Panelists Debate Return of ROTC to Campus

The most hatesd policy debate on campus raged on last night at a panel discussion asking "Should ROTC return to Harvard?"

The debate, sponsored by Diversity and Distinction, comes in the midst of an ongoing debate about a bill before the Undergraduate Councilendrosing bringing the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program back to campus.

The legislation will come before a full council vote a full council vote their meeting this Sunday. When the bil was first docketed, many constitudents voiced disapporval at a bill they saw as endorsing discrimination against gay students.

ROTC was banned from campus in 1969, with Harvard students involved in ROTC taking classes at MIT instead. In 1994, because officals felt the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards gays violated the University's non-discrimination policies "Iwas really dismayed and shocked that this sort of proposal would even make it out of commitee," said panelist Anna M.Baldwin '00, a member of serveral gay activist groups.

Council Vice President Kamil E. Redmond '00moderated the panel and requested that panelist keep their tempers under control. Last week, over 130 mnessage were sent to the uc-general newsgroup about the issue.

"We all recognize that this is a charged topic....I look nothing like Jerry Springer, and this is not going to turn into a talk show," Redmond said.

While tensions occasionally ran high, panel and audience members conducted a largely civilized debate surrounding the military's "don't tell" policy and its relations to the Colege's rules about non-discrimination.

"How ca we welcome ROTC back on campus?" asked council member and pnelist Alex A. Boni-Saenz '01. citing recorded cases of discrimination against gay soldiers and rising numbernof soldiers being discharged in the aftermath of the policy's promulgation.

"[Bring ROTC back] would be a legitimate enorsement of these increasing trends," Boni-Saenz said.

Panelist Alexis B. Karteron '01 agreed.

"I do have great respect for the armedd force," said Karteron, a member of the council and the Coalition Against Sexual Violence. But she said the proposed legislation "practically nullifies" the council's previous efforts against discrimination on campus.

But David A. Campbell '00, a former member of the Biseeual, Gay Lesbian, Transgender ander and Supports Alliance, said that for a school like Harvard, which prides itself on seecting an elite student body, to ban student groups controlling their membership is hypocrisy.

"Who's fooling whom? Every student here is thakful that Byerly Hall discriminates against less intelligent peopke," Campbell said.

"The current system ROTC has is not unjust. It requires people to make choice," he continued.

Robert J. Baror '00-,01, a member of the council, said apporving ROTC as a student group would ot cause drastic changes.