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College students and the draft a topic for the eleven hundred and fifty third consecutive broadcast of the Georgetown University radio forum. Another in a series of educational and informative programs from Washington D.C. The Georgetown forum was founded in 1946. This is Wallace Manning speaking to you by transcription from the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of Georgetown University historic Jesuit seat of learning in the nation's capital. Today's discussion will be college students and the draft participating are Mrs. Betty Vetter executive director of the scientific manpower commission and editor of manpower comments. And Mr. Michael Tigar attorney at law Williams and Connolly and editor in chief of the Selective Service Law reporter. Last February the National Security Council ruled that draft deferment for graduate students is no longer essential to the nation's health safety or
interest. The only exception made was for medical students. Now graduate students and recent college graduates are primary targets for the draft. For example in September October November of this year 20 percent of all draftees had one or more college degrees as compared to four percent in 1967. Many educators manpower specialists and concerned citizens question the advisability of that draft policy. They predict that it could cause a serious shortage of qualified teachers scientists and other and other professional specialists which ultimately could affect our nation's ability to carry out its commitments both at home and abroad. Today the Georgetown University forum has invited two guests to discuss our selective service policy as better as a manpower specialist is worried about the short and long range effects of drafting our best educated young man Mr. Tigar an authority on draft law and its administration feels
that more should be known about individual rights and about deferments and exemptions for specific situations. So we're going to begin by asking Mr. Tigar if it is true that youngsters are generally uninformed or misinformed about the draft law requirements. I don't think there's any question that it's true. There are approximately a thousand pages of regulations written in bureaucratese are legal each whichever you prefer that have to do with the rights of a young man during the 17 years from 18 to 35 that he's likely to be subject to the selective service laws. And yet the local board members who are volunteers generally are uninformed about the regulations and feel no obligation to inform registrants about their rights. The local board clerk who's usually. G.S. three clerical employee is not required to know what the regulations are. The government appeal agent a private attorney who is there to advise registrants about their rights
is usually pretty much uninformed and also has as a matter of regulation the obligation to represent both the registrant and the Selective Service System the kind of conflict of interest in a classic sense. Well most high school counselors teachers and principals don't feel any obligation to inform young men of their rights and obligations under the Selective Service Law even while they are informing them about the colleges they might go to in the armed services in which they might enlist if they chose to do so. So that I think that the experience certainly that I've had and I suspect that which misses veterans had confirms the judgment that was made by the Marshall commission chaired by Bart Marshall which had on it such eminent figures as King and Brewster of Yale and the Reverend John Courtney Murray confirm the judgment of the Marshall commission that registrants are today. Mostly uninformed about the options that are available to them under the Selective Service Law.
Are you saying Mr Geiger that not only that are they uninformed but also the draft boards are uninformed. To a great extent. Now can you. Can you tell me how the draft boards are appointed or constituted how to how to how do these people happen to be in that job. The draft board members are appointed by the president on recommendation of the governor of each state. There are from three to five members of each local draft board and they're required to be citizens. They can't be members of the armed forces and until the change in the law in 1967 they had to be men. They can't say for more than 25 years or after their 75. And that change also came about in 1967 and it resulted in some draft board members who are as old as 90 91 years of age having to retire. The main appeal board to return at once is I think an important thing
in addition to what Mr. Tigar was saying in regard to the draft law that individual registrants are required by the law to be informed although there is no specific provision in the law to see that they are. But unlike almost any other law in this country the rights of a Selective Service registrant are forfeited if not what is known in the law as a timely manner. If they're not used at the right time in the right way they are forfeited and if this is not this is because of ignorance the young man simply has forfeited his rights. On the other hand his obligations which are the second part of the set up here he's required to know and to carry out and if he fails to carry out those he is of course prosecuted for doing so in one form or another or reclassified. But it's the only law I know of. In which you are required to know your rights but nobody is required to tell you your rights and if you don't know them and don't use them you have forfeited them.
