Council Debates Pro, Anti ROTC Reports

Representatives Argue 'Status Quo' Versus Termination of the Program

The Undergraduate Council's ad hoc committee on the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) last night released reports presenting diametrically opposed views on whether the University should sever ties with the program.

The reports, drafted by two separate subcommittees, provide comprehensive arguments for and against Harvard's maintaining its connection with ROTC. An additional third report is scheduled to be released today.

Two years ago, the Faculty Council issued an ultimatum threatening to refuse scholarship money from ROTC if the program did not change its policy of excluding gays.

President Neil L. Rudenstine welcomed the Undergraduate Council and other interested students groups to articulate opinions on the ROTC issue, which the Faculty Council will consider this spring.

In its report, the pro-ROTC subcommittee, chaired by Timothy P. McCormack '91-'92, endorsed "the status quo," recommending that Harvard continue to recognize ROTC scholarships.


McCormack's report stresses the importance of ROTC's financial benefits for students. It cites a survey of students participating in the ROTC program, which indicates that 90 percent of them would not have come to Harvard without the program.

Administration Criticized

The subcommittee criticized the University administration for considering ending its connections with ROTC while maintaining full ties with the Department of Defense, from which it received approximately $8.2 million in research grants this year.

On the other side of the issue, Yared Belai '92--in conjunction with leaders of the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA)--led the subcommittee calling for the termination of the ROTC program.

"We believe that ROTC regulations irrationally discriminate against homosexuals, and therefore, Harvard College should not continue to maintain relations with ROTC or its discriminatory scholarships," the subcommittee's report says.

But the anti-ROTC committee also suggests "a grandfather clause," which would allow current ROTC students to continue receiving benefits until graduation. The clause will "avoid unduly penalizing current beneficiaries of ROTC scholarships," according to the report.

Belai's subcommittee drew a parallel between the Pentagon's ban on gays and its discriminatory policies towards Blacks, which existed prior to 1948.

"I think that type of discrimination is so abhorrent that [the University] has no choice but to sever its ties with ROTC," said Belai.

Scholarships Discriminatory

The report rebutted several elements in the pro-ROTC argument, nothing that "ROTC scholarships are discriminatory whereas research grants are not."