Nine Harvard students will spend spring vacation in Illinois, ringing doorbells and making phone calls as "ERA Missionaries" in an effort to rally the support needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment before the July 30 deadline.
Harvard's "ERA action team" students working to publicize the ratification campaign--signed up the nine volunteers as part of a last ditch nation-wide push to "educate the voting public on the truth behind the myth in the amendment," which has encountered increasing national opposition, Katherine K. Baker '84, coordinator of the project, said.
At present, the approval of three state legislatures is needed to ratify the amendment. Illinois, one of 15 unratified states, is a key target, Baker said.
"We need our rights guaranteed People don't realize that if the ERA doesn't pass it will he 15 or 20 years before we get the chance again," she added.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) began the "missionary" effort in a direct response to Morman opposition to the amendment in Utah. Janet Ferare, vice president for public relations of the Cambridge NOW chapter, said yesterday.
Baker said the "personal" approach is what is needed in the ERA campaign. Julie A. Rapoport '84, who worked an ERA Missionary in Florida over Christmas break, added voters' misconceptions are holding the amendment back. After she read the amendment out loud to voters they would say. "But where's the part about co-ed bathrooms, abortion and homosexuality?" Rapoport said.
The ERA action team held a reception yesterday in Lowell House to raise the $1000 needed to fund the mission's expenses. Betty Friedan, a founder of NOW and fellow at the Kennedy School this spring, attended the event and called the Harvard effort an "important" part of the ERA effort. "It's going to take a miracle. but I can't give up hope," added Friedan.
Women that grew up since the start of the women's movement take "a lot of their privileges for granted. "Stephanie L. Sugin, a visiting student from Northwestern and a member of the Illinois team, said.