Despite Policy Change, ROTC Future Uncertain

The question of ROTC's status at Harvard remains unresolved despite a vote of the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences last spring, and officials and faculty members are unsure exactly what will happen next.

The Clinton administration's new policy on gays in the military has only created more questions, and one of Harvard's longest-running controversies--which just last May seemed to be moving toward closure--may surface with renewed vigor this year, according to professors outspoken on the issue last year.

"I think people are ready to fight about it," said Professor of Philosophy Warren D. Goldfarb '69. Disappointment in the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy and its failure to effectively change the military's stance "has made people rather aggressive about it," he said.

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles said this week he expects further discussion of ROTC by the full Faculty and by the remaining members of the 1992 University Committee on the Status of ROTC. The Faculty last year voted to endorse the committee's recommendations, which called for ceasing to pay MIT in 1994 for Harvard ROTC cadets enrolled there.

But the committee has lost four student members to graduation and three faculty members to leaves of absence, and though it has discussed the question informally, it "has no specific plans for getting together," said its chair, Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53.

"The committee has been disbanded," Verba said."It violates double jeopardy to testify again."

Goldfarb said he would like to see a new reportgo to the full Faculty this year, and he said ifno action is taken on ROTC, he believes therecould be a strong faculty reaction.

But neither Goldfarb nor Professor ofAfro-American Studies and of Philosophy K. AnthonyAppiah, who was outspoken on ROTC last year, knowof any organized faculty plan to protest on theissue.

"If the president requests our opinions, we'lloffer them to him," Appiah said.

Appiah feels unequivocally that the "don't ask,don't tell, don't pursue" policy is no improvementon the military's stance on gays. "The currentpolicy is in some ways worse because it explicitlyrestricts speech," he said.

The U.S. Senate is currently debating aslightly different version of the policy shaped bythe Department of Defense. Several court cases onthe issue are also ongoing, which could have aneffect on the policy's final formulation.

Knowles said officials are closely followingpolicy changes in Washington, and furtherUniversity action will depend on the pace ofchange nationally