Faculty condems ROTC policy on homosexuals
By Dave Watt
The MIT faculty voted overwhelmingly at their May 16 meeting to condemn the Reserve Officers' Training Corps policy of discriminating against homosexuals. The faculty will form a committee which may set a deadline for ending MIT's relationship with the ROTC program. The committee's proposals will be voted on at the October faculty meeting.
The faculty vote follows a letter sent in April by Provost John M. Deutch '61 to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney which strongly protested the ROTC policy. The letter, which Deutch said has provoked widespread and sometimes hostile comment, called for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in the military, arguing that continued discrimination would give critics of the military a weapon for driving a wedge between the defense establishment and universities.
Deutch commented at the meeting that he was surprised by the level of opposition he has encountered to his call to end discrimination by ROTC. He said that he has talked with former secretaries of defense and congressmen about the issue, and warned that, "If the secretary of defense were to change the policy, there is a real chance that the Congress would vote the prohibition [on gays in the military] into law."
It is possible that the committee will decide against setting a deadline for ending ROTC at MIT. During the debate on the motion, Deutch said that he was opposed to setting deadlines, given his view that opposition to ending discrimination is so widespread. He originally supported a resolution that called only for an annual review of ROTC's policy, but when the
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faculty voted that down 53-33, Deutch promptly rose in support of the motion which might set a deadline.
Robert L. Bettiker '90, who was expelled from the ROTC after telling his commanding officer that he was gay, was hopeful that the resolution would help end military discrimination against gays. "I'm glad that MIT will work together with other universities to encourage the military to change its policies. I hope that the military and the universities will work together, without confrontation, as they try to resolve this." The Navy originally demanded that Bettiker repay the roughly $40,000 he had received for his participation in ROTC, but dropped the demand in April after reconsidering his case in Washington.
The faculty also voted to form a panel that would formulate guidelines for the conduct and handling of demonstrations, which may subsequently lead to the formation of an advisory panel which would monitor major student demonstrations. The decision to form a panel follows several violent confrontations between demonstrators and campus police on campus during the past term, at which members of the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid and police officers have been injured.
Twenty-six students were arrested on April 6 when the CAA attempted to erect a shanty on the lawn in front of the Student Center. Eight Campus Police officers were injured during the arrests and demolition of the shanty. Statistics for student injuries were not compiled.
One police officer was seriously injured March 2 when demonstrators stormed an elevator during a CAA-sponsored protest at an MIT Corporation meeting.
Officer Rosie Sanders was seriously injured March 2 when CAA demonstrators stormed an elevator at an MIT Corporation meeting, and was unable to work for several weeks afterward. Steven D. Penn G and Ron W. Francis G were taken to the Committee on Discipline by MIT Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin as a result of the injury, even though photos taken by the Boston Herald indicate that neither of them was in the elevator when the injury occurred. The COD dismissed the charges against Penn and Francis last week.
It was also announced at the meeting that George B"uchi, Camille and Henry Dreyfus professor of chemistry, was awarded the James R. Killian Faculty Achievement Award for the 1990-91 academic year.
The Killian Award is given annually to recognize extraordinary professional accomplishments and service to MIT. B"uchi was cited for his outstanding research contributions to "photochemistry, natural products and molecular toxicology which comprise cornerstones of these diverse areas of organic chemistry." The citation calls him "one of the best scientists at MIT, and one of the most human."