Faculty Discussion Over ROTC Heated

Mansfield Provokes Lengthy Debate

A Faculty discussion of the ROTC committee report yesterday turned into a lengthy, and sometimes heated, debate about "political correctness" and the University's role in political issues.

Thomson Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield Jr., an outspoken conservative on a primarily liberal faculty, launched the controversy at the monthly meeting when he questioned the University's right to involve itself in the ROTC debate.

ROTC Committee Chair Sidney Verba '53 began the discussion by describing the committee's recommendation. The report suggests that Harvard should stop payments to the MIT-based ROTC units, but should continue to accept ROTC scholarship funds.

Verba, who is Pforzheimer university professor, noted that MIT might not accept the Harvard compromise. In that case, he said, Harvard students enrolled in the program would be forced to end their participation.

Verba also defended the report's completion in an election year. If President-elect Bill Clinton sticks to his campaign promises and ends the military's ban on gays, Verba said, Harvard's stand on ROTC may well be irrelevant.

Mansfield criticized the committee--and by extension, the University--for attempting to tackle a political issue at all.

"We got involved in a partisan way," Mansfield said. He said the report gives "the impression that on this issue, all decent people are on one side."

Mansfield said Harvard selectively ignores other issues of government involvement and discrimination.

"Harvard University is by law a collection agency of the Internal Revenue Service. What about that?" he said. "Gays and lesbians do not get a marriage deduction according to the tax code. What about that?"

He chided the committee for what he called an unscholarly approach to the ROTC question. "Our purpose is inquiry intothe truth," he said. "Our purpose is not toimprove society."

Weary Professor of German and ComparativeLiterature Judith L. Ryan chastised Mansfield forthe "casting of slurs."

Mansfield's comments, Ryan said, "seems to meto bear more signs of prejudice and to be muchmore heavily politicized."

When Ryan spoke of slur-casting, Professor ofEducation and Social Structure Nathan Glazer'shand shot into the air.

Glazer approached the microphone to defend whatthe called Mansfield's legitimate concerns, and tochide Ryan for introducing improper rhetoric.

And Professor of English and ComparativeLiterature James Engell, a member of the ROTCcommittee, said he was not offended by Mansfield'scomments.

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