Harvard is unlikely to adopt a stronger policy on the military draft. Dean Monro said recently that he thought the University adequately protected students on leaves of absence, and that taking a harder line would raise serious questions of equity.
Already, he pointed out, the children of middle- or upperclass parents can escape the draft by going to college, while those from lower classes cannot afford a deferment.
"I don't think this is a healthy situation in regard to patriotism," Monro said. He would not say, however, whether he thought abolishing the draft would be desirable.
Although he expressed interest in a Yale program that will allow students to spend a year abroad without becoming eligible for military service, he said he would like to see how the system worked before taking any action.
Yale's foundation-financed program will allow students to take five years to earn bachelors' degrees and to spend one of these "living and working" in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. During this year they are considered to be enrolled in the college and are therefore exempt from the draft.
In contrast, participants in Harvard's Project Tanganyika must take a leave of absence if they wish to spend a full year in Africa. Monro said, however, that the University has had "good luck in explaining this kind of thing to the draft board." "Our faculties would be dubious about trying to stretch an umbrells over someone not actually enrolled in school," he added.
Harvard's procedure is to have an undergraduate's senior tutor communicate with his local draft board, explaining that the student, although not enrolled in Harvard College, is expected to return.
"It wouldn't do any good for us to make a plea," Monro explained. "What the boards are interested in is the circumstances of a student's absence."