ROTC Bills Stalled in Senate Committee

Amendments Would Cut Funds to Schools That Refuse to Allow Corps Programs

Threats to slash federal funding to colleges and universities that refuse to allow the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on campus have bogged down in the Senate and do not appear likely to resurface this year.

Since this spring, Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-N.Y.) has introduced a series of amendments in four House bills calling for the end of first Department of Defense (DOD) and now civilian research funds to such schools.

The amendments would only affect schools where the DOD wants to create or maintain a program and the school refuses. Because Harvard ROTC cadets participate in MIT's program, experts say the University is not likely to be affected regardless of the fate of these bills.

While these initiatives have fared well in the House thus far, Senate sources tell The Crimson that they are not likely to go anywhere on the other side of the Hill due to major structural problems with the bills in which the ROTC clauses are embedded.

Bill R. Teator, a spokesperson for Solomon, says he was, in fact, hopeful about the fate of the ROTC clauses in the Senate because of the support of senators such as Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

However, according to Thurmond spokesperson Chris Kelley Cimko, the Senate version of the bill authorizing DOD spending for fiscal 1997 does not contain a ROTC clause similar to the one in the House version.

In fact, Cimko says that to her knowledge, no member of Thurmond's staff has been contacted by anyone from the House suggesting such legislation.

She speculates that Solomon's amendments may just be an attempt to test the waters for the future.

The MIT Proposal

Closer to home, the MIT compromise proposal for gay ROTC cadets unveiled to much fanfare this spring, has been well-received.

MIT faculty, students and alums have sent letters by the hundreds expressing their support, according to MIT spokesperson Sarah E. Gallop.

In fact, the only group that has not poured forth its support for the plan is the DOD. Gallop says MIT officials gave the government a copy of the revised proposal late this spring, but said the DOD has not responded.

The ROTC proposal, adopted almost unanimously by the MIT faculty, calls for changes in the ROTC program so that openly gay students can participate as undergraduates but not be commissioned after graduation.

Critics say the proposal is untenable, noting that since these cadets would not be able to become officers, neither the military nor prospective cadets would have any incentive to participate in the program.

But MIT is still hopeful that the report will result in improvements to its ROTC program, Gallop says. Several of the proposed changes could be implemented internally without outside authorization, she says.

As for the bulk of the proposal--that which would run counter to the DOD policy--MIT is taking a more cautious approach, she says.

"We're trying to put together a strategy to launch changes and talk to the DOD," Gallop says. "We're taking it one step at a time. It's a...complex process, and we want to carry out our actions appropriately.

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