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ROTC: Gay Discrimination



To the Editors of the Crimson,

I am appalled that the Crimson endorsed the signing of an agreement between Harvard and Navy ROTC. In the context of last year's decision by the faculty to pay for the overhead costs of ROTC at MIT and ROTC refusal to allow gay people to participate in its programs, the provision to award academic credit for some ROTC courses is a sign that Harvard endorses discrimination against pay people in its academic programs. What if Harvard gave students academic credit for a course which no Black students would attend? Would not this be seen as Harvard endorsing discrimination? Harvard acceptance of ROTC courses as equal to Moral Reasoning 22 ("Justice") is a slap in the face for each gay student at this University.

There are some that would argue that ROTC allows those who would not otherwise be able to attend Harvard to do so. This may be true. And this will even be more true when President Reagan cuts financial aid to students. We will then have a situation where gay people are barred from one of the few remaining sources of financial aid available from the Federal government. If this is an important source of aid, why do Harvard, and others, accept without dissent the exclusion of gay people from these programs?

This latest chapter in the return of ROTC indicates three things. First, Harvard isn't serious about protecting the rights of gay people in this University and in programs associated with it. In the past then-Dean of the Faculty Rosovsky opposed a non-discrimination clause protecting gay students by saying that Harvard didn't have any discrimination of that kind. It being barred from a University-funded and Faculty-accepted program isn't discrimination, then what is it? True the ROTC program is run by the Federal government, but giving up control to the military does not absolve Harvard from being responsible for the consequences. Harvard has not been reluctant in the past to attack actions which reduce financial aid or control research. Why the silence now?

Secondly, the exclusion of any student input into this process indicates that the administration only consults the Undergraduate Council when it sees fit. Certainly the student-faculty Committees on Undergraduate Education and College Life would have been appropriate forums for this issue. Students helped throw ROTC off campus; they should have been consulted before someone opened the back door to let it back in.

Thirdly, the Crimson editorial evidences the Crimson's continued insensitivity to issues concerning gay people. By endorsing the Faculty's action the Crimson endorsed anti-gay discrimination. If they didn't know that, they should have. After all last year the Gay and Lesbian Students Association carried its opposition to ROTC all the way to the floor of a Faculty meeting. Of course reading the Crimson's own year-end summaries one would not know this happened. Too, the Crimson continues to be a member of the Associated Press which has refused to say it will not discriminate against gay people. Though in the past it has been asked to protest this policy or to join the United Press International, which does offer such protection, Crimson presidents have not replied.

The Crimson has joined the administration in endorsing discrimination. This is hardly "The Decent Thing To Do." Jake Stevens '96

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