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ROTC Report Emphasizes Reinsurance

By Zareena Hussain
associate news editor

The ROTC Implementation Team, charged with creating a modified ROTC program at MITand promoting changes in current national policy which discriminates against homosexuals, released its annual report at the May 21 faculty meeting.

The report summarized the team's progress during the past year, highlighting the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid approval of MIT's reinsurance policy, which provides financial support to students disenrolled from ROTC due to their sexual orientation. The report also discussed the team's work toward a modified ROTCprogram which centered on proposed changes in the Institute's Air Force ROTC program.

The report also acknowledged the continued discrimination within the ROTCprogram. "There is no progress in ending discrimination within the ROTCprogram since the faculty vote in April 1996. The legal barriers still exist," the report said.

In 1996, the faculty called for the creation of a modified ROTC program to be open to all qualified MIT students as well as a supplemental financial aid package for those who lose ROTC scholarships as a result of their sexual orientation.

Team will focus on AFROTC

The team decided to propose a set of modifications to the Air Force ROTC program, according to the report.

"We had to start somewhere. It wouldn't have been prudent to do all three [Army, Navy, Air Force] at once," said Sarah E. Gallop, assistant for government relations and spokesperson for the team.

"Our goal is to develop a program that centers on leadership, team-building, and other personal skills that are consistent with our goals for undergraduate education. This thrust is consistent with other campus initiatives to develop leadership skills among our students," the report said.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for MIT," said Air Force ROTC Director William D. Rutley, referring to the potential to create an inclusive model for ROTCwhile working within the current law.

Most other campuses with ROTCprograms have made little effort towards eliminating discrimination, the report said, and noted that two schools had taken steps backwards. Two schools in the University of California system that had banned ROTCfrom their campuses have reinstated the programs.

In addition, MIT's attempts to alter the ROTC program legally have yet to bear fruit. All cases challenging the federal "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" law remain at federal circuit courts. One case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after the law was upheld at the level of the federal circuit court, but the court declined to hear the appeal.

Legal initiatives remain dormant'

Three cases within California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are likely to result in a ruling that that the federal policy is unconstitutional. When there are conflicting rulings within the federal circuit courts, the Supreme Court is more likely to hear an appeal, Gallop said.

"When a case reaches the level of the Supreme Court, you'll see a quick mobilization between lobbyists and schools to file an amicus' brief," Gallop said. "Amicus" ,or friend of the court, briefs may be filed by any interested party wishing to express a an opinion to the court. The brief would most likely be filed under the leadership of the American Council on Education, Gallop said.

"The reality of this issue right now is that it's dormant. It's just not on the radar screen in Congress," Gallop said.

Associate Provost Philip L. Clay and Professor of Ocean Engineering J. Kim Vandiver PhD '75, who serve on the implementation team, met with the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Issues Group as part of its broadened charge to better the climate for homosexuals on campus.

"We don't have any specific activities or plans, or even ideas yet," to better the acceptance climate on campus, Gallop said.

"When they get around to doing these things the LBGTIssues group will help," said group member Adrian Banard G. "There's still a lot of distrust in the queer community. It's because they haven't done anything yet," he said.