NSA Congress Opens Under TV Lights
Normally, David Langsam couldn't get an audience of more than 200 people even as president this year of Columbia University's student government.
But when he rises tomorrow to present the representatives of the "liberal caucus" here at the University of Maryland, he will face a group of over 1200 "student leaders" waiting in the cavernous, banner-filled convention hall under the lights of national television.
Langsam, a 22-year-old veteran of two such congresses who hopes eventually to go into politics, no longer finds the experience "such a great thing." But most delegates say they are "exhilarated" and "educated" by the wide-ranging program offered here--even if they know that much of it, as one radical says, is only "sandbox politics."
"It makes everybody feel important," says one former staff member. "It's a little like a dream taking over a whole campus for a week and a half.
The congresses often have great sigficance, for some of the most important ideas and organizations--the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, for example--have emerged from such affairs in the past decade.
Though under great challenge from the left radicals who want to abolish the organization, most NSA officers think that the organization is basically stronger now that it has broken with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Some believe that it has even gained from the publicity on the theory that, as Richard Stearns, International Affairs vice-president, says, "Any publicity is good publicity."
This Congress, at any rate, is twice as well attended as the last and many times better covered by newspapers and television.
An overwhelming number of delegates are united in their opposition to the Vietnam war and President Johnson and their belief that NSA must deal more effectively with student problems such as curriculum reform and drugs.
Representing Harvard at the Congress is Dan McGraw, a Winthrop House Senior and chairman of the Harvard Undergraduate Council, who led a fight earlier this week for an amendment that would have prevented NSA from taking policy stands unless they were tied to specific actions on campus. The amendment, supported principally by radicals from the University of Michigan at Wayne State, failed by a vote of 302 to 133.
Also attending the conference is Craig Stewart of Leverett House, who spoke in opposition to the radical amendment on behalf of the moderate caucus.
The Congress will vote tomorrow on policy stands concerning the war in Vietnam, the draft, unrest in the urban ghettoes, black power, and student power.