ROTC Decision Nearing

Ending nearly four years of delays, President Neil L. Rudenstine will make a recommendation on University funding for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) to the Faculty at its next meeting on December 13.

Rudenstine said in an interview yesterday that "my intention is to bring something to the Faculty meeting in December and therefore I'm going through a process of consulting with other relevant groups, such as the Faculty Council in a timely way."

Yesterday at a meeting closed to reporters, Rudenstine discussed the ROTC issue before the Faculty Council. Professor of Classics and History Christopher P. Jones, a member of the Faculty Council, said Rudenstine "did present his thoughts on the situation with reference to ROTC."

"The question came up as to whether the situation as it now stands did or did not meet the Faculty's intention as to whether we should or should not continue ROTC," Jones said. "The council expressed its opinion on that subject and on various options that might be exercised."

Harvard currently pays MIT about $120,000 in compensation for about 75 students participating in MIT's ROTC program.

One Faculty Council member who spoke on condition of anonymity said, "There are ways, some of which were discussed today, whereby Harvard could continue to support the continued involvement of students taking ROTC at MIT or possibly at another institution without Harvard's actually anteing up funds."

Such an action would be consistent with a report produced by a Faculty Council committee on ROTC that was chaired by Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53.

The Verba report, issued in October 1992, recommended that the University allow students to continue in MIT's ROTC program, but that Harvard should stop paying MIT the compensation fee.

The Faculty Council had recommended that Harvard's participation in the ROTC program be suspended two years ago. But instead of finalizing the decision when the deadline approached, the Council appointed the committee to examine the issue.

The Faculty then supported the Verba committee report, but Rudenstine decided to delay the decision for a year.

The other option besides maintaining ties with MIT's ROTC program is to cut all ties to ROTC in accordance with the Faculty's official position of opposing any ties to ROTC because of the military's ban on gays.

The decision has been complicated by the possibility that MIT might reconsider the status of its own ROTC program.

An MIT committee will formulate a report on the status of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the Department of Defense in 1995. "Once that report has been presented and reviewed some decision will be made to either continue with ROTC or to sever ties with ROTC," said Sarah E. Gallop, assistant for government relations at MIT.

Harvard has attempted over the last four years to formulate a policy that would reconcile its anti-discrimination pledge with its desire to allow students to participate in ROTC.

"I think the issue is currently coming to a head," Verba said.

Rudenstine will bring the issue before the full Faculty "so that everybody will be able to be fully informed at the same time and the appropriate audiences who need to consider it and read it in a timely way will have to do so," he said.

But Rudenstine's recommendation will not end the debate on ROTC, since any decision must be approved by the Corporation