Patriotism in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist attacks still runs high at Quinnipiac University, but a debate over whether women should face the draft as men do has opened a discussion on campus. That discussion has increased in tone as President George W. Bush moves America closer to war with Iraq.
“I would go and fight for our country, especially now,” said a male freshman liberal arts major who did not want to be identified.
According to a story in USA Today, few additional recruits have joined the military despite waves of patriotism rolling over the country and many inquiries into joining the service following Sept. 11.
If the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, conscription may be a final option to fill duty rosters.
The U.S. last implemented the draft during the Vietnam War era. Even though women now serve in the all-volunteer military, they will not be drafted if conscription arrives under the current law, according to the Selective Service Administration.
“Women do not receive this card, therefore the government doesn’t have any means of calling them for a draft,” said Matthew Pillion, a senior political science major, who remembered receiving his Selective Service card at age 18.
According to the government’s Selective Service web site, current law states that registering only men for the draft is constitutional.
In 1981, the Supreme Court heard Rostker v. Goldberg and ruled that excluding women from the draft was not a violation of the constitution.
Under current policy, no women are allowed in line combat positions, and that is the argument that the Department of Defense uses to justify excluding women from the draft.
If Congress were to amend the Selective Service law, women would be drafted along with men.
“Our culture will have a hard time assigning women to combat arms in times of real combat,” said Russell Barclay, associate professor of Mass Communications. “Still, a draft for everybody is the only fair way to go, it seems.”
Katherine Drury, a senior legal studies major, agreed.
“I’d go because I want equal rights. You have to take the good with the bad,” said Drury.
Two other women, Lori Wilson, a senior health science major, and Sawyer Hutto-Blake, a senior English major, said they felt unprepared, both emotionally and physically, to withstand rigorous combat.
“If women are drafted in equal percentages to men, the women will go into the ‘soft’ staff slots, with the valuable training, while the men will have to be assigned to combat rates or MOS’s [mode of service],” said Barclay.
Most male students on campus were perpetually against a draft that included women.
“You can’t draft a woman to war and expect her to go kill someone,” said Daniel Bernard, a mass communications major.
Bill Villany, a senior finance major, agreed and said that women, with his sister in mind, should not be included in the draft.
In contrast, a slim minority of the male population on campus thought women should be drafted. Michael Tynan, a senior mass communications major, said that he disagreed with the policy , which he described as unfair.
The Selective Service does not shut out the possibility of GI Jane recruits despite current policies excluding women from conscription. The Selective Service web site specifically addresses the issue, acknowledging that with funding and the given mission, registering and drafting women is a possibility for the future.
Professor Barclay now dispenses this advice to both men and women.
“If there is a draft, bundle up.”