Unobtrusive and uncontested, about 100 naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) members held drill on the Harvard campus for the second time in 20 years yesterday afternoon.
While sweater-clad students strolled to classes outside on the leaf-strewn Yard, more than 100 midshippersons in formal Navy blues gathered in Harvard Hall for orders and a weekly officers' address. The drill, usually held at MIT, was mandatory for ROTC members from Harvard, Wellesley College, MIT and Tufts University.
"You get some curious looks, but it's all very friendly," said batallion executive officer Richard G. McGrath, a MIT senior who serves as the unit'ssecond-in-command.
McGrath later chided attendees for fallingasleep during the speech, which concerned safetyand courtesy aboard Navy vessels and was deliveredby Ret. Capt. George Street, a World War IIveteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
For about one hour, the officers in trainingsat in disciplined order in a second-floorclassroom, uniformly shooting up and down toshouted commands of "Stand By" and "Waiting onDeck."
ROTC, whose presence on campus was restrictedby the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1969, lastFebruary with the College's permission obtained aroom to hold a similar, one-time drill. By April,all military services nearly won a chance at fullreturn when the Undergraduate Council voted to urge the faculty to reconsider the ban.
But massive student protest against military discrimination against gays and lesbians led the council to overturn the decision. The facultynever debated the issue.
While virtually no College students outside the program knew of the ROTC activity yesterday,responses of those who found out later ranged from apathy to vehemence.
"I think if we're going to have it back, then let's have it back," said Evan B. Rauch '92,council secretary. "But you're going to have a hard time finding people who care one way or theother," said Rauch, who was a member of the majority that originally called for ROTC's return.
But Thomas M. Lauderdale '92, a member of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association,said, "I'm sure had it been publicized there would have been a complete uproar."
Navy participants downplayed the drill's significance.
"Nobody really talked about it beforehand,"said Christina L. Ulses '90, Harvard's Navy ROTC public affairs officer. Ulses also noted that the drill was a single event unrelated to further activity.
Similarly, none seemed aware of strong campus reactions one way or the other.
ROTC also holds an annual drill at Tufts. Both meetings are held partly to show MIT members the annoyance of a daily commute.
"It's good to understand what others are going through," said Chris M. Rein, an MIT sophomore and squad leader. "Someone next door to me was complaining today about going to Harvard. I guess you get spoiled when drill is only 50 feet from the dorm," Rein said