Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 13, 1995

Keep ROTC but Oppose Ban on Gays, Survey Urges

By Dennis O'Shea

     Students, faculty and staff at Homewood overwhelmingly
oppose Pentagon restrictions on homosexuals in the military, but
don't want to abolish ROTC at Hopkins in protest, a survey has
     Just what tactic they would approve to attempt to overturn
the policy is less clear. By a 2-to-1 margin, respondents to the
survey said Hopkins should keep trying to resolve the conflict
between ROTC practice and the university's own non-discrimination
     But respondents were about evenly split on whether that
action should include direct university pressure on the Defense
     "The respondents are telling us ... they believe very
strongly in Hopkins' anti-discrimination statement," said Robert
J. Massa, associate dean for enrollment management. "Two-thirds
of them say we ought to do something about this. The question is:
     The survey, distributed last semester by the Homewood
student council with support from Dr. Massa's office, was
designed to provide a framework for deliberations by a
campus-wide committee chaired by Dr. Massa.
     The Committee on ROTC Policy is charged with recommending
university action in light of the government's decision not to
completely dismantle its ban on gays and lesbians in the armed
forces. That ban also applies to campus-based Reserve Officer
Training Corps programs.
     The Clinton administration took office in 1993 promising to
drop the ban, but was forced by opposition in Congress and the
military to settle for a compromise: the "don't ask, don't tell,
don't pursue" policy. It provides, essentially, that only gays
and lesbians who hide their sexual orientation may serve.
      About 1,200 of the 6,000 surveys distributed in the
Homewood schools last October were returned, Dr. Massa said.
About 65 percent of respondents said "don't ask, don't tell,
don't pursue" was not a justifiable policy. But an even larger
majority, 72 percent, said Hopkins ROTC should not be eliminated.
     Graduate students are the most opposed to Pentagon policy
and most willing to phase out ROTC. Undergraduates are the least
opposed to the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise; only 56
percent of undergrad respondents said it is unjustified, compared
with 80 percent of graduate student respondents.
     Undergrads are also the least willing to support elimination
of ROTC at Hopkins; 78 percent of them said "no" to a ROTC
phaseout, compared with 57 percent of graduate students.
     Faculty and staff fell generally between the two student
groups on these and other key questions in the survey.
     Though the survey did not ask respondents to explain their
answers, Dr. Massa said he believes the strong opposition to
abolishing ROTC derives mainly from a desire not to hurt Hopkins
students who benefit from ROTC scholarships.
     Doug Armstrong, a junior, co-chair of the student council's
ROTC committee and a member of Dr. Massa's campus-wide committee,
said he believes that sentiment is misguided. If Hopkins dropped
ROTC, he said, Hopkins students would be able to retain their
government scholarships while participating in ROTC programs at
Loyola College or Morgan State.
     Rick Sharma, co-chair with Armstrong of the student council
committee and also a member of Dr. Massa's committee, agreed that
Hopkins students could join ROTC elsewhere. But Sharma, a senior
and an ROTC cadet, said fewer Hopkins students would be able to
participate under such an arrangement. Cutting ROTC would limit
the educational opportunities available to Hopkins students, he
said. "You don't want to set that kind of precedent" at an
institution of Hopkins' caliber, he said.
     Dr. Massa said the survey, while useful, did not provide the
Committee on ROTC Policy with clear-cut guidance. The issue
"doesn't have an easily obvious solution," Armstrong agreed. 
     The Committee on ROTC Policy was created by President
Richardson in 1990 to monitor developments on the ROTC issue over
a five-year period while Hopkins joined other universities in
attempting to persuade the federal government to drop
restrictions on gays in the military. Other members are Bruce
Barnett, professor of physics and astronomy; Ed Bouwer, professor
of geography and environmental engineering; and Mary Ellen
Porter, special assistant to the dean of Homewood student
     The committee's final report updating the situation and
recommending future policy is due next fall, but Dr. Massa said
he hopes to complete it this semester, before President
Richardson's departure to assume the presidency of the Kellogg
     Other universities also continue to struggle with the issue;
some are  also looking for the middle ground that the Hopkins
community appears to seek between accepting government policy and
abolishing ROTC.
     Harvard University, for example, announced this month that a
trust fund separate from the university is being created to
accept private donations. Those donations--not Harvard money--
will be used to pay a fee to the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology that allows Harvard students to participate in ROTC at

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