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ROTC Reinsurance Policy Gets Approval

By Zareena Hussain
Associate News editor

The Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid recently approved a measure that would compensate ROTC students who lose scholarships because of their sexual orientation by providing supplemental Institute loans that would later be forgiven.

This move represents the first and only fully-implemented action taken by the ROTCimplementation team, which is responsible for realizing the recommendations of the ROTCtask force approved in a faculty resolution last April.

The resolution called for a modified ROTCplan that would be open to all MITstudents, regardless of sexual orientation, in keeping with MIT's policy on non-discrimination.

As it stands, the Department of Defense "don't ask, don't tell" enacted in 1993 prevents an openly gay person from participating fully in ROTC. The resulting discrimination conflicts with MIT's policy of non-discrimination.

"In its present structure, an openly declared homosexual would have to be excluded from parts of the program," said ROTCOversight Committee Chair William B. Watson, an associate professor of history.

Under the reinsurance policy, ROTCstudents whose federal scholarships are taken away because of their sexual orientation may apply for need-based financial aid to help replace the lost scholarship.

Since the money offered in an ROTC scholarship often exceeds a student's need as determined by the Financial Aid Office, MITwill offer additional supplemental loans to cover the gap.

Loans contingent on service

The Institute will forgive the supplemental loans to students who complete a full-time public service program upon completion of their studies.

A student who opts out of public service will be required to repay the loans plus interest. The director of the Office of Student Financial Aid and the chair of CUAFA will decide on the appropriateness of the proposed service.

So far this year, the approval of the reinsurance policy has been the only fully implemented component of the faculty resolution, said Sarah E. Gallop, assistant for government relations and official spokesperson for the ROTCimplementation team.

"It's fair to say we are working and off-hand comments compromise the work of the implementation team," said Associate Provost Philip L. Clay, who is chair of the ROTCimplementation team.

The team will present a report of this year's accomplishments at May's faculty meeting.

Resolution requires collaboration

The charge of the implementation team is to put together a strategy to carry out the recommendations of the faculty resolution, Gallop said.

While some components of the faculty resolution are internal to the Institute, such as the recently approved reinsurance policy, other components require collaboration with the Department of Defense.

The changes outlined in the resolution that require such collaboration include eligibility to take part in the "Leadership Laboratory," curricular changes in the ROTCprogram, wearing of ROTCuniforms, and participation in ROTC off-campus activities.

The committee is currently looking for opportunities in the federal arena to advocate MIT's position on such matters. "Those opportunities have not shown themselves," Gallop said.

"The reality is that this is not an issue in the national venue that's a priority," Gallop said.

Cases not yet heard by Court

What might propel the issue into the national arena are four cases regarding the issue currently at the level of the federal circuit court. The Supreme Court opted not to hear the first of these four cases that reached appeal.

"The Supreme Court tends not to take first case on a new issue," Gallop said.

In the event that two federal courts rule differently, the Supreme Court would be more likely to hear an appeal, Gallop said.

MITis prepared to file an amicus brief in the event that an appeal reaches the level of the Supreme Court. An amicus or "friend of the court" brief can be filed by any interested party in order to present a point of view on the case to the court. MIT might collaborate with other schools and the American Council on Education in filing such a brief, Gallop said