On ROTC, No Faculty Unanimity

News Analysis

A year ago, the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) voted to recommend that Harvard cut financial ties to the ROTC program, affirming a report stating that the status quo needed a change.

Two weeks ago, President Neil L. Rudenstine proposed a compromise solution in which alumni would fund ROTC.

Critics have charged that the proposal would not end Harvard's participation in a discriminatory program.

But for many professors, Rudenstine's compromise is enough of a solution to garner their support, although it does not fully end the University's financial ties to MIT's ROTC program. Harvard will establish and administer the proposed alumni fund.

With the Faculty split over the compromise, it may not be able to significantly influence the Corporation, Harvard's senior governing body, which must ultimately decide the issue.

Rudenstine's report recommends that alumni donate money that Harvard would use to pay MIT the annual $130,000 fee for Harvard students participation in ROTC.

About 65 percent of professors at Tuesday's Faculty meeting voted in favor of reaffirming the FAS call for the University to stop paying the ROTC fee, starting with the Class of 1999.

The resolution, written by Professor of Philosophy Warren D. Goldfarb '69, did not explicity condemn Rudenstine's compromise.

McKay Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis '68 asked Goldfarb seconds before the vote whether voting for the resolution meant voting against Rudenstine's decision.

Goldfarb responded with a flat "yes," but some professors who said they supported Rudenstine's compromise still voted for Goldfarb's resolution.

A number of professors who spoke--including Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes--said they supported Rudenstine's proposal with reluctance.

Several have said they want Harvard students to continue to participate in ROTC, but do not understand why the University must control the funds that alumni donate.

One professor who did not want to be named said after the meeting that the Faculty is squarely behind Rudenstine's compromise.

Asked why a significant number of professors who spoke at Tuesday's meeting were against the proposal, he said those opposed to compromise had more reason to speak than those who support it.

"Those are the people who care strongly about anti-discrimination," he said. "For us who like [Rudenstine's] statement, there was less reason to speak out."