The Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) and the Harvard Republican Club (HRC) issued a joint statement last night slamming the John F. Voith ’07 and Tara Gadgil ’07 campaign for making “misleading” statements.
“It is disrespectful to our organizations and to the student body, and we will not let it stand,” the joint statement said. “John Voith’s attempt to pander to our respective organizations by clearly misrepresenting his ticket’s stance on ROTC is both dishonest in principal and harmful in practice.”
The discrepancy comes out of a similar question the groups asked the candidates during endorsement meetings.
Both the BGLTSA and the HRC asked the Voith-Gadgil campaign if they supported a chapter of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and military recruiting at Harvard.
Discussion of the inconsistency erupted on open lists last night.
According to members of the BGLTSA, Voith and Gadgil gave an answer to them that differed from their written response to the HRC.
“They said they absolutely did not support having ROTC on campus as long as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was in place,” said Mischa A. Feldstein ’07, co-chair of the BGLTSA.
But in a written response to the HRC, available on their website, Voith and Gadgil gave a different answer.
“We believe that Harvard should actively support students who wish to serve their country in the military. We will support bringing ROTC back to campus, support recruiting on campus, and make a point to pass a UC resolution at the end of the spring semester thanking and congratulating the soon-to-be-commissioned cadets and midshipmen,” Voith and Gadgil wrote in the response to the HRC questions.
Both groups maintained that Voith and Gadgil’s comments left little ambiguity on where they stood on the issue of the military on campus.
“Our understanding was just what they told us their position was and that they would actively support a movement to bring an ROTC chapter to campus,” said Matthew P. Downer ’07, president of the HRC. “It was very explicit. During the endorsement meeting, someone brought up the possibility of bringing up a resolution bringing ROTC back to Harvard and they both said they would support that. It left little doubt in the minds of the people in the room.”
Feldstein said that Voith and Gadgil’s response was explicit.
“Their response to us was that they maintained that they personally did not support ROTC on campus as long as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was in place,” said Feldstein. “They made it very clear.”
“They kind of got caught between two different positions, said Rachel A. Culley ’07, social chair of the BGLSTA.
Gadgil wrote in a statement e-mailed to the HRC open-list tonight that the contradiction stemmed from a misunderstanding on the part of the BGLTSA.
“We continue to support bringing ROTC back to campus. We made that clear to the HRC and to the BGLTSA,” Gadgil wrote. “It is not accurate to state that we [are] ‘unequivocally opposed the presence of ROTC on campus while Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is in place.’ We did, however, make it clear that we need to understand the concerns of the campus.”
Voith also said that the BGLTSA had confused the substance of his and Gadgil’s stance on the issue.
“The Republican Club was a written statement and the BGLTSA is an interpretation,” Voith said.
While neither club is endorsing Voith and Gadgil, the incident has left many disillusioned with the Voith-Gadgil ticket.
“I imagine that there might have been people who were leaning toward John and Tara before the meeting,” said Downer. “But after hearing this they were all fairly disillusioned and continue to be.”
—Staff writer Alexander D. Blankfein can be reached at email@example.com.