Students Prepare
                   To Dodge a Draft
                   That Doesn't Exist
                   ---
                   They Plot Foreign Escapes,
                   Besiege Counselors, Even
                   Consider Bearing Children
                   By Joan E. Rigdon

                  02/08/1991
                   The Wall Street Journal
                   PAGE A1
                   (Copyright (c) 1991, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.)

                   Randall Cook has plotted his getaway. If he's drafted, the 21-year-old
                   Wesleyan University math major will hole up in his father's home in the
                   mountains, in a state he won't name. The secluded life won't be so hard,
                   he says, because the hideout has cable TV.

                   Across the country, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Sarah
                   Faragher, a biology major, for a while considered biological aid. Believing
                   that fathers are exempt from the draft, which is no longer the case, she
                   spread the word that she might be willing to bear a child for someone
                   who doesn't want to bear arms. She says her own father escaped serving
                   in Vietnam because she was born.

                   As the Persian Gulf war continues, the talk on campus is draft, draft,
                   draft. That might not make a lot of sense: No one has been drafted since
                   1972 and the government says a new draft is extremely unlikely. Yet draft
                   counseling centers are reopening, peace groups are fielding lots of
                   questions about things like flat feet, and students are suddenly considering
                   the advantages of divinity school.

                   One 22-year-old Pittsburgh college student phoned the Thomas Merton
                   Center peace organization to ask whether he should drop out of school
                   so he could live his life to the fullest before being tapped for combat. Gail
                   Britanik, who counseled him, says the worries are widespread. "For
                   everyone who calls, there are many more who don't," she says.

                   In many cases, the would-be dodgers aren't aflame with anti-war
                   sentiment. They cite more basic concerns, such as getting killed. "I'm not
                   willing to die for this cause," says Todd Shepard, a 21-year-old
                   comparative literature major at Wesleyan in Middletown, Conn. "My life
                   is more important than my country. I guess that may sound really selfish,
                   but that's what it comes down to." Some students who support the cause
                   feel the same way. Says Mr. Cook, the student who plans to flee to the
                   mountains: "We believe in the cause. We like cheap gas. But we're not
                   going to die for it."

                   Some students, of course, are sincere pacifists. And others feel it would
                   be unfair for them to leave the fighting to less privileged Americans. "It's
                   only fair that we go if we're drafted, because other kids are already
                   there," says 18-year-old Alexander Kayne, a political science major at
                   Yale. "If I didn't go, I would feel really guilty," says James Ghiloni, a
                   21-year-old Soviet history major at Wesleyan.

                   Still, after nearly two decades of virtual hibernation, draft counselors, who
                   advise people who think they might want to avoid the military, are being
                   pressed into active duty. Across the country, shuttered centers are
                   reopening and new ones are springing up. In Columbus, Ohio, a church
                   has opened a counseling center next to Ohio State University's
                   50,000-student campus. The Seattle Draft and Military Counseling
                   Center increased the number of its counselors to more than 100 from a
                   dozen, who have been spending the quiet years simply advising young
                   men about things like the consequences of not registering with the
                   Selective Service.

                   At Yale, fliers advertising counseling sessions are stuck in napkin holders
                   at the freshman dining hall. At the University of California at Berkeley, the
                   student union has allocated emergency funds to the campus draft
                   counseling center. Next week, 100 draft counselors are planning to hold
                   a mass session at Berkeley in an auditorium that seats 2,000.

                   In Florida, the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker
                   organization, mailed out 600 packets of draft counseling information in
                   January alone and gave talks to hundreds of students at the University of
                   South Florida in Tampa and New College in Sarasota. In Montana,
                   mailman Zane Zell is using his off-hours to counsel students at the
                   University of Montana at Missoula.

                   The National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors is
                   mailing out 500 draft counselor training manuals a week, up from maybe
                   two a week before the Gulf crisis. And phones at the offices of the
                   Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors have been jammed with
                   up to 1,000 calls a day, compared to perhaps two a day before the crisis.
                   "We are very, very busy," says Cord Bruegmans, a staff member at the
                   central committee's Philadelphia office. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in
                   August, the office's only field worker began a tour of colleges to teach
                   draft counseling -- and didn't return home until Thanksgiving, when his
                   wife had a baby. Now he's on the road again.

                   Questions about quirky ways to avoid combat exasperate draft
                   counselors. David Treber, associate director of the interreligious service
                   board, says he's tired of hearing from people who talk about maiming
                   themselves in order to flunk military physicals (historically, half of all
                   potential draftees flunk anyway). He would rather talk to possible "COs"
                   -- people whose proven, deep-rooted conscientious objection to war
                   makes them exempt from a draft. Even if there's no draft during this war,
                   people who can prove they are COs will be prepared for future drafts, he
                   says.

                   As for desperate schemes to dodge battle, many no longer work under
                   the current -- albeit dormant -- draft laws. Among the nixed escape
                   routes: being a father (Ms. Faragher canceled her tentative offer to have
                   children when she learned of this change); being a student (now only
                   seniors could defer until they finish college, while others, if drafted, would
                   have to report for service at the end of the semester); and flight to foreign
                   countries. Computers would now make draft-dodgers much easier to find
                   anywhere in the world, and even Canada has changed some laws that
                   would make it harder to flee there. Some students think they can dodge
                   just by declaring that they're homosexual, but the military is likely to
                   check that out quite closely, maybe even asking for a letter from a
                   psychiatrist. "There are a lot of cliche ideas that are floating around from
                   Vietnam," Mr. Treber sighs.

                   Aaron Kitch, an 18-year-old Yale freshman, says he might register as a
                   conscientious objector, but admits he has yet to begin assembling his CO
                   file. That must contain, among other things, a statement on his anti-war
                   beliefs and letters from people who can testify that his beliefs are genuine.
                   "It's very hard," he says of the process, but adds, "I guess I'd try it."

                   Thomas Ferguson, a 21-year-old Wesleyan student, says if he is drafted,
                   he'll sneak into other countries on ferries that don't demand passports.
                   Unfortunately, he admits, the plan has problems, since he probably
                   wouldn't be able to work in a foreign country and would have difficulty
                   re-entering the U.S.

                   His Plan B might work. Mr. Ferguson, a theology major, notes that he's
                   "Catholic now, but I could always become a Protestant minister." Then
                   he'd be eligible for an exemption granted to ministers and divinity
                   students.

                   Really flat feet might still work, too. Missing a big toe might also be
                   grounds to avoid duty. And everyone seems to have heard a tale about
                   someone's uncle who cut off a trigger finger to avoid Vietnam. At
                   Wesleyan, students have been circulating such rumors about a
                   psychology professor who is missing half of two fingers on his left hand.

                   Asked about the story, the professor, Bob Steele, says: "Pure myth.
                   Students have nothing better to do than make up stories about their
                   teachers." The fingers were lost in a childhood accident.
 

                    -30-
 
 

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