MIT will guarantee an equal financial aid package to its ROTC students whose federal scholarships are terminated because of their sexual orientation.
The policy, effective immediately, is the first action taken by an ROTC Implementation Team appointed by President Charles M. Vest to develop strategies regarding the modified ROTC program called for in a faculty resolution last April.
None of the 102 MIT students enrolled in ROTC has had a scholarship terminated since the Department of Defense's "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy regarding sexual orientation was enacted in 1993. If this occurs in the future, a support structure has been established in the Office for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs.
Under the new policy, any MIT ROTC student whose federal scholarship is terminated may apply for financial aid to continue his or her education and is encouraged to do so to establish a level of eligibility. Additional supplemental loans will be available for ROTC students who lose their federal package because of their sexual orientation.
The policy has been approved by the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA).
MIT will forgive supplemental loans to students who perform full-time public service after leaving the Institute, including VISTA or the Peace Corps service, or teaching in grades K-12. The director of the Office of Student Financial Aid and the chair of CUAFA Aid will rule on the acceptability of proposed service.
Two terms of MIT tuition will be forgiven for each year of public service. Students who prefer not to perform public service will be responsible for repaying the loan plus interest. ROTC- commissioned officers are required to serve four years on active duty or eight years in the active reserves.
The Implementation Team, which has been meeting since September, is chaired by Associate Provost Phillip L. Clay. Other members are Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates, Government Relations Assistant Sarah E. Gallop, Professor of Ocean Engineering J. Kim Vandiver, who is also chair of CUAFA, and Associate Professor of History William B. Watson. They plan to present a full report to the faculty in May.
The team was appointed after a faculty task force called for a modified ROTC program open to all students, including those not eligible for federal scholarships or commissions, without discrimination or differential treatment. The faculty resolution called for "tangible" progress toward this goal within two years. Professors Vandiver and Watson and Ms. Gallop were also members of the task force. In addition, Professor Watson is the chair of the ROTC Oversight Committee.
About 80 faculty members approved the task force resolution on a voice vote at a regular faculty meeting on April 17. There was one "no" vote and three abstentions.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 19, 1997.