ROTC Compromise Lacks Principles

To The Editors:

I was dismayed, but not surprised, by President Neil L. Rudenstine's recent recommendation concerning ROTC ("Report Upholds ROTC Tis, But Without Direct Funding," news story, Dec. 1). Using alumni contributions to pay the ROTC for merely continues the administration's history of avoiding and glossing over trouble-some issues. Rudenstine postponed his decision for ever four years while Harvard's students were forced to help fund a program that discriminates against the gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of its community.

Though student tuition money will no longer be used to pay for ROTC, Harvard's continued involvement with the program demonstrates the administration's lack of courage. Rudenstine believes that severing ties with ROTC would not affect the military's policies; but at the same time, his report cites, the benefit of having graduates of top universities in the military.

If Harvard were brave enough to terminate its ROTC affiliations, perhaps the military would miss those outstanding graduates. Though, a Rudenstine says, "there does not appear to be any likelihood" of immediate national change, we can at least strive for equality within the University.

Professor of History James Hankins expresses a popular concern for the "people who are going to suffer if there's no ROTC at Harvard." The approximately 70 students on ROTC scholarships might indeed be left without support. Unfortunately, a far greater number of students are currently denied ROTC benefits simply because of their sexual orientation.

Harvard has yet to address the embarrassing truth that underlies the ROTC debate: if the military discriminated against heterosexuals, Harvard would long ago have served its ROTC ties. President Rudenstine's recommendation, though touted as a creative compromise, is just a creative way to conceal a compromise of principles. --Laurie Pane '97