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ROTC Task Force recommends changes

MIT's ROTC Task Force will recommend to the faculty today (March 20) that MIT work with the Department of Defense (DOD) "to create a model ROTC program that is more inclusive and more aligned with the values and mission of MIT."

The new program would seek to preserve two important principles of the university-inclusion and national service-which are now in opposition.

"As part of MIT's educational mission, the Institute must strive for an open, honest environment that respects the rights and privileges of all within the community to explore myriad aspects of the human experience," the report said.

The presence of ROTC on campus "allows MIT to contribute to the nation's well being by providing `citizen soldiers' for the military's officer corps... But the DOD policy, which excludes gays from full and open participation in ROTC, is directly opposed to the first principle of inclusion," the report said.

The report said the goal is the development of "a better ROTC program that will involve more students and that can serve as a model for other universities. The MIT ROTC program would be open to all students, who could participate fully in all parts of the program without discrimination or differential treatment. The ROTC Oversight Committee will expand its responsibilities to assure that the ROTC curriculum meets the goals of the `citizen soldier' principle, and that the commanding officers for the three ROTC units share MIT's vision for an inclusive and nondiscriminatory program."

The Task Force also recommended that MIT take "action to counteract some of the discrimination due to the DOD policy" by reinsuring the DOD scholarship for MIT students who lose it because of their homosexuality."

The Task Force Also recommended a "program for change" for the Institute that includes the proposal that MIT sponsor a national forum on campus "to bring attention to the issues surrounding homosexuals and the military. Quite possibly this could be an annual event for as long as these issues remain." The Task Force also recommends that MIT's president and the chair of the faculty appoint a committee "to serve as an advocacy group, acting both on campus and in the national arena for as long as necessary."

The Faculty is expected to vote on a resolution which will contain recommendations to the MIT president at the April 17 meeting. The report is available at mail centers, lobbies and on the Web at .

The Task Force was unanimous in finding that there has not been "adequate progress toward the elimination of the DOD policy on sexual orientation."

Some institutions, the report noted, "have decided to distance themselves from ROTC" in order to remove from the campus the conflict between DOD regulations and nondiscrimination policies. Others schools, the report said, "explicitly acknowledge the conflict and exempt ROTC from their nondiscrimination policies."

The Task Force said it chose to recommend "a different course for MIT"-the model ROTC program.

The Task Force recommends that the ROTC Oversight Committee assure that the ROTC curriculum meets the goals of the citizen soldier principle "and that the commanding officers share MIT's vision for a model program." The committee would establish, in collaboration with the MIT faculty and professors of military science, "a series of educational goals for the ROTC curriculum that are to include topics related to the social and political aspects of the military, such as the relationship between the military and civil society, discrimination and its history in both the military and civil societies, diversity in both the work force and the military, issues of gender and sexual orientation in the military, and other such topics as may be judged appropriate," the Task Force recommended.

Some elements of the model program, the Task Force pointed out, must be negotiated "because they contradict current DOD regulations."

The Task Force also calls for MIT to "reinsure" students who lose ROTC scholarships because of their sexual orientation with a financial-aid package consisting of the standard need-based MIT scholarship, plus an optional supplement. The optional supplement would be contingent upon a commitment "to some form of national service" commensurate to the level of aid received.

Under the recommendation, the MIT Bulletin would describe ROTC at the Institute "as a model program, open to all students, but will also describe how some important aspects of the program violate MIT's nondiscrimination policy," the report said.

All students in the model program would be "expected to perform at the same level and are to be evaluated by the same standards regardless of whether they will be commissioned or not," the Task Force recommends.

"Upon successful completion of the ROTC programs, those students not receiving commissions are to receive instead a `Certificate of Completion,' and, if appropriate, letters of recommendation and commendation."

The Task Force said it "believes that it is in the interest of both MIT and DOD to institute these changes and that the changes suggested here would in no way compromise the ultimate goals and functions of the military."

The Task Force report notes that "there are at least three forms of possible fraud" that would exclude a student from receiving "reinsurance" from MIT if an ROTC scholarship is lost. For example, "a student who is not gay might claim to be gay" to avoid military service, or "a gay student, with no intention or interest in military service," might join ROTC, receive a DOD scholarship "only to later reveal his or her homosexuality and receive a full scholarship from MIT." Investigations in such cases should involve MIT faculty members, the report said. The third possible fraud, refusal to perform national service, could be dealt with by granting the MIT scholarship under a "contractual instrument," the Task Force said.

The Task Force is chaired by Professor Stephen C. Graves. Other members are Professors Kenneth R. Manning, Lisa A. Steiner, J. Kim Vandiver and William B. Watson, and students Alan E. Pierson (undergraduate) and Frank P. Tipton (graduate). Sarah E. Gallop of the President's Office of Community and Government Relations is the staff.

The Task force said that comments about the final report can be sent to .

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 20, 1996.

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