Let me give you an illustration of what is meant by forfeiture there because I think that's one of the things that's at the heart of the present controversy over the Selective Service Law. If a young man is let us say entitled to clearly entitled to a deferment because he's a father. And yet if he doesn't know that he's entitled to that deferment because he's married and has a child lives with him and doesn't claim it and is ordered to report for induction goes down to the induction center and somehow finds out along the way that he should have been deferred so he steps forward and immediately sues to obtain his release from the armed forces on the grounds that he never should have been inducted in the first place. The courts of the United States with only one or two exceptions will hold that his failure to claim that deferment in the administrative process before the local board causes him to forfeit his right to have the court evaluate his claim the board made a mistake. Now with the income
tax laws if I made a mistake last year on my income tax return I can file an amended return to get a refund. Unfortunately that's not true in the Selective Service System. To take another example let us suppose the young man never finds out he was entitle to his deferment as happened recently in the District of Columbia with regard to a high school student. High school students by statute Congress isat are entitled to be deferred to complete their education or until they become 20 years of age. This young man was never informed that he had a right to that deferment was drafted and he was killed in Vietnam a couple of months ago. That's another and somewhat more poignant kind of forfeiture in your original example Mr Geiger. Was this as a case for a similar case like this been carried as high as the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has. To my knowledge never dealt with precisely this situation that is what happens to a young man
who doesn't know what his rights were under the system. About a month and a half ago the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit covers California Nevada Oregon Washington and Alaska. Finally made a little breach in this wall of a rule about forfeiture and said that if you didn't know what the administrative procedure was that you had to follow you would not be penalized in the courts for failing to follow it. That is you could get judicial review. That of course doesn't help the young fellow who gets inducted and then is killed or injured in service that only deals with the fellow who at some time before it's too late learns about his rights and can go to court to try to enforce them. There's another way in which you can find out and that is through an appeal agent attached to his board. If you notice first of all that the appeal agent might be of help to him. But in the case such as he was using as an example in the first place the case of the man who is a father and didn't claim his exemption. The rule is very plain that a
fatherhood deferment can be claimed only prior to the issuance of an order for induction and therefore the young man who didn't find out before the order came out but did find out on his way to the bus station that he was entitled to a father different can no longer claim it because he has profited it simply by virtue of having had an induction order outstanding against him. Now you talk about an appeal agent. We haven't mentioned that up until then. What is what is this appeal agent that is connected with our local board. That is a man connected to every local board has an appeal agent usually a lawyer. Who is set up to advise the registrar as to his rights and the local boy as to its rights and its duties and the regulations so he wears two caps to his two camps and this of course sometimes makes it a little difficult I'm sure. It's as if the prosecutor and its opposite might defend sounds of defense counsel for the same man and he is
required under the rules to serve both the registrant with equal diligence sort of a Solomon like performance right. Well Mike in that regard I hope that he functions from a steady your base of knowledge then. And you implied that the average draft board member does. I'm afraid that's just not so. The government appeal agent is a private practitioner. It is he's a busy lawyer engaged in the private practice of law. He's a volunteer it doesn't get paid for what he does and he therefore has no impetus and very little time to get into and understand this more than a thousand pages of regulatory material let alone all the many many court decisions that have construed these regulations. And the other publications that might give him some such as those of Mrs. veterans organization that might give him
some insight into the operation of the Selective Service Law. One of the things that the Selective Service Law reporter has tried to do of course is to make it possible for men such as government appeal agents or private lawyers to have one book that sits on your desk all of the fragment regulatory provisions. Unfortunately the Selective Service System has up to now declined to give us a list of government appeal agents so that we can inform them that it's available. And if you look at the kinds of materials the jet the Selective Service System has sent out to try to inform government APL agents of the regulations they're just terribly inadequate. It comes to six or seven mimeographed pages which is hardly enough to summarize all of this material. Have you been given any reason why you can't get such a list. No there hasn't been any reason and I suspect that eventually the Selective Service System will make it possible for us to communicate with government appeal agents I don't want to imply that they withhold information because if you know what you want
and if you go to the national headquarters and ask for it I found that the personnel there particular captain Pascoe the public information officer are very very cooperative and we certainly have no complaints on that score no nor have we. It's a matter of the information not always being available to the person who needs to know it if you don't know what it is you need to ask for. You not. It doesn't help you know what's a 17 year old boy going to know about asking nothing he will receive not much when he goes down to register he'll fill out a long questionnaire detailing his family status Matal status whether he's a conscientious objectors physical condition and so on. He'll then be given a couple of little pamphlets little pieces of paper which are about all six inches by six inches folded once in half. That list all of various classifications with a one or two word indication as to what they are and tell him that he has a right to
