When the Academics Committee voted last week, 11-2, to recommend that the Undergraduate Council call on Harvard and the military to bring Reserve Officer Training Corps back to campus, they did not debate the fact that the military discriminates against gays and lesbians, members said last night.
"There was really no discussion on the issues of homosexuality or constitutionality," said Lori Outzs '91, who chairs the committee. She added that the debate centered on how bringing the military to Harvard would provide more scholarships for ROTC students.
Outzs said that many committee members did not really understand the complex issues involved with ROTC when they voted to send the resolution to the council.
"I think that the committee realized their ignorance and lack of full understanding," she said.
But she added that she was unclear whether the resolution was sent with the committee's recommendation, and that sending the issue to council was a way of monitoring student opinion on the subject.
"The resolution came forward as a way to [discover] student opinion," she said.
Opponents of the resolution--which the council approved Sunday night--charged that the motion violates the council constitution which prohibits the body from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
The United States armed forces do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military.
Last week's committee vote came within days of the 20th anniversary of the siege of University Hall, during which more than 400 students occupied the building to insist that Harvard sever all ties with the military training organization.
Some committee members said the political climate had changed so much since then that a reversal of the 1969 changes was appropriate--despite the symbolic importance of the anniversary.
"Students at Harvard today are more mature--able to look at the substance of issues rather than the symbolism," said Joel D. Hornstein '92, one of two ROTC students who proposed the council resolution.
Outzs said she thought that the week of the anniversary was a perfect time to raise the ROTC issue.
"We decided it might be a good time to bring it up because people were thinking about it," Outzs said. "It was a time when students actually cared about it. We wanted students to debate it," she added.
Origins of the Issue
But amid the council's resounding approval of the measure, committee members offered conflicting stories on how the resolution was introduced, and on what role--if any--Harvard administrators played in planning the resolution.