Activists Face Tough Registration Battle

News Analysis

Other anti-registration leaders stress that while dumping on a common enemy would be convenient, their main goal is to educate young people, telling them about the implications of registering, the various options open to them, and the necessity to prepare opposition forces in case of a draft.

The national Coalition Against Registration and the Draft (CARD), a Washington-based group, will turn more toward counselling high school students in the coming months, Duane Shanks, CARD spokesman, said yesterday.

"CARD would not tell anyone what to do, but we advise them to consider their actions and the possibility of not registering," Shanks explained, adding, "We do remind people that not signing up is a crime punishable by a prison sentence."

Leyland, who praised the efforts of counsellors under the supervision of American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, added that BAARD assures young men who call seeking advice that "if they are caught, the government always gives you a chance to sign up quietly before sending you to jail."

Leyland defended her group's more activist stance and criticized CARD's "careful legislative view." Tomorrow, BAARD members will try to close down the Harvard Square post office, and Leyland explained, "We are tired of petitioning Congressmen; we want to get out in the streets."


Once in the streets, however, BAARD has not been able to draw more than 50 people to any one protest. Last Saturday's sit-in in the McCormack Building, during which federal officers arrested 22 people, has highlighted the week's events. But Leyland and her compatriots will plug on.

"To get anyone out in this cold is an achievement," Greg Ward, another BAARD member, said at Tuesday's pine tree party.

Small turnouts indicate only that many people are on vacation or resisting passively at home, Leyland says, and she denies media reports that the movement is weaker in other parts of the country. "They (journalists) say it's quiet, that there's no ruckus, no violence. That's only because people are protesting more peacefully."

More people responded to last summer's initial round of registration of 19-and 20-year-olds because they were not in school or at work, Leyland added.

Furthermore, many people do not believe the Selective Service System's claim that 95 per cent of the eligible men complied with the summer registration. BAARD claims 25 per cent, or about one million people, did not register and adds that the turnout this week has also been light. No official statistics are kept by post offices, and the Selective Service has not yet collected any registration cards.

Shanks said the movement will probably pick up momentum as people realize that Reagan "will continue the militaristic program established by (President) Carter." But like many of his fellow protesters, he views the whole battle with a dissatisfied resignation, saying, "All in all, the whole situation is not very promising.

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