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Faculty Express Doubt Over Final ROTC Plan

By Anders Hove
Executive Editor

The members of the ROTC task force met a mixed response Wednesday as they presented their final report Wednesday at the March faculty meeting.

The faculty also approved a measure to establish a master of engineering program in nuclear engineering.

Professor of Management Stephen C. Graves, chair of the task force, called for a "model ROTC program" that would combine the best aspects of other schools' approaches to the military's "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy on homosexuals.

Graves began by discussing the phases of the task force's work. In the first two phases, the task force collected information, issued an interim report, and gathered community input through a series of open forums, he said.

While the final report released this week represents the completion of the third phase, the task force has been asked to oversee a fourth phase in which the final recommendations are again brought before the community for discussion, Graves said.

Task force goals discussed

Graves outlined several key issues or goals for MITROTC. ROTC should provide an "open, honest environment that respects the rights and privileges of all," he said.

The task force respects the value of ROTC to students at MIT, as well as "a citizen-soldier principle" according to which "the military should be representative of the society," Graves said.

The final report of the task force addresses these issues by proposing "a model ROTC program that is inclusive and nondiscriminatory," Graves said.

The program would have three main features: ROTC programs open to all students, a policy of reinsurance for cadets who lose their scholarship for reasons of homosexual conduct, and an MIT committee responsible for advocating change in the federal law, Graves said.

While the recommendations were made "in the shadow of anti-ROTC' legislation," the task force had "tried as best we could to ignore this legislation" in its deliberations, Graves said.

"We have not formally talked to anyone in the [Department of Defense]," Graves said, although the task force did discuss the recommendations with the commanders on campus. Graves said that if the DoD rebuffed efforts at negotiation, the issue would be brought back to the faculty in one year.

"What we're asking for is an attempt, and not an endless commitment," said task force member Alan E. Pierson '96.

Faculty response mixed

Members of the faculty raised a number of objections to the task force proposal. Professor of Political Science and Philosophy Joshua Cohen questioned how the recommendations differed from the policy adopted by other universities in which ROTC is exempted from statements of nondiscrimination.

The proposed program would merely "violate [MIT's statement of nondiscrimination] in the best way that we know how," Cohen said.

Graduate Student Council President Barbara J. Souter G questioned the value of the reinsurance idea. "Whether MIT paid [for a revoked scholarship] or not, I would still feel very discriminated against," she said.

Professor of Literature David M. Halperin called the proposal "a compromise that is not truly workable." While he said he did not wish to hold the faculty to the 1990 resolution on ROTC which he helped draft, "MIT should try to distance itself further from the U.S. military."

"I can't accept the findings of the task force," Halperin said. He called the report "vague and imprecise in a number of factual areas." He questioned whether MIT could negotiate with the DoD without violating federal laws, which "make a mockery of MIT's nondiscrimination policy."

Professor of Material Science and Engineering Thomas W. Eagar '72 offered a more positive response to the committee's recommendations. "I don't mind compromise," said Eagar. "I would like to endorse [the task force's proposal] as something that continues the dialogue."

The faculty is expected to vote on the committee's recommendations at their April meeting. Allowing one month for discussion is customary for important matters, President Charles M. Vest said.

Vest stated that it would be inappropriate for him to participate in the discussion about the task force recommendations, but said he has "been very proud of the MIT community while this topic has been under discussion."

"I have been impressed at the plane in which this discussion is taking place," Vest said.