Military draft excludes some, threatens others

Claire Gelhaus, Editor

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Almost all male United States citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with the Selective Service. This is according to the Selective Service System, which has made a couple changes to the draft since the Vietnam War. The reforms made the draft more equitable, so that privileges couldn’t be given to exempt certain men.

  Before congressional reform in 1971, “…a man could qualify for a student deferment if he could show he was a full-time student making satisfactory progress in virtually any field of study,” according to The Selective Service System.

  This meant men could continue to go to school, and be deferred from service until they were too old to be drafted.

 Now, however, a college student can postpone deferment only until the end of the current semester, and a senior can be postponed until the end of the full academic year. Despite changes, the selective service still uses threats to get men to sign up, such as disqualification from federal student loans or grant programs.

  For Seniors in low-income households or situations where student loans or Pell grants are needed, this is a more urgent and pressing taunt. However, for those who can afford to pay for their college education, although other penalties exist, the Selective Service isn’t as necessary.

  Furthermore, the draft only requires men to register. Under the 1981 Supreme Court ruling Rostker v. Goldberg the practice of requiring only men to register for the draft was upheld as constitutional. The court concluded that women shouldn’t have the same requirements as men, when they cannot be in combat.

  However, with women cleared for combat roles in 2013, the ban on the selective service for women won’t be held up for long, argues Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University in an opinion article written for CNN.

  “In all areas of society, women have embraced the principle that equal rights brings with it equal duties,” says Ben-Ghiat. “In the workplace and beyond, we share responsibilities with men. Selective Service registration should be no different.”

  In June of 2016, the Senate approved a bill that would require women to sign up for the draft; however, since then the bill has been restructured, and the draft being opened to women was cancelled.

  The ban discredits the women fighting in the military every day, and now has no reason to continue. If women were part of the Selective Service, it would truly become a more equitable institution, showing America as a diverse nation.

  Furthermore, the draft excludes the trans experience and relies on whatever gender Americans were born as, excluding trans women and others who were assigned male at birth. Without an inclusive military, the United States limits the strength a draft could produce.

 Active military service is at an all-time low, of only 0.4% of the American population. The Selective Service would allow the United States to raise a large fighting force in case of urgent and catastrophic need.

  The first experience most civilians have with the military is through the draft, but what message are we sending if only men are required? By creating a completely gender inclusive draft, the Selective Service wouldn’t need to threaten certain benefits to men, and women in the military would be valued the same as their male counterparts.