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February 13, 1995
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dennis O'Shea
Hopkins Survey Respondents Oppose Both
Students, faculty and staff at The Johns Hopkins
University's Homewood campus overwhelmingly oppose Pentagon
restrictions on homosexuals in the military, but don't want to
abolish ROTC at Hopkins in protest, a survey has found.
Gay Ban and
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 Massa's office, was designed to
provide a framework for deliberations by a campus-wide committee
chaired by 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 to faculty,
staff and full-time students in the School of Arts and Sciences
and the School of Engineering last October were returned, 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
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, 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 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 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
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 university
President William C. 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
The committee's final report updating the situation and
recommending future policy is due next fall, but Massa said he
hopes to complete it this semester, before President Richardson's
departure to assume the presidency of the Kellogg Foundation.
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
Harvard University, for example, announced this month that a
trust fund separate from the university is bring created to
accept private donations. Those donations -- not Harvard money --
will be used to pay a fee to Massachusetts Institute of
Technology that allows Harvard students to participate in ROTC at
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