ROTC: Is It Coming Back?

FRESHMEN WANDERING over to shannon Hall this year will find it difficult to imagine the battle lines drawn at Harvard in 1969. No longer do framed pictures of bombers, battleships and missiles decorate Shannon's corridors. No longer do Harvard classroom discussions revolve around issues of "the professional officer" and "advanced tactical concepts."

Once the headquarters for Harvard's Reserve Officer Training Corps units, Shannon today is a typical classroom building devoted to seminar rooms, labs, and teaching fellows' offices. Its most militant cry is an occasional child's scream wafting upwards from the day care center which occupies territory in Shannon's basement.

President Bok told a rain-soaked audience of alumni and parents last June 13 that he is "inclined to agree" with alumni who believe that political pressure on the University rather than a thorough, fair debate on academic grounds drove ROTC from its Harvard base in Spring 1969.

"I do not believe that our record and our conscience can be fully clear until we manifest our willingness to entertain an ROTC program on terms compatible with our usual institutional standards," Bok said.

The Faculty voted 385 to 25 on April 17, 1969 to recommend that the Harvard Corporation deny ROTC any privileges beyond those accorded to other extracurricular organizations.

The Faculty vote followed by nine days the occupation of University Hall by 300 to 400 students demanding an end to Harvard ROTC. On April 10, police invaded University Hall, injuring dozens of students and arresting 250 people. Two thousand students voted to strike the same day.

IN PASSING its resolution, however, the Faculty was only clarifying a resolution it had passed three months earlier. The Faculty voted 207 to 125 on February 4, 1969 to:

*deny course credit to ROTC courses;

*deny Faculty appointments to ROTC teaching personnel; and

*deny ROTC the free use of Harvard buildings and materials.

The February decision came in the wake of three reports by Faculty committees--the Harvard-Radcliffe Policy Committee, the Committee on Educational Policy, and the Student-Faculty Advisory Committee-as well as by the now-defunct Harvard Undergraduate Council recommending that ROTC be restructured for academic reasons.

Even in April, under an atmosphere of far greater tension than could have prevailed in February, only two Faculty members spoke in favor of an SDS resolution to deny ROTC recognition in any curricular or extracurricular form. All other resolutions, contrary to the implication of Bok's June speech, were phrased in terms of educational--not political--policy.

Despite their differing recommendations, the four committees submitting resolutions to the February 4 meeting generally focused on the same four educational problems:

*Pre-professional training conducted by an outside organization recruiting career members violates Harvard's conception of a liberal university.

*Under the law, the Faculty could not be assured final say over the substance of the ROTC curriculum, much of which appeared less rigorous than is expected of Harvard courses.