Council May Consider Tabling ROTC Debate

The Undergraduate Council may consider postponing further discussion of Reserve Officers Training Corps' return to Harvard until next year, members of the Services and the Academics Committees said in an informal meeting Monday night.

In a non-binding vote, the two committees jointly recommended that the council pass a resolution introduced by Frank E. Lockwood '89 that would remove all discussion of ROTC from next week's meeting, the last of the year. Neither committee was able to pass a binding resolution because not enough members were present.

Last Sunday's council meeting erupted into chaos when student protesters charged that the body was trying to stifle debate on the ROTC issue. But committee members said yesterday that it would be best to let next year's representatives introduce any ROTC resolutions they feel are appropriate.

"Sometimes it's better to walk away than stay the distance," said Helen M. Gould '90, vice-chair of the Services Committee. She said that pushing the issue further could "destroy the Undergraduate Council" and leave "a bad taste in the mouth of everybody."

On Sunday, the council narrowly voted to repeal its resolution calling on Harvard to work toward reinstating ROTC, without academic credit.

The resolution was overturned on the grounds that it violates a clause in the council's constitution that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The military does not allow gays and lesbians to serve in its ranks.

But council Chair Kenneth E. Lee '89 was forced to adjourn the meeting early when a single protester roused the overflow crowd into a noisy demonstration.

Leaders of the Anti-ROTC Action Committee(ARAC), which was involved in the demonstration,said Sunday night that they want the council topostpone debate until next year when the issue canbe studied more carefully.

Members are still discussing how therepresentative body should respond to disruptionsin parliamentary procedure.

Some council members who attended Monday'sjoint committee meeting said that the council makeshould make a better effort to publicizecontroversial council debates.

If the council had been "more aware" and"educated from beginning to be wary of theseissues [like the call for ROTC], it would havestopped a lot of what happened," said Lori L.Outzs '91, chair of the Academics Committee.

Many council members said that the disruptionof Sunday's meeting was an isolated event. Severalsaid that future councils should try to inform thestudent body of upcoming votes on controversialissues, rather than changing meeting procedures.

Vice Chair Noam Bramson '91 said that thedisruption was inevitable, given the nature of thedebate.

"I can't imagine it not [getting] out of hand,"Bramson said. He added that the debate "over-allwent rather well," and that there was "no reasonto change anything."

Last Sunday, Lee said that he did not intend tochange the council's procedures.