Council Endorses Return of ROTC

Recent Undergraduate Council meetings have barely attracted a quorum of members. It was difficult to find a seat, though, at last night's debate of a bill supporting the return of the Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC).

The legislation, which endorses working with the administration to welcome ROTC back to campus passed at last night's council meeting, ending more than three weeks of acrimonious debate.

ROTC cadets and midshipmen along with members of and the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance showed up at the meeting in full force to enjoy two-and-a-half hours of debate. (For a record of the roll call vote, see page 11.)

"There's a lot of people here, so they can't all be UC members," Council President Noah Z. Seton '00 commented as the room filled.

The bill's sponsors, Aurelio Torre '00, Brian R. Smith '02 and Bradley L. Davis '01, warded off hundreds of angry e-mails and phone calls in the days following the proposal from students who see ROTC's return as an endorsement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

But debate at the meeting was civil as the council considered several amendmentsdesigned to "depoliticize" the bill.

Torre, Smith and Davis, who also sponsored acompromise amendment, asked the council to look atthe legislation as a student service.

"This isn't an issue of left, this isn't anissue of right.... This is an issue of studentservices," Torre said in his introduction.

"I find it strange that we hold students inROTC responsible for this policy," Torre said,asking council members to stop "punishing" ROTCstudents for a policy they had no hand increating.

Davis said he hoped the council could find a"middle ground" between the warring camps.

"There is a way to work with these students andrespect what they do without breaking Harvard'snon-discrimination policies," he said.

Amendments to the bill included providingshuttle service for cadets and midshipmen to MITand re-attaching Harvard's name to the ROTC alumnitrust that currently pays for Harvard students toparticipate in the program off campus.

Torre said the amendment softened the regularbill by not specifically endorsing the program.

"It's basically designed to make a moreROTC-friendly campus," he said.

Council members on both sides of the debatepresented successive amendments, arriving at abill the sponsors said addressed the concerns ofboth students in ROTC and those worried aboutdiscrimination.

Recommended Articles