The Case Against NSA

The Student Council has decided to let a referendum determine whether Harvard rejoins the National Student Association. It is clear from the report of the council's observers that many of the procedural faults of the NSA which were instrumental in Harvard's withdrawal last year have been corrected, and it seems reasonable to assume that those remaining soon will be. The decision revolves, therefore, upon the basic issue of whether NSA is the type of organization in which Harvard wishes to be a member. The answer is no.

NSA claims to represent the views of its member schools. It is not an association of college students or delegates representing their views, but a federation of delegates from student governments. The pronouncements and resolutions of the NSA convention are presented as those of the participating schools, although there does exist provision for an objecting school to disassociate itself. At the same time it offers itself to the public as representing all the students. This role is demonstrated by its actions and votes at international conferences of students where its masquerade as the voice of American students finds ready acceptance, notwithstanding the occasional verbal denial of such a role by officers of NSA.

Students in the U.S., unlike those in so many other countries, do not form a cohesive body. They have not, if you like, a class consciousness. And so for the Student Council report to say "The National Student Association is premised on the assumption that the American student community, in pursuing a common aim of knowledge, can work together as a group. . ." is to invent fiction.

To judge by the apathy of students at Harvard to the whole issue of NSA membership last year, there is little such feeling among students here. Membership will not be a cure-all for that apathy, deplorable as it may be. There is no assurance that the pontifications of Harvard delegates to the NSA conferences truly represent the opinion of the student body; they must speak for themselves since apathy prevents expression of most views on the value of the Association. When the disadvantage of personal representation is weighed against the supposed advantage of membership in a non-representative group, the decision is clear: Harvard should not rejoin NSA.