MS 676 - U. S. Student Association
|Title||MS 676 - U. S. Student Association|
The United States Student Association (USSA) Collection was donated to the Center for Archival Collections in 1993, with a second addition acquired in 2005, to be part of the National Student Affairs Archives. The Collection is comprised of the papers of Dr. Dennis Trueblood who was on the National Advisory Board/Council during the formative years of the USSA. The Collection consists of meeting (Congress) files, chronological and subject files, and publications. The papers date from 1946 to 1966. These papers were donated with the assistance of Dr. Jack Graham, Professor Emeritus of Educational Administration and Higher Education at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Dr. Trueblood headed the College Student Personnel Program at Southern Illinois and also served as president of the American College Personnel Association. No restrictions exist on the research use of this collection and duplication is permitted for administrative and scholarly purposes. The collection was arranged and finding aid prepared by Ann Bowers, National Student Affairs Archivist, in October 2005.
The following history of the USSA is excerpted from A Brief History of NSA and USSA, written by Angus Johnston, USSA National Corporate Secretary, 1990-1992, and available on the USSA web site: http://www.usstudents.org.
In 1946 students from the United States and 37 other countries met in Prague to launch the International Union of Students. Upon their return, the American students called for a new national student organization. Hundreds of students attended a planning meeting in Chicago that December and a Constitution Convention was held the following year, officially establishing the United States National Student Association (NSA). In its first years of operation, it drafted a Student Bill of Rights and worked to strengthen student government and expand access to higher education.
From the beginning NSA members debated whether it should be a non-partisan organization or whether it had the responsibility to enter the political arena. Its original non-partisan stance was for all practical purposes eliminated when the NSA went on record in opposition to educational segregation. In 1951, NSA condemned "McCarthyism" but not McCarthy, and in 1953, it condemned South African apartheid but only in higher education. This "middling" road resulted in criticism from the conservatives which accused NSA of being a communist front and from the Communist Party for being too right-wing.
The 1950s also brought serious financial difficulties. These difficulties were eliminated when the CIA approached the leaders with a secret offer of large-scale funding which was accepted. For the next fifteen years, a small group of officers and staff worked closely with the CIA while others in NSA leadership positions were kept in the dark.
NSA officers and staff used their position to gather information on student leaders abroad for the agency and some alumni worked to ensure that NSA took "correct" positions on controversial questions. Most of the students were motivated by a sincere belief in the rightness of the government's cause. Self-interest also was a motivation as several received draft deferments and other help from the government.
By the late 1950s and 1960s, the NSA became involved in civil rights, opening up a civil rights office in Atlanta and developing ties with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. NSA also joined with the Students for a Democratic Society in antiwar protests. In 1967, a former staffer, Michael Wood, told a reporter from Ramparts magazine about the CIA connections. The Ramparts article exposed the CIA links with several organizations and brought the NSA almost to the point of dissolving. Instead it re-emerged as a radical group endorsing the Black power movement struggle and initiating a task force working to deny Lyndon Johnson re-nomination for President in 1968, instead replacing him with a candidate committed to ending the war in Vietman.
By 1974, NSA, criticized by other student organizations for not also advocating for higher education issues, created a separate foundation to carry out non-political work. This allowed the NSA and the National Student Lobby to merge in 1978 under the new name, United States Student Association. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the USSA located new funding sources, provided organized assistance to state student associations and in 1985, co-sponsored the first Grass Roots Organizing Weekend for campus leaders. The USSA advocated multicultural leadership when in 1989 the Congress mandated that people of color fill half the seats on the Board of Directors. In succeeding years, similar amendments ensured the representation for women, lesbians, gays and bisexuals on the Board.
USSA is the oldest and largest student group in the country and is reflective of what has occurred since WWII with the American student movement. Its current vision statement includes the following statements:
The United States Student Association collection is divided into three record groups: Congresses; Chronological/Subject Files; and, Publications. These record groups and divided into record series which are described below.