In a debate pitting principle against pragmatism, faculty members yesterday challenged President Neil L. Rudenstine's recent compromise on ROTC and reaffirmed their opposition to Harvard's involvement in the program.
Two weeks' ago, Rudenstine released a report recommending that unsolicited alumni donors pay the annual $130,000 fee for Harvard students' participation in the ROTC program at MIT.
Faculty members said yesterday, however, that Rudenstine's compromise violates the Faculty's vote from more than a year ago to completely cut Harvard funding of ROTC if the military continued to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Because the ROTC funds will still go to Harvard and be administered by the University, many professors said they believe Rudenstine's declaration of change is illusory.
"Support of ROTC is inconsistent with Harvard's non-discrimination policy," Professor of Philosophy Warren D. Goldfarb '69 said at yesterday's meeting. "We're changing only the Harvard account through which funds flow."
Goldfarb brought along dozens of copies of a resolution to reaffirm the faculty's earlier statement to stop paying the fee to MIT beginning with the Class of 1999. Although no official count of the subsequent straw vote was taken, approximately 65 percent of professors voted in favor of Goldfarb's resolution.
Asked by McKay Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis '68 if voting for the resolution meant voting against Rudenstine's decision, Goldfarb flatly said "yes."
The resolution also said Harvard should no longer allow ROTC commissioning ceremonies to be held on its grounds. It also recommended that "current and prospective students" should be given "full notice about ROTC discrimination and restriction on free expression, the University's policy, and available information about the future of the program."
Many faculty members yesterday addressed their remarks to the absent Rudenstine and the Harvard Corporation, the governing body which will decide whether to accept Rudenstine's recommendations. They largely ignored Acting President Albert Carnesale, who was sitting directly before them and is charged with all of the president's duties.
Two weeks ago, Rudenstine took an indefinite leave of medical absence, leaving Carnesale to chair yesterday's meeting.
Fifteen faculty members spoke on the topic, an unusually large number for one subject at a Harvard faculty meeting.
Some wondered whether the debate itself would have any effect at all.
"The Corporation is no doubt going to overrule us," said Professor of Sociology Theda Skocpol. "It won't be the first time, and it won't be the last time."
Even if the Faculty were to pass a formal vote against Rudenstine's recommendation, the final decision still lies with the Corporation.