While most Maryland high school students lounged beside the pool or worked at their summer jobs, eight of their colleagues recently debated issues such as ERA, capital punishment and whether women should be drafted.
The Marylanders were participating in the YMCA's 13th annual National Affairs Conference at Black Mountain, N.C.
Each of the 174 participants from 23 states submitted proposals on national and international topics.
Heading the Maryland delegation was Garrick Grobler of Easton. Grobler's proposal, advocating agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union limiting use of outer space to peaceful purposes, was the only Maryland proposal passed by the student General Assembly.
Delegate Jim Dudley of Beltsville combined his proposal to limit the presidency to one 6-year term with a similar measure introduced by a Florida delegate. Their bill was narrowly defeated by the assembly.
All proposals went through three committees before they were ranked. Only about 20 reached the General Assembly. There students listened to and questioned the authors before debating and voting on the measures.
One of the most hotly contested issues was a proposal favored the Equal Rights Amendment that passed, 80 to 62. Darrin Clem of Easton said he was glad the bill was approved because "it's about time women are equal, at least in the eyes of the law."
By a larger margin -- 88 to 43 -- the assembly approved drafting women. John Mayeske, a graduate of Bowie High School favored a female draft. "I supported the ERA, and I think this is just due course for equality for women."
An Easton delegate, Ginny Gooch, disagreed with Mayeske, saying "There has to be someone at home during a war to raise the children and be a figurehead. Women can enlist if they want to."
The assembly rejected capital punishment after much debate.
"My feelings on the issue changed after I had a chance to listen to other people's views," said Dudley. "I am now in favor of capital punishment because I don't think we should have to eliminate one of our options."
This was the first year at the National Affairs Conference for Marshall Nielsen of the Talbot County YMCA, adviser to the Maryland contingent. She said she felt "the interpersonal part was even more important than the work that was accomplished. The experience of getting involved with people from around the country was what made the conference a success."
It was the first year as director for Bill Barringer of Alabama. He has been involved in the program since 1968 as both student and adviser.
"I don't think the benefits of the conference have been realized yet," he said. "It's still a young program. Maybe in 5 or 10 years young people who have been involved in this will become politically visible. It's feasible that a United States president could come out of a group of kids as good as these."
This year as in the past, proposals that have been approved by the General Assembly are sent to members of Congress for review. In addition, the 1980 proposals will be presented by Nicholas Goncharoff to U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim. Goncharoff, who spoke to the students at the conference, is representative to the United Nations for the World Alliance of YMCAs.
Also attending the conference were Sheryl Henriques of Bowie, Sean Kershaw; of Woodbine, and Jeffrey Samuels, of Towson.