WASHINGTON, D.C.--The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure last month that would eliminate Defense Department funding of universities with "anti-ROTC policies."
Some inside the Beltway say it appears that Harvard, which booted the ROTC program off campus more than two decades ago, would be in violation of the language of the measure, jeopardizing the $12 million in research monies the University receives from the Defense Department each year.
The House approved the measure in support of ROTC last month as an amendment to the Fiscal 1996 Defense Authorization Bill. The amendment passed decisively, by a vote of 302-125. The House approved the bill several days later by a vote of 300-126.
During debate on the amendment, several representatives singled out Harvard for criticism.
"Currently, dozens of colleges and universities across this country, including the prestigious ones such as Harvard and Yale, blatantly discriminate against students willing to serve their country, and it is so aggravating to this member," said Rep. Gerald H. Solomon (R-N.Y.), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.).
The ROTC scholarship provides significant financial aid to students who make a commitment to enter the military upon leaving college.
Harvard ended its on-campus ROTC program in 1970 in response to anti-war demonstrations. Students continue in the ROTC program at MIT, just a few miles down the Charles River.
But the House-approved measure defines ananti-ROTC policy as one which "I) prohibits, or ineffect prevents, the secretary of defense frommaintaining or establishing a unit of the senior[ROTC] at that institution, or 2) prohibits, or ineffect prevents, a student at that institutionfrom enrolling in a unit of ROTC at anotherinstitution of higher education."
Congressional aides to two of therepresentatives who supported the bill said thatHarvard would certainly be subject to the measure.
And another member of Congress, Rep. JackKingston (R-Ga.), specifically pointed to Harvardas an "offending university" during debate on theHouse floor.
University officials say they are not sure thatthe bill applies to Harvard's ROTC program.
Kevin Casey, a lawyer and Harvard's director offederal and state relations, said yesterday thatthe language was somewhat ambiguous.
He pointed to the two requirements of the billas somewhat difficult.
"It would seem to me in my quick reading of itthat you would not need the second ifyou were justintending to accomplish...the first," Casey said.
Casey said he would try to work with the Senateto "see if we can come up with some languageto...accommodate Mr. Solomon's efforts andHarvard's policy."