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MIT Cannot Afford to End Support for ROTC

MITCannot Afford To End Support For ROTC

I read with interest your editorial ["Institute Must Plan to End ROTC," Feb. 14] advocating ending MIT participation in ROTC. Your argument was very clear: ROTC programs discriminate against homosexuals, and since this is both wrong and in violation of MIT policy, MIT participation in ROTC should be ended with some due course consideration given to MIT ROTC cadets. This argument fails entirely to consider the consequences of such an action on the Institute itself.

Congress recently asked the Department of Defense to submit a list of U.S. universities that prohibited military recruiting and ROTC activities on its campus so that it could enforce a recently enacted appropriation provision that seeks to end federal funding to universities who impede the execution of a national defense. To the surprise of many members of Congress, this list was very short. It seems most universities do not prohibit military and ROTC recruiting even though some of their subordinate schools do so. Clearly, universities like MIT cannot afford to even consider actions that would restrict or deny access to federal appropriations, nor could student bodies. MIT has been adversely affected by the current defense draw down, but would be devastated by an elimination of all federal support. Now of course this won't happen - neither MIT nor the nation could afford the consequences. In the meantime, MIT has no choice but to keep its ROTC program. There may be some "work around" arrangements made to seemingly separate the Institute from the ROTC program, but student access will not be impeded.

Furthermore, relief of this thorny issue for MIT executives is not likely soon. The president and commander-in-chief, Congress, the Department of Defense, and the component military services have participated in a process that has resulted in a policy that states that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service." Furthermore, homosexual acts committed by service members on and off duty are illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (passed by Congress) and can result in incarceration, and that overt homosexual tendencies are grounds for administrative separation.

The bottom line is that MIT's anti-discrimination policy in regards to homosexuals will probably not take precedence to the law of the land. Ultimately, this contentious issue may be resolved by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately for homosexual rights advocates, the Court has usually allowed the Congress and the commander-in-chief to raise and administer armies and to fight wars without much interference from the judicial branch. I suspect that this trend will continue.

Michael F. Stollenwerk MBA '95