Despite recent complaints from student activists and the Undergraduate Council, the commissioning ceremony for Harvard members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) was held as usual on the steps of Memorial Church yesterday.
Captain Michael L. McHugh, professor of Naval science at MIT, administered the oath of office to 16 students who were appointed either second lieutenant in the Army, Air Force or Marine Corps or ensign in the Navy.
The graduating seniors sitting under a tent in front of Memorial Church listened to a short address by Walter Amory '46, a retired Naval first lieutenant and the head of Amory Engineers, a Duxbury-based civil engineering firm.
Amory reminded the newly commissioned officers to honor the Constitution in their future careers.
Although family and friends in the audience thought only of their pride in the graduates today, the commissioning ceremony has been the source of conflict on campus this semester.
A compromise in February 1995 between the University and critics of the military's discriminatory policy against gays was resolved with the establishment of a trust fund by ROTC alumni.
The alumni fund allowed the University to disassociate itself from any direct financial support of ROTC.
The first major opposition to the presence of ROTC on campus was in 1969, when students protested that the University was endorsing militaristic behavior in a place of education by allowing ROTC members to use University funds and facilities.
The student activism of 1969 eventually led the University to require ROTC participants to take their ROTC courses at MIT without Harvard credit.
The latest chapter in this saga occurred earlier this spring. On March 17, the Undergraduate Council voted to have the ROTC ceremony moved from the Yard. The Council demanded that the event be held off-campus, citing its disapproval of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the military as the reason for the resolution.
Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 vetoed the Council's bill, arguing that the 1985 compromise had effectively eliminated the influence of ROTC on campus.
"This bill...is basically a request that I oppose the compromise announced by then-acting president Carnesale," Lewis said.
After the 1969 move of classes and activities to MIT and last year's financial separation from the University, Harvard ROTC's last connection with the University itself is the commissioning ceremony, which at least for now remains intact.
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