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Yesterday's announcement of the formation of a University Committee on Selective Service marks Harvard's official "mobilization" to take care of the many draft-age students who will need help and advice in deciding whether or not to apply for deferment.
Before the new committee was formed, the Dean's office had been the general dispenser of information. But since most of the students who registered last October must be re-classified in July, it was deemed necessary to establish a group whose members could supply perplexed students with assistance. Subsidiary to this central committee are smaller advisory boards in each department, informed and ready to boar the major burden of aiding the men concerned.
"Necessary Men" Deferred
Memoranda enclosed with President Conant's letter include references to the composition of Class II-A, in which are placed registrants found to be "necessary men in any industry, business, employment, agricultural pursuit, governmental service, or any other service or endeavor, the maintenance of which is necessary to the national health, safety, or interest in the sense that it is useful or productive and contributes to the employment or well-being of the community or the Nation."
Class II-A deferments, according to regulations, shall not be for a period longer than six months.
Officials of the University emphasized that the Selective Service Act specifically forbids blanket or wholesale deferments for any institution. They further pointed out that even if the student chooses to request deferment, and the Harvard selective service committee approves, the matter is still in the hands of the local draft board. The latter has full power to decide on the basis of the facts presented in each individual case whether or not the man in question is entitled to deferment.
In determining whether or not a student is a "necessary man," recommendations sent out last March by the national headquarters of the Selective Service System, advise the local board to give "due consideration to such factors as the length of time which the student has been pursuing the course in question, his relative progress and standing in such course, and his relative chances for employment or placement in the activity for which he is preparing."
Certain Fields Low in Personnel
Local boards, continued this memorandum, may at their discretion defer registrants for a short period to Class II, who are preparing or training for examinations held "under public authority" for persons desiring to be licensed in various professional and technical fields.
In another letter from national head-quarters, addressed to all State Directors of the draft, certain fields are listed in which there is a "dangerously low level of manpower." Among these are chemistry, and five different kinds of engineering.
But certain other occupations, "in which authorities allege that a shortage will exist," are also mentioned in this memorandum. Medicine, dentistry, physics, geology, bacteriology, pharmacy, are included in the latter, while naval architecture and industrial management are further suggested in a note from State headquarters to the presidents of Massachusetts colleges.
An important appendage to the letter from national headquarters is the statement: "It is directed that this release by disseminated to all local Selective Service agencies in your State as an expression of national policy in these fields."
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