appeal from an adverse determination by his local board. That's all of these going to get out of the Selective Service System. And I see I'm trying to find it somewhere else. That's about all. What can you give me some examples of what a young man might might be able to capitalize on the family knew about there are two kinds of questions here the first is what ought people to do the president with the stroke of a pen or the Congress with a simple bill could provide that every Selective Service registrant would get a booklet like the booklet that comes with your income tax return every year. Schools in the local community. Every local community where this broadcast is being heard the local schools can see to it that this kind of information was made available. And that brings you to the second question the Selective Service Law reporter of course is designed mainly for lawyers and lay draft counselors. National organizations such as the central committee for conscientious objectors of the American Friends Service
Committee that have counseling services that is that will inform you about your rights under the Selective Service System and I've been doing so for a number of years. This is veterans organization distributes a quite good pamphlet that summarizes the draft law so that a young man could write to Mrs. Vedder to get the information that she distributes or a teacher or a counselor who wanted to take some initiative in this regard. Other than that there isn't a great deal that can be done. Those with the means to do so can of course retain counsel in their own communities. Those without the means to do so interesting the enough can more and more and more every day go to their neighborhood legal services office the poverty program office because we found that the law reporter is. Going into a large number of these offices across the country which indicates to me at least that there is some interest in making available to residents of Wired inner city areas into the poverty areas out in the
countryside. Accurate information about selective service. So all of these means are available. There are a number of excellent counselling services but I think many young men are driven away from days by their names which I think in vain. Unfortunately a number of them are called draft resistance centers in some form or another the word resistance appears in the title and are indeed accurate information for individuals who are not concerned with being resisters but just concerned with the rule of law is available in the centers generally. Still if the title says resistance I think this tends to drive away the young man that we're talking about the perfectly ordinary kid who is trying to do what he's supposed to do but doesn't quite know what it is that he's supposed to do and doesn't always rights or his obligations. Also I think these organizations such as the central committee for country interests objectors are sort of as having a kind of religious overtone and only if you're a pacifist ought you to go to them. Well that was true right. Yes that was true 20 years ago.
But one of the things that's happened in the last five years is that with the and particularly in the last two years of the abolition of the graduate student deferment and the dramatic changes that that's had in bringing into the draft eligible pool a lot of fairly well-educated people. The dramatic change has been that these old line organizations such as the central committee for conscientious objectors in the American Friends Service Committee have broadened their interest to cover the whole range of selective service administrative problems so that today they are quite competent in this field and of course the same but again there are not a lot of private lawyers off I mean not only that but I think they also turn off a lot of middle aged middle Americans you know in the summer. And they just know that that alone is enough to discourage them even inquiring into what these organizations are other than to possibly raise a suspicion in their minds that they may be communist inspired or something of that nature.
And that's that's really too bad because a number of young men fighting as a result of American foreign policy in Vietnam are coming today to re-evaluate their attitudes toward war and towards institutionalized violence. And the Catholic Church many prominent laypeople and churchmen have come to analyze the Catholic doctrine about whether and under what circumstances war is justified the same thing is happening with the Lutherans Unitarians. All of the major denominations it seems are confronting the questions raised by the country into subject or exemption and. The kind of visceral reaction that a number of middle aged people or people of any age have against the notion of conscientious objection is really unfortunate because a lot of young people are searching for answers here and this is another place to question which
responsibility has to be taken here by church people. Well yes but you know you have to come down to the rudiments of the matter and you can forgive if they are considering whether there is the risk of losing the structure of the very structure within your your democracy functions. You've always got that final question that you come down to and each one in its own way has to find the answer what where where do you fight or where you not fight. This is one of the things that mixes up the whole situation it's because there are so many factors involved which are for most young people involved with the draft and certainly for I would think most that laypersons even a A in middle age which ought to be separated but are not and that they are separable quantities but they are not separated by the people
who are involved with them the problem. Whether or not the draft is fair has gotten completely mixed up with the problem of how do we follow that constitutional provision that sees that we maintain what is necessary to provide for the common defense. So the Viet Nam war is all mixed up with this constitutional requirement and it gets a great many young people quite upset and also a great many people who are older than a problem should be separated but they are not. The need for accurate information in regard to the draft should be a separable entity from the desire for counseling in terms of one's interpersonal feelings about peace are any of these things. And yet it's not separated by the titles of the groups available to young people to help them. And I think this is where we get into a great deal of the problem.
