Selective Service/College Deferment

 
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Introduction

When the Korean War broke out, the draft was initiated again in order to provide the number of replacement forces needed on the Korean peninsula. An excellent resource to study the draft-related topic of student deferment is M.H. Trytten’s book, Student Deferment in Selective Service: A Vital Factor in National Security. (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, copyright 1952)

Trytten was the Director of the Office of Scientific Personnel, National Research Council, and some of his research appears below. At the time he published his research findings about draft age college students, there were about 1,050,000 men reaching age 18 and a half each year.


Selective Service Statistics – 1952


Selective Service Pool of Classified Men on March 1, 1952:

Over age = 3,692,897
Veterans = 1,860,053
Dependency = 966,828
Disqualified = 1,376,078
Reserves, ROTC members of Armed Forces & Men Discharged Therefrom = 2,636,715
Available = 1,111,364

Other (includes all classifications listed below):

Ministers and divinity students = 59,994
Aliens = 9,244
Essential Agricultural Workers = 90,422
Deferred Students = 286,271
Conscientious Objectors = 7,777


Actual/Projected Armed Forces Strength (in thousands):

Actual (June 30, 1950) = 1,460
Actual (June 30, 1951) = 3,250
Actual (Nov. 30, 1951) = 3,460
Projected (June 30, 1952) = 3,590
Projected (June 30, 1953) = 3,700


Manpower Requirements from Civil Life (in thousands)

Actual (for replacements) – 1951 = 250
Actual (for expansion) – 1951 = 2,040
Total actual (replacements and expansion combined) – 1951 = 2,040
Projected (for replacements) – 1952 = 780
Projected (for expansion) – 1952 = 340
Total projected (for replacements and expansion) – 1952 = 1,120
Projected (for replacements) – 1953 = 1,080
Projected (for expansion) – 1953 = 110
Total projected (for replacements and expansion) – 1953 = 1,190
Total projected (replacements) to maintain active forces at 3.7 million - 1954 = 930
Total projected (replacements) to maintain active forces at 3.7 million – 1955 = 1,160


Status of Male Students on January 1, 1952

College deferments – Statutory = 11,857
College deferments – Regulation = 209,710
ROTC deferments = 263,000
Veteran students exempt by law = 377,503
Divinity students = 28,930
Total males in college = 1,258,735
Remainder potentially in pool = 367,735


Student Deferment Criteria

The Director of Selective Service, General Lewis B. Hershey, created six advisory committees on August 20, 1948 to help him review and understand the ramifications of drafting college-age males. According to Trytten, committee members made recommendations about the "feasibility of administration, of political acceptability in a democratic society, and of the extent to which the recommendations will meet the needs they are intended to meet in the light of other needs" (p. 10). Trytten said that when draft calls ceased after January 1949, the recommendations made by the committees received no further official action until the outbreak of hostilities in Korea.

Committee recommendations called for selective deferment of college students based on two criteria: (1) aptitude test scores (2) class standing among male members of their college class. Trytten explained, "To qualify for deferment according to this criterion, the student must rank in the upper half of his class if a freshman, the upper two thirds if a sophomore, the upper three fourths if a junior, and the upper half of his senior class to qualify for deferment as a graduate student." On March 31, 1951, a student deferment policy went into effect when the President signed legislation authorizing it on March 31, 1951.

The nation-wide "Selective Service College Qualification Test" was developed by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. It was administered in the spring of 1951 to college students, with the test score being sent directly to the individual student’s local draft board. Each student’s class standing was also sent there. According to Trytten, "Those who qualified as eligible for deferment by these criteria during the summer of 1951 and who were so classified by their local draft boards, entered upon their studies in the fall under a special Selective Service Classification (II-S) as students. There were something over 200,000 young men in college during the academic year 1951-1952 under this special classification."

For those Korean War Educator readers who are interested in learning how the United States government justified deferring some males from military conscription, while at the same time drafting others, Trytten’s book can provide insight in the chapter called, "Summing Up." In it, Trytten gives six detailed reasons why college deferment was acceptable during the Korean War.

Summary of Selective Service College Qualification Test
May 1951-May 1952
 

Test
Date

Number
of Centers

Registrants
Tested

Percentage Obtaining
Score of 70 or Above

First Series

May 26, 1951 1,006 165,027 65%
June 16, 1951 1,036 106,832 62%
June 30, 1951 1,037 64,003 61%
July 12, 1951 273 3,205 58%

TOTAL

  339,066 64%

Second Series

December 13, 1951 1,000 19,574 61%
April 24, 1952 1,001 48,809 57%
May 22, 1952 521 5,943 57%
TOTAL   74,326 58%
GRAND TOTAL   413,392 63%
 

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