Lewis Vetoes Plan to Ban ROTC Ceremony

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 has vetoed a recent Undergraduate Council resolution to ban the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) from holding its commissioning ceremonies in Harvard Yard.

The resolution requests that Lewis oppose a compromise which terminated the University's financial support of the ROTC program but continues to permit the commissioning ceremony to be held in the Yard.

"This bill...is basically a request that I oppose the compromise announced by then-Acting-President Carnesale at the February 14, 1995 meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences," Lewis wrote in a letter Wednesday to council President Robert M. Hyman '98-'97 explaining his reasons for the veto.

"As far as I am aware, neither the sponsors of the U.C. bill nor any letters I have received since the bill was passed have raised matters that had not been considered during [the] deliberations [which led to the compromise]," the letter added.

The council's resolution, which passed last month by a vote of 30 to 20, also requests that the College omit any mention of the ceremony in official Commencement week programs.

The resolution further calls for the council to send a letter protesting ROTC's discriminatory policies against gay, lesbian and bisexual Harvard students to Congress, President Clinton and the ROTC program.

Supporters of the resolution said they hope that its suggestions will not be misconstrued as a punitive measure against ROTC cadets.

"We really appreciate the students who go into the ROTC program," Hyman said. "But there are too many reasons to justify moving the commissioning ceremony off campus."

University officials do not deny that the ROTC program's admission policies are discriminatory.

"We understand that [the federal government's policy regarding ROTC] is discriminatory and if we could change it we would," Provost Albert Carnesale said in an interview yesterday. "But given that, it would be a greater wrong to preclude those students who choose to participate in the ROTC program from doing so."

Questions regarding the ROTC commissioning ceremony were initially raised in the 1992 report of the Committee on the Status of ROTC, which was chaired by Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53.

But Verba himself says he is satisfied with the current circumstances as defined by the 1995 compromise.

"The important point is that the University is not an official [financial] supporter of ROTC," Verba said. "And this strikes me as a not unreasonable compromise in an area where there is no perfect solution."

And although reactions have been mixed since the implementation of the compromise, a number of ROTC cadets say they are satisfied with the current situation.

"No cadet's participation was actually affected by the [compromise] so as far as I'm concerned..., as long as the people who were pushing for change are satisfied, it was a perfect solution," said Army ROTC cadet Joshua M. Simer '97.

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