We Asked, They Told

Daniel G. Punt '99, a Navy midshipman, has listened to the Undergraduate Council debate to bring ROTC back to campus.

He thinks it's absurd.

"It wouldn't work. There aren't enough ROTC students to make it possible," Punt said. Even if ROTC returned, he said, there are so few students in the program right now--50 total--that they would continue to train at MIT.

Punt says he feels dictating change to an established organization such as the military is no business of the council.

"It's vaguely analogous to the U.C. drafting a bill to make the Opportunes into a 40 person choir," he said. "Is this in the U.C.'s purview? I really don't think so."

But others in ROTC, also speaking personally--not as representatives from their time-consuming extracurricular, see the current debate cut to the heart of their Harvard experience. It raises questions of whether they feel truly supported on campus--and forces them to consider how something they've devoted so much time to can elicit such strong feelings from their peers.

Far beyond simply bemoaning the commute across Cambridge, some cadets and midshipmen say they are being both glorified and vilified by various interests. Council members sponsoring the bill have presented the debate as a matter of respect for ROTC participants, suggesting that opponents are dishonoring those who serve their country.

Legislation opponents see the issue in terms of intolerance against gay students, claiming bill endorsers are implicitly turning a blind eye toward discrimination.

It is the cadets and midshipmen, rarely consulted on the issue, who see the gray area in the debate-- implicated in the system as much as they question it.

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