If the current Administration backed Selective Service bill is passed this spring-and Washington sources have indicated the chances are quite good-large numbers of college underclassmen will suddenly be exposed to the draft.
The bill presently before the House Armed Services Committee (Senate Committee hearings ended yesterday), recommends the abolition of virtually all student deferments as President Nixon urged last April 23. If it becomes law, Nixon will be free to change the deferment system.
Nixon has said repeatedly that only those eligible for a II-S deferment on April 23, 1970, will continue to be eligible for the classification. Under this plan, a large majority of currently enrolled freshmen and some sophomores will lose their student deferments.
Divinity School deferments (IV-D) are also scheduled to be abolished, although students enrolled prior to January 29, 1971, will not be affected.
Last January 28, President Nixon asked Congress for a two-year extension of his power to induct men into the armed forces. (This would be the first two-year extension since General Custer's time-all previous extensions have been for four years.)
On the same day, responding to the request, Sen. John B. Stennis (D Miss.) introduced a bill to enable the President to draft the men he wants until July 1, 1973, and to make rules regarding student deferments.
Although the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, F. Edward Hebert (D-La.) has insisted that the President already has the power to abolish undergraduate deferments, there has been considerable Administration pressure for a special congressional provision specifically giving the President such power.
However, there has been increasing support for a complete abolition of the draft in the current Armed Services Committee hearings, Washington sources indicated yesterday.
A number of possible reforms-ranging from a one-year extension of Nixon's power to draft men to the actual abolition of the draft-were discussed at yesterday's hearings in the Hebert committee. Bella Abzug (D-N. Y.) testified yesterday that the draft was "slavery," and as such, should be ended.
The impact to the Harvard community was assessed last night by Admissions Dean Chase Peterson: "If, in fact, this plan does go through, we will probably be forced to increase our admission of transfer students drastically in order to fill up the empty beds."
However, it is unlikely that students will be drafted in mid-semester or even mid-year. Vice Admiral William P. Mack, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, reached last night at his Alexandria, Va. home, said, "I don't think we would ever draft men in the middle of the year-it would confuse things terribly."