Final Report of the ROTC Task Force:

Introduction and Summary

Task Force: Ms. Sarah E. Gallop; Professor Stephen C. Graves, Task Force Chair; Professor Kenneth R. Manning; Mr. Alan E. Pierson; Professor Lisa A. Steiner; Mr. Frank P. Tipton; Professor J. Kim Vandiver; Professor William B. Watson

Introduction and Summary

This past fall President Vest convened a Task Force responsible for carrying out the final component of the 1990 MIT Faculty Resolution (see Appendix I) with regard to ROTC and the military policy governing homosexuals in the armed forces. President Vest's charge to the Task Force stated:

The role of the Task Force is to enable the Faculty to establish an informed position regarding the future of MIT's relationship with ROTC and the access of MIT students to its programs. The charge to the Task Force is to assemble relevant information on the issue at hand in order to evaluate progress since 1990, to summarize and disseminate this information to the MIT community, to engage the community in an informed discussion of the issues, to frame these issues for the Faculty, and to recommend a course of action.

To accomplish the first three components of this charge the Task Force issued an interim report, dated February 1, 1996. The interim report [1] provides the relevant background information, and discusses a spectrum of possible actions that MIT might consider. The Task Force has used this report to educate the community about the relevant issues, and to provide a basis for an informed discussion on actions MIT might take. (see Appendix III)

This document, the final report, addresses the remaining components of the charge. In this report, we provide an evaluation of progress since 1990, a discussion of the principal issues that are in conflict, and a recommended course of action for MIT. In Appendix II we provide the Faculty resolution, approved April 17, 1996, to accept the recommendations of this report.

The Task Force was asked to evaluate progress since 1990 toward eliminating the Department of Defense (DOD) discrimination against homosexuals in the military. Our assessment is that the "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy represents a change, but that it is not adequate progress toward the elimination of the DOD policy on sexual orientation. The DOD policy [2] continues to exclude homosexuals from participation in the military. Although the "don't ask" and "don't pursue" parts are improvements, at least in theory, the "don't tell" part of the current policy is particularly problematic in a campus environment that relies extensively on honesty and openness.

To develop a position on the future of MIT's relationship with ROTC, the Task Force has first worked to understand and articulate the key issues or principles that are in conflict under the current arrangements with ROTC. In this report we try to frame these issues, as they are the basis for the debate.

One principle is that of inclusion. 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 second principle is that of the "citizen soldier," which states that a democratic nation is more secure if its military officers are selected from a broad range of citizens, rather than from a professional elite trained only at military academies.

The presence of ROTC at MIT allows MIT to contribute to the nation's well being by providing "citizen soldiers" for the military's officer corps. In addition, MIT students benefit from the educational experience and from the opportunity to serve their nation as military officers. But the DOD policy, which excludes gays [3] from full and open participation in ROTC, is directly opposed to the first principle of inclusion.

As described in the interim report, many of our sister institutions who face this conflict have opted for one of two tactics. Some have decided to distance themselves from ROTC, in order to remove the conflict from campus. Others explicitly acknowledge the conflict and exempt ROTC from their nondiscrimination policies. We recommend a different course for MIT. We propose that MIT work with DOD to create a ROTC program that is open and contributes to the overall educational mission of MIT. The MIT ROTC program would be open to all students, who could participate without discrimination or differential treatment. [4]

We also recommend an action to counteract some of the consequences of discrimination due to the DOD policy. We propose to reinsure the DOD scholarships for any MIT students who lose their scholarship because of their homosexuality.

The ROTC Oversight Committee (formerly the ROTC Committee) will expand its responsibilities to assist in the implementation of both the modified ROTC program and the reinsurance program.

Finally, we recommend that MIT work in any way it can to remove discrimination against homosexuals in the military now embodied in the federal law and in DOD regulations. We propose the creation of an advocacy group and suggest possible actions and activities to ensure that the MIT community continues to address the issues raised herein.


[1] The final report does not repeat the background information that is available in the interim report, dated February 1, 1996; this report can be obtained from the home page for the Task Force ( Appendix V provides addenda and errata for the interim report.

[2] In this report, we use the term "DOD policy" to denote the federal law and DOD regulations that govern the status of homosexuals in the military. We understand that changes to "DOD policy" will entail either new legislation or a court ruling.

[3] For the purposes of this report, the words "gay" and "homosexual" are meant to include gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

[4] The awarding of DOD scholarships and the commissioning of ROTC cadets are beyond the purview of the MIT ROTC program.

Introduction| Section 1| Section 2| Section 3| Section 4| Appendices

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