ROTC

MAIL

To the Editors of The Crimson:

Here we go again. The University has allowed ROTC to meet on campus. A quiet move, a gradual move towards a permanent campus presence? Let's hope not. Nevertheless, the University has officially sanctioned the voice of a group which blatantly compromises the dignity of members of the Harvard community.

While there are many reasons to keep ROTC out of our community (and these should be discussed), the simple fact is that ROTC discriminates. The issue here is the University's own policy on discrimination against students because of sexual orientation. One hopes that the existence of such a policy precludes the need for any discussion on why gays, lesbians and bisexuals should not be discriminated against, yet once more we are asked to explain our position, our need for rights. We are asked to explain our existence. Surely we have gotten beyond this on the Harvard campus. All we should have to do is voice our complaint, pointing out the University's direct contradiction of itself.

In May 1981 the Faculty Council stated that its Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities applies to all members of the Harvard community, regardless of sexual orientation. The statement guarantees "freedom of speech and academic freedom, freedom from personal force and violence, and freedom of movement." It further states, "Interference with any of these freedoms is to be regarded as a serious violation of the personal rights upon which the community is based." No one in the University's Administration seems willing to rescind this statement, and no one denies that ROTC proudly discriminates against students based on sexual orientation. Yet the University continues to allow them to meet on campus.

One wonders about this special allowance for ROTC. Yes, one can view it as a concession to Harvard students who participate in the program, but ROTC is not an officially recognized student extracurricular organization and the University has no obligation to it.

In fact, according to the University's own rules, ROTC can never be an official extracurricular: "Recognized organizations must maintain their local autonomy...the college organization [must make] all policy decisions without obligation to any parent organization" (Handbook for Students, p. 177)--something ROTC can never do.

Yet Dean Jewett has been quoted in the November 3 issue of The Crimson as saying, "ROTC has a right to request campus space on an individual, time-to-time basis like any other activity." Why, one asks? Because Harvard students are involved? No. Fraternities, sororities and final clubs are not allowed to conduct activities on campus even when they involve Harvard students (Handbook for Students, p. 176). So why this direct contradiction of University policy? If Harvard allows ROTC on campus, it has an obligation to permit occasional "final clubs" meetings as well.

Even if we exempt ROTC from this particular policy, saying it applies only to "social organizations," shouldn't Harvard be encouraging the "time-to-time" campus activity of other political or governmental groups? If Harvard students are involved, should we fail to officially sanction the voices of the Ku Klux Klan, of neo-Nazi groups, of McCarthy-like Communist scares? The answer to these questions is obvious. No! We cannot allow this type of behavior to be expressed on our campus. It is a direct attack on the human dignity accorded to all members of the Harvard community.

No one on this campus should be made to feel that he or she is a second-class citizen, and certainly the University should not be the agent which provides this impression. It is time for the administration to affirm its own policies: discrimination on this campus will not be permitted on any basis or by any group or individual. It is time that it issued a statement proclaiming that until ROTC changes its discriminatory policies Harvard will not begin to consider allowing its presence on campus for any reason. It is time that the University says that discrimination supported by the United States government does not qualify as acceptable to the Harvard community. Every member of the Harvard community must be accorded the full and equal dignity guaranteed by this University. Chad Heap '90