Twenty Harvard students have volunteered to spend intersession or spring vacation campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in states that have not ratified the amendment. Sharon L. Reiss '84, coordinator of the ERA Action Team, said yesterday.
"I can't justify doing nothing about it, and I don't have time in my schedule, so I'm giving two weeks of unmitigated labor," Mary P. Yntema '85 said yesterday, adding. "It would be a very negative statement if the amendment didn't pass."
The ERA Action Team is working with the National Organization for Women (NOW), which will provide board for the students during their stay and train them in door-to-door campaigning, telephone canvassing and leafletting skills.
The vacation volunteer work is part of NOW's "countdown campaign," a campus organizing effort to convince the 15 states that have not ratified the ERA to pass the bill before its June 30 deadline. NOW has declared this week ERA awareness week.
Awareness of ERA's wording is important. Reiss said, adding that many people who are opposed to the amendment in theory change their minds when they read what it actually says. In an effort to inform people, members of the ERA Action Team will hand out cards with the text of the amendment printed on them this week.
The ratification process is not susceptible to public referendum. "If so it would have been passed years ago," Sally Lunt, vice chairman for the National Women's Caucus, said yesterday. It is a matter of how many state legislators vote for the bill but "lobbying pressure on the candidates is valid," she added in reference to the students' efforts. Reiss said she was optimistic that students, and other organizers would have a large impact.
The ERA Action Team and the Radcliffe Union of Students are co-sponsoring a benefit concert featuring the Din and Tonics, the Opportunes and the Mainly Jazz Dance Company in Lowell House this Sunday to raise money to send the volunteers to unratified states.
"What's the point of going to Harvard and getting an education if you're not going to get paid what you're worth when you leave," Carol F. Fox '85, who will work for ERA in Virginia during the intersession, said yesterday