At their annual meeting held in Sanders Theatre on Tuesday, the National Association of Graduate School Deans endorsed a plan to scrap the present Selective Service laws in favor of a draft lottery. Their recommendations, which are similar to the ones made by the President's Marshall Commission last March and endorsed by the CRIMSON, give the Administration and Congress an excellent opportunity to reconsider the lottery as a method for draft selection.
The draft reform resolutions passed by the 44 deans--including J. Peterson Elder of Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences--will be sent to what Elder calls "the appropriate officials in Washington." Maybe the deans' decisions will come to the attention of the National Security Council--consisting of the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Director of the Office of Emergency Planning--which will recommend draft reforms to President Johnson early next year.
Specifically, the deans are calling for four reforms in the present Selective Service laws.
The first is induction by random selection from a pool of all draft-eligible men. Although the deans dodged the question of whether this pool should consist of high school, college or graduate school-age men, the CRIMSON has endorsed the Marshall Commission's recommendation that 19-year-olds and all older men holding student deferments should go into the lottery.
Such a lottery will achive a distribution of military service appropriate to this nation's democratic traditions. It will also remove the element of uncertainty--which Elder has called "bad for morale and a waste of our country's resources"--from student life.
The second reform is an end to general deferment of graduate students. "The national security transcends the interest of any individual or group of individuals," the deans said. This would prevent students who can afford higher education from flocking to graduate schools as a privileged sanctuary from the draft.
Third, the deans call for an end of special deferments to disciplines considered critical to the national welfare. "All fields of higher education are of equally critical importance to the continued welfare and balanced development of the nation," the deans said. They agree with the Marshall Commission that this should not include medical and dentistry students, who would enter the lottery pool upon graduation.
Finally, the deans are asking for induction only at "natural times of transition" in a student's career. They considered such times to be completion of high school, completion of the baccalaureate, and completion of the higher degree. While most sociologists feel that a break after high school in formal education would do students most good, the deans are certainly correct in saying that any of their alternatives will "create a minimum of disruption and uncertainty in the lives of those eligible for service" as compared to the present system.
These four reforms will help to correct the most glaring inequity of what Elder calls the "idiotic" Selective Service laws--the fact that college seniors and first-year graduate students are eligible for the draft while other graduate students are not. This not only creates undue confusion in university admissions and scholarship offices, but also forces a student drafted after acceptance by a graduate school to reapply after serving his hitch in the army.
The proposals of the graduate school deans, which represent the almost unanimous consensus of educators from all parts of the country, should stir government officials to act to eliminate the disruption, uncertainty and hardship caused by present draft laws.