As the war in the Persian Gulf nears its fourth week, talk of a possible military draft has escalated at the University and on Capitol Hill. And even though no legislation for a draft has been formally proposed, there has been considerable discussion in Washington, D.C., on the issue. Under current laws, according to Selective Service officials, graduate and undergraduate students would not be exempt from a draft. But Undergraduate and graduate students may apply to defer their service for the remainder of the current semester, according to Service spokesperson Barbi Richardson. Seniors or graduate students in their final year can apply to defer for the entire year, she added. Jesse Jackson, who serves in the Senate as Washington, D.C.'s "shadow senator," has called for a draft without college deferments to equate the racial balance in the armed forces. The Rainbow Coalition, Jackson's political base, reports that 30 percent of those involved in Desert Storm are black, 39 percent are black or hispanic, 17 percent are women and 49 percent of the women are black. Rainbow Coalition spokesperson Unnia Pettus said yesterday that Jackson feels it is unjust that only four children of congressmen and no son or daughter of a Chief Executive Officer at a "Top 500" company is serving in Operation Desert Shield. But despite the appeals of the Coalition and others, prospects for draft are not imminent, according to spokespersons for area legislative representatives. According to a spokesperson, Congressman Thomas Foglietta (D-Pa.), who represents the University area, is concerned that the military system is unfair, but has not taken a position yet on a potential draft since there is no legislation formally pending on the issue. And Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said in a December hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- his latest remarks on a draft -- that there were no plans to start a draft. "We have no plans at present to seek reimposition of the draft," Cheney said. "We don't believe it is necessary." But should a ground offensive occur, there has been speculation that the all-volunteer force will not be sufficient. "I certainly don't call for a draft but I do believe that we're not going to have the ability to sustain this level of forces," Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), chairperson of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in November. If a draft were to be reinstated, however, undergraduate and graduate students -- many of whom were exempt from a Vietnam War draft -- would be forced to serve, according to Selective Service spokesperson Richardson. Richardson said that after Congress passes a law instating the draft, her organization could begin to mobilize draftees within hours of the emergency measure. The first group are those who turn twenty in the calendar year of the legislation -- presently 1971 births. The system numerically progresses to age 24 then drafts 19-year-olds followed by 18-year-olds. After exhausting these populations, 25- and 26-year-olds would be called up, explained Richardson. Richardson cautioned that it is unlikely for the Selective Service to call up men older than 20-year-olds since each age group has between one-and-a-half to two million candidates for draft. In addition, after one calendar year those that were 19 fall into the 20-year-old bracket, and they would be the next to be mobilized. Rainbow Coalition's Pettus said yesterday that the group supports the current law which does not exempt college students from being conscripted into service. "If you are going to have a war, then it should represent all of America, including college students," Pettus said.Comments powered by Disqus
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