Dartmouth Decides To Maintain ROTC Ties

College Opposes Gov't Policy on Gays

Dartmouth College will keep the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps program on its Hanover, N.H., campus.

But the Dartmouth Board of Trustees, in voting to maintain its ROTC program, said last week that it will pressure the Department of Defense to stop discriminating against gays.

The board deplored the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy enacted by the Clinton Administration last year, saying it places schools in an unacceptable situation.

"The policy forces Dartmouth, as well as other colleges and universities, to make an unconscionable choice as to which students they wish to disadvantage, said a statement released by the board.

Harvard does not have ROTC on campus, but its students can participate in MIT's program.

Like Dartmouth, the University has maintained its ties to ROTC at the same time that it states its opposition to the military's policy on gays.

Both Harvard and Dartmouth say they want their students to be able to participate in the military program. But they also want an officers' training program that does not discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation.

The Dartmouth board said in its statement that it might join court cases challenging the gay ban and might try to pressure the White House, Congress and military leaders.

"The trustees believe that American society is in a period of transition that will ultimately lead it to embrace full and equal participation of homosexuals in the military," the statement said. "President Clinton's attempt to change military policy, while not wholly successful, has nonetheless accelerated this development. The trustees now commit Dartmouth College to helppush the transition forward."

ROTC at Dartmouth was phased out during theVietnam war, but the Army program was reinstatedin 1985.

Four years ago, Dartmouth President James O.Freedman called on the Pentagon to drop its ban ongays.

"The security interests of the Unites Statesare best served by public policies that assure asupply of talented officers from our colleges anduniversities and that the public regards as fairand appropriate," Freedman wrote at the time.

"In my judgment, the Department of Defense'spolicy of discriminating against homosexuals inROTC, at a time when all other forms of invidiousdiscrimination have been prohibited, puts both ofthese goals at risk."

This story was compiled using AssociatedPress wire dispatches.