At its first meeting last night, the Undergraduate Council's ad hoc committee examining the University's relationship with the Reserve Officer T3eral subcommittees and decided to hold open forums on the issue.
The committee, chaired by Timothy P. McCormack '91-'92 and Yared Belai '92, discussed the organization and goals of the committee, occasionally sliding into debate on the controversial issues surrounding Harvard's ties with ROTC.
Approximately a dozen students, including council chair David A. Aronberg '93, attended the meeting. Most said they favored continuing the University's ties with the program, though some said they had concerns. None joined Belai in what he called an "anti-ROTC" stance.
"It's simply a matter of not being able to contact the relevant people for the anti-ROTC debate," Belai said. He said that students from liberal campus groups would be included in future meetings.
McCormack, a Navy ROTC cadet, clearly supported the ROTC program, but called for a complete exploration of the issue.
"[We should] use this committee as a framework on which to organize a logical decision on both sides," McCormack said.
The council has decided to reopen discussion on the controversial program in an effort to influence the Faculty Council's upcoming debate.
Two years ago, the Faculty Council voted to stop accepting ROTC scholarships beginning this spring unless the military removes its ban against gays serving in ROTC.
But last week, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles said the Faculty will reopen debate on the issue because its 1990 decision is non-binding.
The ROTC issue is especially sensitive to members of the Under-graduate Council because in 1989 the body voted to ask the University to bring the program back to campus but reversed the vote one week later amid a storm of student protest and media attention.
Committee members last night decided that their primary goal will be to facilitate debate on the issue.
Besides the two main subcommittees, to be headed by Belai and McCormack, a third was created to be headed by Daniel H. Tabak '92, who said he believes that a compromise can be found. Each subcommittee will present a report presenting its arguments and findings.
Tabak suggested that the University could eliminate its ties with ROTC, and that students who would be prevented from attending Harvard would be eligible for alumni-funded scholarships or would have their student loans forgiven if they entered public service after graduation.
"I think that the UC and the students would be much better served if we looked for this middle ground," Tabak said after the meeting. "We would gain tremendous respect from the faculty."