Abolishing 'H-A' Jolts 250 Seniors
President Nixon's April 23 decision to abolish H-A occupational draft deferments will upset the plans of 200 to 250 Harvard students, according to John B. Fox '59, director of the Office of Graduate and Career Plans.
Out of 1100 seniors, approximately 660 are eligible for the draft physically, and about one-third of these men planned on occupational deferments. Fox said.
Local draft boards can now review and revoke the deferments of seniors holding H-A's for jobs they will take after graduation.
Colonel Paul F. Feeney, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Selective Service System, said, however, that under a special clause, "those lads being deferred or who had a claim pending before April 23 could still be considered for an occupational deferment" at the discretion of their local boards.
Those men trying to get occupational deferments through VISTA no longer stand any chance at all of receiving a H-A. On April 23, VISTA authorities in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) notified all state draft directors that they were withdrawing their request for occupational deferments.
In addition, students holding H-A de-ferments for work they plan to do with VISTA in June stand a high chance of having their deferments revoked. Feeney said. "The deferment was predicted on the OEO request. If the local draft boards don't take the [April 23] request into consideration, they're rather remiss."
Feeney said that the extreme interpretation of Nixon's directive would be for local draft boards to revoke immediately all H-A's, regardless of whether men are presently in the Peace Corps, teaching. or the like. "More likely." Feeney said, "they would allow the present deferments to run out before they review them."
For the past few years, teaching has been one of the major ways for Harvard seniors to avoid the draft. Fox said that in the Class of '67. only 24 men became teachers but the Class of '69 produced 138 teachers. He termed those seniors "borderline cases" who have already written their local boards but who are not actively engaged in teaching or another deferrable occupation.
Fox said that for those seniors who planned on H-A's, "divinity school is still conceivable," but that it is too late for medical school. Joining Reserve units is another possibility for men who do not wish to get drafted, he added.