Groups Pressure Rudenstine to Dump ROTC

Report by Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Organizations Anticipates Dec. 13 Decision

After years of what they call University foot-dragging, several bisexual, gay and lesbian groups have formed a task force to pressure the Harvard administration to finally cut ties to ROTC.

Created one month ago, the Committee to End Discrimination by Harvard has so far written to President Neil L. Rudenstine and produced informational pamphlets on the issue.

The new committee is rallying even as a decision is finally expected in the long-running ROTC debate. Rudenstine last week said he will recommend a new policy on December 13.

The groups forming the committee include the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA), the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus Alumni Group and gay and lesbian organizations of four of Harvard's graduate schools, according to Tom A. Gerace '93, the chair of the committee.

The roughly 20-member committee consists of alumni, the leaders of the different campus groups and two faculty members, Professor of Philosophy Warren D. Goldfarb '69 and Professor of Afro-American Studies and of Philosophy K. Anthony Appiah.

"It was created because we realized that last year when the first deadline in the Verba report passed Neil Rudenstine took no action," Gerace said. "As the final deadline is fast approaching we felt it necessary to remind the University that it was continuing to support discrimination against lesbian, bisexual and gay students, and time for action was long overdue."

The Verba report was issued in October 1992, by a Faculty Council Committee on ROTC chaired by Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53. Last year, the report was endorsed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

The report recommended that the University allow students to continue in MIT's ROTC program, but that Harvard stop funding the program. Originally, the report set a deadline of fall 1994 for cutting the fee, but Harvard has still not acted on the recommendation.

But the Committee to End Discrimination by Harvard is concerned "that the Rudenstine administration may be trying to use a small technical loophole in the Verba report to avoid the spirit of what the report says," Gerace said.

Gerace said committee members fear Harvard may try to pay the fee through another outlet, instead of FAS, thus avoiding the report's requirement through a loophole.

"Our committee's primary goal is to make sure that the University understands that any support of ROTC--whether through financial support, the offering of University facilities or the inclusion in ceremonies--violates Harvard's non-discriminatory policy," Gerace said. But "individual students" should be able to participate and accept scholarship money," he said.

"We call on Neil Rudenstine to make the moral choice--to honor Harvard's non-discrimination policy and end all forms of University support of a group that discriminates against lesbian, bisexual and gay students," he said.

Rudenstine, however, did not give the committee the meeting members requested in their October 31 letter to him. The letter was signed by several bisexual, gay and lesbian student group leaders as well as David Carney '89, a student dismissed from ROTC in 1989 for being gay.

In his reply, dated November 15, 1994, Rudenstine thanked the committee for the letter, but would not comment substantially, "since I plan to have a further report on ROTC for the entire community in the near future."

The committee is now in a wait-and-see mode, members said.