22 Per Cent Vow Draft Resistance In Senior Survey

Copyright Harvard CRIMSON Inc., 1968

One out of every four seniors at Harvard is looking forward to either fleeing the country or going to jail in order to avoid induction if his application for deferment is turned down, a recent poll conducted by the CRIMSON revealed.

Of the 529 students--43 per cent of the class--who answered the questionaire, 61 per cent--292 students--say that they would "serve' if all their applications for deferment are turned down. Eleven per cent--52 students--plan to leave the country, another 11 per cent--51 students--indicate that they would rather go to jail than serve, and 6 per cent--28 students--say they will fight induction in the courts. The remaining 12 per cent--57 students--did not classify themselves.

The poll, which was available to seniors in House dining halls for three days in December, asked questions about student attitudes on the draft and the war in Vietnam.

Against War Policy

Students reacted overwhelmingly against U.S. policy in Vietnam.

Among those polled 94 per cent--478 students--disapproved of U.S. policy in Vietnam while only 6 per cent--31 students endorsed LBJ's policy. The classic reproach to this kind of statistic is that many of the students who disapprove of U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam might do so on the grounds that the military effort should be increased. Not so. The poll reveals that only 1 per cent--six students--felt that "the military effort should be increased." The other 99 per cent are split as follows: 19 per cent--89 students--feel that "the military effort should be continued with an increased effort to achieve a negotiated peace;" 42 per cent--199 students--say that "the military effort should be reduced on the assmuption that it will lead to a negotiated peace;" and 38 per cent--179 students--indicate that "the U.S. should begin to withdraw immediately."

Third Won't Fight

While over three quarters of the students polled are confident that they will not be drafted next year, better than one out of every three indicates that he will refuse to follow orders to fight in Vietnam if he is drafted.

Some 59 per cent--298 students--said that they will "make a determined effort to avoid military service." When asked how they feel about entering the Armed Services, 8 per cent--39 students--said they will go with "enthusiasm," 13 per cent--65 students--classify themselves as "indifferent," while the remaining 78 percent--387 students--will be "reluctant" to enter into any contract with the military.

As for immediate military career plans 30 students intend to enlist, 13 will join the Reserves, and 44 plan some kind of military training such as ROTC. The other 424 students (or 83 per cent of the sample) have no immediate plans to "join up."

Graduate Deferments

Other students indicate that they are applying to specific areas of graduate study which will probably be draft-exempt. Some 132 students are applying to graduate schools in either math, medicine, engineering, science, or dental school -- all of these areas are almost certain to be exempted because they fall under the official definition of studies in the national interest. Twenty-five students are applying to graduate school in education or psychology -- areas which have not yet been declared exempt, but stand a fairly good chance of being recognized as valid for deferments. Finally, most of the 267 individuals who are applying to graduate school in the social sciences, humanities, business school, or law school are almost certain not to receive deferments next year.

On the medical exemptions some 82 students will apply for the IV-F deferments on the grounds that they are physically unfit to serve. Another 55 students will try to obtain I-Y deferments, usually a psychological exemption.

In addition, 23 seniors plan to apply for a IV-D deferment, reserved for divinity students or practicing ministers; 112 students will request occupational deferments; and 45 students will attempt to petition for conscientious objector status. Another 60 students will try to join either Vista or the Peace Corps which usually allow the student to at least put off military service.

Cross tabulations show that even those students who plan to enlist, join the Reserves, or start some kind of military training (such as ROTC) are neither enthusiastic about going into the Armed Services nor do they agree with U.S. policy in Vietnam. A small minority of these students who intend to start their military careers next year indicate that they would be unwilling to follow orders which sent them to fight in Vietnam.


Of the same 30 Harvard students who say they will enlist next year, two of them indicate that they will not fight in Vietnam. Five of those who are willing to go with "enthusiasm" while 16 of them indicate that they are joining only with "reluctance." Of those students enlisting, 85 per cent do not approve of U.S. policy in Vietnam. Two of these students think "the military effort should be increased," 10 of them feel the "military effort should be continued with an increased effort to achieve a negotiated peace," 10 of them argue that the military effort should be reduced "on the assumption that it will lead to a negotiated peace," and five of them feel that the U.S. should "begin to withdraw immediately."

Reserves and ROTC

None of the students who plan to join the Reserves approves of U.S. policy in Vietnam; two of them indicate that they would refuse to fight in Vietnam if their units were mobilized for that purpose. Three out of four of those joining the Reserves say that they are doing so only with "reluctance."

Students who plan to start some form of military training next year (ROTC) indicate that two of them will refuse to fight in Vietnam, 42 per cent are joining their training programs with reluctance (35 per cent are indifferent), 88 per cent do not approve U.S. policy in Vietnam, and 27 per cent (10 students) advocate immediate withdrawal as a solution to the war in Vietnam.

Students Expecting Induction

While only about one quarter of the students polled expect to be drafted next year, 96 per cent of those who do expect to be drafted disapprove of U.S. policy in Vietnam. None of them want the military effort to be increased, and 83 per cent of them either ask that the military effort be reduced or that the U.S. withdraw entirely. One out of every three of these students who expect to be drafted say that they will not follow orders to fight in Vietnam. Almost 60 per cent of the students in this category say that they will make a "determined effort to avoid military service."

Jail Bound

Among those students who say they will go to jail if their applications for deferment are rejected (a leading example of this will probably be seen among students in the non-sciences who request 2-S deferments for graduate work) 77 per cent advocate immediate withdrawal. The remaining 23 per cent want the military effort reduced. Of those who threaten to leave the country if called for induction, 71 per cent call for immediate withdrawal while 26 per cent want the war effort phased down