Michael L. Spiegel '68 was elected national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society at the organization's annual convention in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Spiegel, who is taking a leave of absence from Harvard next year, has already taken up full-time duties at SDS national headquarters in Chicago. He receives a salary of $10 a week.
He describes his position as "chief administrative and political officer" of SDS. "I'll handle financial matters and intra-organizational communications, supervise New Left Notes, and make speeches," he explained.
Spiegel shares political authority with two other national secretaries.
Spiegel joined SDS only last September. He said he became interested in the organization by chance last summer when he happened to room with a radical.
He credited his election to the fact that he has "no firm political line." "My political views are still very much in the process of developing," he said. "I guess people just thought they're developing in the right direction," he added.
The draft will continue to be the major focus for SDS agitation against the war, Spiegel said. He said that the June convention adopted by far the strongest antidraft resolution SDS has made. The statement advocated carrying the draft campaign into the army to preach desertion.
Spiegel criticized Vietnam Summer, the nationwide anti-war canvassing campaign. Although many SDSers have joined Vietnam Summer projects which seemed to have "radical potential." Spiegel thought the organization as a whole was oriented too much toward conventional electoral politics. "Electoral politics is not the easy way to bring change," he said.
"Instead of building power blocs within the system electoral politics people must take over part of the system for themselves," he explained. The point of SDS projects like labor organizing, student power drives, and draft resistance is to give back to people the power to control the decisions that effect their lives.
SDS's membership will triple or quadruple next year. Spiegel predicted, and may even reach 50,000. There are presently about 6500 members who pay dues to the national office, many more local members. Spiegel said that at Harvard alone, 14 people joined the organization in the last two weeks of May.