Final Report of the ROTC Task Force


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


In addressing the issue of ROTC on MIT's campus, the Task Force has concluded that rather than distance ourselves from ROTC or sever all ties with the ROTC program, MIT should instead engage the ROTC program and the laws and regulations that sustain it as actively and as constructively as we can. This constructive engagement, as the resolution offered by the Task Force indicates, involves three distinct but related, objectives.

Our first objective is to develop, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, ROTC units at MIT that are open to all MIT students and that encourage tolerance through inclusive participation in their programs. Although ROTC is governed by federal statutes and by DOD regulations, MIT and DOD can and should take decisive steps to bring the ROTC program at MIT into conformity with the culture and standards of the Institute, to the extent possible.

Our second objective is to counteract, to the extent that we can, the on-campus consequences of current discriminatory policies against homosexuals in the US military by reinsuring the DOD scholarship of disenrolled homosexuals.

Our third objective is twofold: to raise awareness on campus of the issues surrounding the discrimination against gays in the military, and to work for change in the laws and regulations that currently discriminate against homosexuals in the military so that homosexuals may some day serve in the armed forces of the United States without discrimination.

Critical to the achievement of progress will be the willingness of DOD to collaborate with MIT in developing a pilot ROTC program that moves unmistakably toward the goal of nondiscrimination. Whatever steps must be taken by MIT and DOD to achieve this goal, it is equally critical that these steps be made visible to members of the MIT community as assurance that we are earnest in ultimately achieving nondiscrimination in all of the programs and activities associated with MIT, without exception.

Modified ROTC Program

We recommend that all three ROTC units administered by MIT, wherever they may be conducted, be open to enrollment and full participation by all students at MIT.

Inclusive Enrollment and Open Classes:

In the modified ROTC program recommended here, all MIT students will be eligible to enroll, without qualification or reservation, in any of the three ROTC units conducted at MIT provided they meet the required physical fitness standards of the relevant ROTC units. Enrolled students will be expected to participate in all classes and activities of the ROTC unit in which they are enrolled.

In addition, all classes taught in the ROTC program will be open to any MIT student, whether or not enrolled in ROTC, provided that the student can meet the prerequisites of the class.

The MIT Bulletin will present and promote ROTC at MIT as a modified program, open to all students, but it will also describe how some important aspects of the program violate MIT's nondiscrimination policy with regard to sexual orientation.

Nondiscriminatory Participation:

It is the goal of this modified ROTC program that all MIT students enrolled in ROTC at MIT will be able to participate, without differential treatment or discrimination, in all relevant activities of the ROTC program conducted or administered by MIT. [7]

1) All enrolled students are to participate in Leadership Laboratory subjects, including those that are currently open only to ROTC cadets who are eligible to be commissioned as officers in the United States armed forces.

2) All enrolled students are to wear, as available, the appropriate military uniform of the unit in which they have enrolled, whether they will be commissioned or not.

3) All enrolled students shall have the opportunity, to the extent possible, to participate in the off-campus activities of the ROTC units.

4) All enrolled students in ROTC are expected to perform at the same level and are to be evaluated by the same standards, whether they will be commissioned or not.

5) Upon successful completion of the ROTC program, those enrolled students not receiving commissions will be eligible to receive a "Certificate of Completion" and, if appropriate, letters of recommendation and commendation.


The ROTC Oversight Committee will continue its current functions and will expand its responsibilities to assure that the ROTC curriculum meets the goals of the "citizen soldier" principle, and that the commanding officers share MIT's vision for a modified program.

1) The Committee is to establish, in collaboration with the MIT Faculty and the 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. In order to broaden the scope of the ROTC curricula, the Task Force anticipates that the ROTC units will develop new ways of teaching the leadership, management, and teamwork materials it already teaches in a military context.

2) The Committee will assess, on an annual basis, how the above goals are being met in the ROTC curriculum and, whenever appropriate, recommend actions to fulfill them. The Committee will also work with the commanding officers to identify opportunities for enhancing the curriculum through special forums or activities during ROTC orientation and at other appropriate times.

3) In the appointment of future commanding officers for the three ROTC units, the Committee will interview each candidate to ensure that the commanding officers share MIT's vision for an inclusive and nondiscriminatory ROTC program as outlined herein and that they understand and appreciate the nature of MIT's educational mission and values. The Committee retains the authority to reject any candidate whom it determines does not meet the above criteria.

4) If a commanding officer initiates an investigation that may lead to the disenrollment of an MIT ROTC cadet, the commanding officer must inform a dean's office representative (to be designated) and the Chair of the Oversight Committee. The purpose of this notification is to ensure that a dean's office representative and the committee chair are aware of any pending investigation, so that they can monitor it, provide advice and assistance to the student being investigated, and prepare for the consequences of any actions taken, such as the loss of scholarship. We expect that the dean's office representative and the committee chair would remain in close contact with the commanding officer to avoid or minimize any disruptions to the student due to a change in his or her status with ROTC.


Although some of the above recommendations can be implemented independently either by MIT or by the commanders of the ROTC units at MIT on their own authority, other recommendations will require MIT to negotiate changes in DOD policies and regulations pertaining to ROTC. The Task Force 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.

Those changes that must be negotiated because they may conflict with current DOD regulations and policies are as follows:

1) eligibility to take part in the "Leadership Laboratory" classes of the ROTC curricula;

2) curricular changes in the ROTC programs;

3) wearing of ROTC uniforms; and

4) participation in the off-campus activities of ROTC, including the summer programs that take place on military bases or aboard naval vessels.

