If the proposed reduction of the minimum draft age from 21 to 18 is passed by Congress, 96.6 percent of all present undergraduates will be subject to selective service, according to a study of age and enrollment figures for the entire College.
The likelihood of the chance was made apparent when President Roosevelt said in his Tuesday press conference that he was studying a plan to make all men from the 18 to 30 eligible for compulsory service in the army.
Army officials have long favored a lower draft age, suggesting 18 to 22 as the proper training period. They have argued that a man is in his prime physical condition at that time, he is more amenable to rigorous discipline, and he is psychologically fit for army life.
No Senior Exempt
Not one member of the present Senior class would be exempt from registration if an 18-year old limit were set on July 1, and only 116 men in all of the four classes now in college would not have to register.
Even including next year's Freshmen and excluding this year's Seniors, 86.6% of the entire College would still be liable to army service. Practically 100% of the Class of 1942, 99.6% of 1943, and 88% of 1944 would be eligible. Although figures for 1945 are not yet available, past trends have shown that about 60% of entering Freshmen are over 18 and would thus be subject to registration.
One hundred and eighty-six men in the three lower classed registered on October 16, although none have yet been called into service. Fifty-five more reached the age of 21 during 1940 but after the original registration day.
Of those Juniors who did not become 21 last year, 389 will attain their majority this year, and only 111 will not.
The majority of this year's Sophomores will be 21 in 1942, and of this year's Freshmen in 1943. Thus the draft is certain to have a drastic effect on Harvard enrollment even if the age is not brought down to 18.
Official concern at Harvard over the situation was recently demonstrated in the questionnaire which was added to study cards for the first time this year. There questions were made out before the plan for reducing draft age was officially suggested, but the information received on the cards is of such nature that further general questioning of students will probably not be necessary.
Figures are not yet obtainable as to the number of Harvard students who will be rejected from the draft because of physical defects, since no men have actually been called as yet. If the national average 20% of the select as rejected is in effect here, 77.3% of all Harvard undergraduates would still be subject to service.