The Undergraduate Council passed a resolution, 30-20, last night asking the University to ban the annual Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Commencement Week commissioning ceremony from the Yard because of the Armed Services' discriminatory position toward homosexuals.
The council also asked that the ceremony not be listed in Commencement Week programs.
The issue was very controversial with passionate supporters on both sides.
Supporters of the resolution pointed out that allowing ROTC to have the ceremony in the Yard implies an endorsement of the program and is in violation of the University's anti-discriminatory policy.
"It's not an issue of patriotism, but of the University maintaining a strong stance against discrimination," said Joshua L. Oppenheimer '97, the political chair of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA).
"It's about being denied the right, the honor and the moral duty to serve the country which we live in," he said.
In recent years, five students have been removed from ROTC because of their sexual orientation, Oppenheimer said.
The ROTC program has not been on the Harvard campus since 1969. Harvard students in ROTC must go to MIT for their classes and activities.
Their scholarships are not funded by the University, but by a special alumni fund.
However, a significant minority of council members said the resolution will needlessly harm ROTC students who have no control over the military's policies.
"[It's an] act of stigmitization to those who most merit our praise," said Eric M. Nelson '99, who is a Crimson editor.
"Harvard has treated [ROTC students] as if they were lepers. It's a slap in the face of every undergraduate who still values honor, duty and country," said John Applebaum '97.
The resolution also asks the University to reinstate the ROTC program when the military no longer discriminates against homosexuals.
The bill falls under the Grimmelman-Nelson Act and will be sent to Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 for approval, veto or return with suggested amendments. Lewis has two weeks to consider the bill.
In additional business, Director of Dining Services Michael P. Berry addressed the council's concerns about the decision to replace Coke with Pepsi in the dining halls.
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