Assessing Progress:

The ROTC Oversight Committee will make an annual report to the Faculty on progress toward implementing the modified program. The Task Force expects that within two years tangible progress will be made in achieving the modified ROTC program. At that time, the willingness of DOD to implement the changes in the ROTC program recommended here should be evident. If movement toward an inclusive and nondiscriminatory ROTC program cannot be discerned at that time, then the Faculty should consider possible further action.

Mitigating the Consequences of Current DOD Regulations

We recommend that MIT mitigate the discriminatory consequences at MIT of current DOD regulations regarding homosexuals in the military.

MIT will reinsure MIT students who lose their ROTC scholarships due to their sexual orientation with a financial-aid package consisting of the standard need-based MIT scholarship, plus an optional supplement contingent upon certain conditions. The conditions are (i) that the loss of scholarship is not due to any reason other than the student's homosexuality; and (ii) that the student commits to some form of public service, commensurate to the level of supplementary support received.

The MIT Bulletin will publicize this new policy of reinsurance for DOD scholarships. Students applying to MIT should know that their DOD scholarships will be reinsured if they are subject to the "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy.


The main issues are how much might this policy cost, from where will the money come, how will MIT deal with potential abuse or fraud, and what constitutes public service.

1) Since all students are eligible for MIT's need-based financial aid, the additional cost to MIT would be the scholarship amount beyond the student's standard financial-aid package.

2) The Task Force expects that MIT could raise funds from faculty, alumni and foundations to cover the additional costs; however, this recommendation is not contingent upon the success of such fund raising. Rather, we expect MIT to cover the costs from general funds.

3) MIT encourages all prospective students to make their decisions with utmost care and honesty as regards their intentions to join and go forward in ROTC. Beyond that precautionary advice, the Institute would reinsure the scholarship of any MIT ROTC cadet who is disenrolled for homosexual conduct, regardless of circumstances. Sexual orientation can change in an individual, and it would be unwise for MIT to try to determine what constitutes fraudulent behavior surrounding sexual orientation and to charge a student accordingly. MIT should therefore proceed to gain experience with the policy of reinsurance as recommended, and come back to the general issue of fraud only if such is warranted in the future.

To insure that students fulfill their obligations of public service, the reinsurance may be made in the form of a forgivable loan.

4) The Task Force has not attempted to define what would be acceptable public service for the purposes of the reinsurance; however, we do cite as examples the Americorps program, the Peace Corps, and the Teach for America program. We propose that the matter of reinsurance be overseen by the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid.

A Program for Change

We recommend that MIT work for change in the laws and regulations that currently discriminate against homosexuals in the military and that the MIT community continues to address the issue of discrimination against homosexuals in the military until the issue is satisfactorily resolved. [8]

In order to carry out the above goals, we recommend that the President and the Chair of the Faculty appoint a committee (name to be determined), whose members will be drawn from the student body, the faculty, and the administration. This committee will serve as an advocacy group, acting both on campus and in the national arena for as long as necessary.

On Campus:

1) Annual Report: The advocacy group will report annually to the Faculty on developments regarding the laws and regulations related to homosexuals in the military and on campus efforts to promote respect, tolerance, and awareness. The ROTC Oversight Committee will report annually on the progress toward implementing the modified ROTC program at MIT.

2) MIT Communications and Publications: The MIT Bulletin, MIT's admissions materials, MIT's world wide web page, and all other relevant communications, will state MIT's commitment to move toward complete nondiscrimination in the ROTC program at MIT.

3) Publicizing the MIT ROTC Program: Information regarding the ROTC program at MIT will be disseminated to colleges and universities that currently operate ROTC programs.

4) Community Forums: MIT should arrange for periodic forums to engage MIT faculty, staff and students in discussion of MIT's nondiscrimination policy, the non-compliant aspects of the ROTC program and the reasons for the continuation of ROTC at MIT. Such discussions serve to promote respect, tolerance, and awareness on campus, as did the community discussions leading up to this report. Student and staff orientations provide opportunities for such discussions.

5) A National Forum: MIT should 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.

In the National Arena:

1) US Congress: Although Congress does not seem disposed at the moment to change the laws governing homosexuals in the military, it is important that MIT's views on these issues be known and that MIT take whatever action is appropriate - either on its own or in collaboration with such organizations as the American Council on Education, the American Association of Universities, and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network - to bring about changes in those laws that now discriminate against homosexuals in the military.

2) Federal Courts: It is already evident that significant challenges to current federal laws and DOD regulations regarding homosexuals in the military are being raised in the courts, and that one or more of these challenges will eventually reach the Supreme Court. When it is appropriate to do so, MIT will file an amicus brief.

3) National Consortium: MIT will explore with other colleges and universities the possibility of organizing a consortium that would provide a continuing focus on the issues surrounding the presence of ROTC on campuses throughout the country. This consortium could provide, among other things, a means by which the ROTC and homosexual communities on campuses could communicate with each other and an agency by which education on these issues can be carried out throughout the country.


[7] The awarding of DOD scholarships to ROTC cadets and the commissioning of ROTC cadets as military officers are activities that are not conducted or administered by MIT.

[8] Appendix IV summarizes the work of the MIT ROTC Working Group, established in 1991 to develop a program of action to change DOD policy.

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

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