Sign 'em Up, Ship 'em Out


An issue most students wished they'd never see reared its ugly head on Capitol Hill this year when President Carter asked Congress to register young people for the draft.

Egged on by the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and his own declining political fortunes, Carter asked Congress for funds to begin registering men and women between the ages of 18 and 26.

Students on college campuses across the country at first reacted with shock and protested Carter's plan. At Harvard more than 800 students braved the deadly cold of a winter night to rally against the president's program.

But as Carter's proposal got mired in Congressional bureaucracy, student demonstrations subsided and Congress began to scrutinize the plan.

In the spring, a House committee emphatically rejected Carter's call for registering women and eventually sent a proposal to the floor calling for post-office registration of men born in 1960 and 1961. The House passed the proposal and sent it on to the Senate.

Carter learned a basic lesson in civics when his proposal fell on hard times in the Senate. A subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee learned that federal agency budget requests would overrun budgetary ceilings and Carter's plan--which called for a $13.3 million budgetary supplement-- was put on the back burner.

Eventually, the proposal wound its way through the Appropriations Committee, but not without carrying an amendment by Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.) asking registrants whether they would be conscientious objectors.

That amendment may require the House to reconsider its earlier vote. But that won't happen until the Senate, which is considering the proposal now, gives its stamp of approval to the plan.

And Hatfield's promise to filibuster the bill probably won't speed up the already slow process.

Up in Boston, apparently a few people did not believe that Hatfield's plan would succeed. A group of five, including two Harvard students, staged a sit-in at the Boston offices of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy '54 (D-Mass.) and a pair of the quintet later pleaded guilty to charges of refusing to leave federal property. A judge will sentence them this summer.