MIT Faculty Ask ROTC Program To Admit Gays

Proposal Calls for Pressure on Military

In a move which would allow Harvard students who are gay to participate in ROTC, the MIT faculty proposed Wednesday that its ROTC program admit members regardless of sexual orientation.

The proposal urges school officials to press the Department of Defense for a ROTC program which would not discriminate against gay students. Under the three-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" Pentagon policy which the MIT ROTC program abides by, openly gay students cannot serve in the U.S. military.

Harvard, which has not had a ROTC program since 1970, sends its students to MIT's 221-student program.

Harvard stopped funding its students' participation in MIT's ROTC program in 1994 after concerns that Harvard was violating its non-discrimination policy by paying the ROTC fee.

The fee is now paid out of a separate alumni fund.

In the proposal, MIT faculty members called for a more inclusive program "better aligned with other university policies."

The proposal, which must now pass through the administration and trustee levels, includes a campus ROTC program open to all students and a promise to replace financial aid lost by any student removed from ROTC because of sexual orientation.

Even if the proposal is enacted, though, an openly gay ROTC cadet would not be eligible for further military advancement after graduation unless the Department of Defense changes its policy on homosexuals.

In the spring of 1990, David E.Carney '89, a Harvard navy cadet, was discharged from the military after revealing that he was gay. But the military also requested that he return the scholarship money he received by participating in the program, creating an uproar on campus.

MIT's proposed policy would prevent this from happening again by allowing gays to serve in the ROTC program and guaranteeing their financial aid.

The status of ROTC is especially important for MIT because a new federal law would prevent schools which do not allow ROTC programs from receiving funds from the U.S. military. The Department of Defense is currently MIT's third largest contributor, donating $56 million dollars per year, according to an MIT spokesperson.

Harvard originally eliminated its on-campus ROTC program in 1970 after student protests of the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

Pearson Professor of Modern Mathematics Warren D. Goldfarb '69, a self-described "major player" in the decision to end direct University funding of ROTC two years ago, said last night that the MIT proposal is "well-meaning but wrong-minded."

Goldfarb, who is a faculty advisor to the Harvard Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Student Association (BGLSA), said he thought that the MIT faculty's decision had little chance of affecting the ROTC program and that it did not adequately confront the discriminatory Pentagon policy.

"[The proposal] attempts to do the impossible," Goldfarb said. "There's no way anything but a complete reversal of the Department of Defense's [anti-gay] policy can be non-discriminatory."

More Optimistic

BGLSA co-chair Nadia P. Croes '98 was more optimistic, calling the MIT faculty vote "a baby step" in the right direction.

She said that if students were happy with the proposal then she would endorse it, but school officials "should not lose sight of the broader discrimination by the military."

Even if the Department of Defense allowed campuses some slack in ROTC admission policies, Goldfarb said that the program could not return to Harvard because the instructors must be on Harvard's faculty

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