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MONTREAL, May 18--Secretary of Defence Robert S. McNamara today proposed that every young person in the United States be required to give two years of service to his country, either in the military or some voluntary service like the Peace Corps.
McNamara said that this system would help remove what he called the "inequity" of the present Selective Service System, by asking every young person in the country to serve. Then questioned, he said that a program "would include young women on a volunteer basis at first."
The Secretary of Defense spoke at a luncheon of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, attended by about 500 U.S. and Canadian editors.
McNamara said that "legislation would ultimately be enacted to implement the program." Associates in Washington, however, declined to say whether this was an official proposal, and said that they had no further information.
Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver called the Secretary's suggestion "an extremely significant proposal for all Americans.
McNamara said the idea of government service for all young people had been criticized no inappropriate" while we are engaged in a shooting war. But I believe precisely the opposite is the case," he said. "It is more appropriate now than ever." McNamara continued, "for it would underscore what our whole purpose is in Vietnam and indeed anywhere in the world where coercion or injustice or lack of decent opportunity still hold away."
He added that universal service "would make meaningful the central concept of security: a world of decency and development--where every man can feel that his personal horizon is rimmed with hope."
Well-informed sources in Washington said that the government's study of the draft, begun two years ago, was being reoriented in favor of universal service. The report, they said, will be published next month although details of the plan are still incomplete.
McNamara's proposal reflected increasing criticism on the part of students are educators of the present draft procedure. Ten days ago, representatives from universities, philanthropic foundations, and governmental agencies recommended that alternate service, such as the Peace Corps, be accepted to equivalent to military service.
More recently, there have been a number of student demonstrations protesting alleged inequities in the draft. Students at the University of Chicago this week ended a sit-in against the draft, and yesterday more than 250 students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison continued a sit-in for the third day.
The beginning of the Madison sit-in on Monday precipated a wider student criticism of the draft. Tuesday night the student senate passed a resolution urging the University not to cooperate with the Selective Service System. As a result of the Senate's action, Robben Fleming, chancellor of the Madison campus, agreed yesterday to hold an emergency faculty meeting Monday to discuss the draft. He said that two students would be allowed to attend the meeting and that the meeting's proceedings would be piped into an auditorium where other students could listen.
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