.
"They have not said that, but it is obviously a possibility," said Jan Ziokowlski, assistant professor of the Classics and a temporary member of the Council.
In 1971 the Faculty voted to remove ROTC from campus. But beginning in 1976, students cross-registered in MIT's programs with Harvard's consent. University policy treated ROTC as an extra-curricular activity, on a par with sports of dramatics.
Harvard enrollment in ROTC has since climbed to over 60 and rising costs and financial worries have become a major irritant at MIT.
"We were investing serious amounts of money," MIT Associate Provost Frank E. Perkins said last month," and others were deriving much benefit."
In December, MIT billed Harvard $40,000, Harvard's commitment to ROTC as an extra-curricular activity became an expensive proposition, but the Council decided to keep the ROTC option for Harvard undergraduates, Council members said.
After what Secretary to the Faculty John R. Marquand called "a very thorough discussion" over two meetings, the Council voted with one abstention to recommend the reimbursement to the Faculty.
The decision drew critism from some student leaders. "Gay people are asked to subsidize a program which discriminates against them," said Jake Stevens '86, chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Students Association (GLSA).
The military's policy of not inducting gay and disabled people violates Harvard's policy of non-association with discriminatory institutions and led to protests by the CLSA and other student group over military recruitment last spring.
Members of the Faculty Council argued that subsidizing MIT was distinct from paying the military establishment and that Harvard would not violate its non-discriminatory principles by helping to fond the MIT ROTC.
"How hard do you have to try not to see what is going on?" Stevens said. "Harvard is paying for a program which is discriminatory," he added.
Another factor in the Council's decision was the possible cutoff of ROTC scholarships.
ROTC provides full tuition for most students who enroll, and a source of financial aid would disappear.
Officials have estimated that Harvard would have to make up more than $100,000 in financial aid if the University cut ties with ROTC.
The Council's proposal will not be formally released until next week, but students aware of the decision expressed fear that it marked a step towards the reincorporation of ROTC on the Harvard campus.
"They have been reincorporating ROTC here for a number of years," said Thomas S. Crean '86, president of the Friends of the Spartacist Youth League, which last year helped organize anti-ROTC protests.
But Faculty members said this week that the reimbursement is not a step in bringing ROTC back to Harvard, but instead assures that the controversial organization stay at MIT.