Draft possibility worries some male students

Chauncey Moore doesn’t want to see any of his friends drafted into military service.

“It would affect me a lot to see one of my friends have to go,” Moore, 20, an Army ROTC student from Satellite Beach said.

Since America’s war on terrorism started, the thought of a military draft has been on the minds of a lot of Americans, including students who are eligible to be drafted. Not only have they been thinking about the draft, they’ve been talking about it with their friends.

Moore said some of his friends have come to him with questions because of his military background. Their main question has been whether or not they would be exempt because they are college students.

Some students don’t believe that a draft will be needed, while others, like Brian Davis, 19, a criminal justice student from New York, aren’t concerned because of their status as college students. Davis doesn’t believe that the war will progress so far that college students will be drafted.

One student said he would go if called up by the Selective Service System, the federal agency responsible for overseeing the implementation of the draft during a national crisis. He doesn’t necessarily view it as fighting for his country, instead, he would just be doing what the government called on him to do.

“I ain’t going to be a coward,” said Ashby Johnson, 21, a computer information systems student from Savannah, Ga. “I’m going to go … If I have to go to war.” Johnson said his status as a college student would prevent him from being drafted.

Carlton Cosby, 22, a political science student from Orlando, shares Johnson’s belief. “One of my thoughts is that I really won’t have to go unless they change some laws,” Cosby said.

“I’m the youngest in my family, the only son, my dad’s passed.”

But in truth, college students like Cosby, Johnson and Davis are eligible to be drafted. Selective Service conducts a draft through a lottery system. The system is based entirely on age, which ranges from 18-25.

Alice Burton, a spokesperson for Selective Service, said 20-year-olds would be the first to be called up for duty because they are the least likely to have dependents such as a spouse or children. Young men who are 19, but whose 20th birthday is in the same year as a draft, would be among the first to be drafted. As a man advances in age, Burton said, his draft value goes down. Once a man has been called up, he is ordered to report to a Military Entrance Service Station where he will be given physical, mental and moral exams to test his fitness for military service. If the military declares him fit for service, he is given 10 days to report to an entrance service station for induction into the military. Within those 10 days he may go to his local draft board with an appeal stating why he should be exempt from military service.

That appeal may be based on his status as a college student. Burton said college students can request a deferral from service until after graduation.

“Hopefully it doesn’t get that out of hand, where we have to have people called up out of school,” Moore said.

Lt. Col. Brian Haynes, director of FAMU’s ROTC and Retired Army Col. Ronald Joe, director of student affairs, doesn’t think a draft will be needed because of the nature of the war, which will involve special military forces instead of a total land invasion. Joe served in the Army for 30 years and he also served in Vietnam in the 1960’s.

He said the concept of a draft, even during peace time, is good because it helps to bridge the racial, social and economic divides in the United States. He would like to see all young men serve in the military for a short period of time.

“I do wish the draft was in effect,” Joe said. “I think the draft is an excellent social and economic phenomenon. What the draft tends to do is take the salami slice across the wealth and breadth of our nation.”

According to Joe, young men from various backgrounds would be forced to work together and get to know each other. He said that was the case in Vietnam, which was the last time a military draft was held.

Joe said young people, if called upon to serve their country, should go because democracy isn’t free.

Daniel Wingate, 20, a computer information systems student from Palm Beach, is one of those young people who would be ready to go.

“I would be willing to fight for my country,” Wingate said. As a member of the national guard, Wingate wouldn’t be drafted but could still be called up for active duty.