When I. I think that there is a great deal of this overlapping that is to say an overlapping between working out your personal feelings toward war and toward knowing your rights under the Selective Service System but I don't think that's the fault of organisations such as the central committee for conscientious objectors. This nation has had really ever since the days of the colonial militia and exemption for those who were opposed to participation in war on religious grounds. We have trouble every time in our nation's history when we try to legislate about people's morals or their religious beliefs. And here we have a statute that says if you have a religious objection to participation in war in any form you're entitled to not go into the military but rather to perform two years of alternative civilian service or if you are object only to doing combatant service you're entitled to serve as a noncombatant for example as a medic. And we need accurate and timely advice in this field just as well as
in any other. And it was in that respect that I spoken of that obligation to try to work out to help the young man work out whether or not his own views fit what the law has to say is one in which there has to be a great deal of independent work by people in the churches as well as by schools and lawyers and organisations such as Mrs betters to just distribute information about the draft law reason for that is that local board members have moral misconceptions about country subject to law than about any other portion of the Selective Service Law. Except perhaps occupational reform which would almost match. And I suspect that's probably true but more important than that the Marshall Commission found that in the one state in which they could do a statistical study that 55 percent of the local board members didn't think there should be any country intersubjective exemptions so that you encounter this kind of resistance on the part of the local boards which can only be
overcome by patient explanation of what the law requires them to do when they find somebody who is indeed sincere in his opposition to war. Is there any problem with respect to the definition of conscientious objection. That would take him more time than you have left in this program probably take an hour and a half or so just to get at the outlines. The two basic problems today are the definition of religion. Religious training and belief. Given the contemporary theological debate which has tended to result in a consensus that religion means something radio broader than it did say a hundred years ago. The second problem focuses on the meaning of the requirement that the registrant be opposed to participation in war in any form. This ramify is into two sub questions the first the so-called selective objector and second the question raised by the registrant who
says any war that I can do that I can think of I wouldn't want to fight in. But I am willing to use violence in self defense or defense of my home or to stop a madman on the street. The guy was willing to use individual violence in other words in certain limited circumstances but feels that he can't put on a uniform and be a soldier. These pose very difficult legal problems. The second has been pretty well settled by some decisions of the Supreme Court and other decisions followed. The first is still a topic of wide open debate. This is better in our opening remarks we talked about your concern. But see here with the short and long range effects of drafting our best educated young men. This is that is that really the criterion I mean should a man be drafted or not drafted if they're very well educated.
I was saying a man who hasn't had the educational opportunities of this person about I believe that the requirement to maintain the common defense was set up by the Founding Fathers on the basis that this was necessary to the national security therefore the way of choosing who shall serve in a military capacity who shall serve for example making military equipment and that sort of thing. Also it seems to me it should be based principally on how is the national interest best served. We know that less than 10 percent of all our young man managed to complete four years of college. But if we you was not in the military but as draftees which is quite different if we use as draftees and by definition this is a group of men who will face no job requiring even a high school education. If were you in that slot those
persons and home the nation has a very extensive commitment in their educational programs and of course taxpayers pay for education even the parents paying tuition may think they pay at all. If we miss utilize or fail to utilize the training in which we have invested so much I think we take a risk in the future as we cut down on our supply of teachers for the next generation of highly educated people. We certainly run a risk that we may find ourselves short and the lead time for preparing such specialists is a minimum of four years and we cannot suddenly overnight by government figure out how to turn the high school dropout into the graduate scientist if we are short cut on the wrist. I think that this problem that is to say the impact of the draft on graduate students and people that would otherwise have been deferred raises a whole series of questions that we obviously haven't time to discuss today and certainly in the ninetieth Congress one of the
things that's going to be considered is whether or not this difficulty that we perceive might be solved by going to something such as a volunteer army. And I only want to say that all of the policy choices that are available reinstating the graduate deferment volunteer army and so on very seriously to be considered by everybody who's going to be watching what the ninetieth Congress does about the draft laws. Thank you very much for your discussion of college students and the draft. Mrs. Betty Vetter executive director of the scientific manpower commission and editor of manpower comments and Mr. Michael Tigar attorney at law Ted Williams and Connelly and editor in chief of the Selective Service Law reporter. You have attended the weekly discussion program in the Georgetown University radio forum broadcaster which was transcribed in the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of historic Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Next week you'll hear discussed students look at U.S. foreign policy. A panel at
Georgetown forum
College students and draft
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Georgetown University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features Betty Vetter, executive director, Scientific Manpower Commission; Michael E. Tiger, attorney and editor, Selective Service Law Reporter.
Series Description
Moderated by Wallace Fanning, this series presents a panel of guests discussing a variety of topics. The radio series launched in 1946. It also later aired on WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. These programs aired 1968-69.
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Social Issues
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Guest: Vetter, Betty M.
Guest: Tiger, Michael E.
Moderator: Fanning, Wallace
Producing Organization: Georgetown University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-51-640 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:49
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Chicago: “Georgetown forum; College students and draft,” 1969-01-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 9, 2022,
MLA: “Georgetown forum; College students and draft.” 1969-01-03. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 9, 2022. <>.
APA: Georgetown forum; College students and draft. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from