Faculty Votes to Stop Paying MIT for ROTC

Decision May Prevent Students From Joining Program

After a lengthy debate and two motions to delay the vote, the Faculty yesterday approved the recommendations of the 1992 report on the status of ROTC, which may prevent Harvard students from joining MIT ROTC activities.

One of the report's recommendations calls for the University to "stop paying the MIT fee" for Harvard students to participate in the program.

If the MIT policy does not change, there is "some likelihood" Harvard students would not be allowed to participate in the MIT ROTC program if Harvard stopped paying the fee, said Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53, who chaired the ROTC committee.

President Neil L. Rudenstine said MIT and the Department of Defense asked to delay discussions of the issue until after an expected move by the Clinton administration this summer regarding the ban on gays in the military.

The report, first issued by the University committee on ROTC last November, was brought to the Faculty by Professor of English and Comparative Literature Barbara E. Johnson.

The purpose was to "reaffirm clearly and explicitly our own position against discrimination in the University," she said, and the motion was timed to provide a "counter-weight to the implicit endorsement of General [Colin L.] Powell's stance by the University." Powell, who chairs the Joint Chiefs of Staff and has defended the military's policy on gays, is Harvard's Commencement speaker this year.

But a number of professors objected to the report's recommendations and the timing of the Faculty's vote.

"I feel it is most unfortunate this motion comes at this time," said Lee Professor of Economics Hendrick S. Houthakker. "This motion might well be interpreted as a slap in the face for the invited Commencement speaker."

The report also "opens up a new area of discrimination, namely against those students who take part in ROTC," who rely on ROTC funding to pay some of their tuition, he said.

Houthakker motioned that the proposal be delayed until next year. The motion was voted down.

Thomson Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53 also objected to the report and the timing of the vote. Reading from a letter from Katherine F. Pearson '93, Mansfield raised concerns about the ability of some students participating in ROTC to pay the full tuition.

Quoting former President Derek C. Bok, he also questioned the appropriateness of Harvard's involvement in political questions.

"Sooner or later, governments or corporations will...begin exerting pressure of their own," he quoted. "Universities stand to lose much more than they have to gain."

Mansfield later motioned to delay the vote on the ROTC report's recommendations until next fall but was voted down.

Mansfield's concern about the University taking political stances was echoed by other faculty members.

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