National Student Association Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Student_Association

The United States National Student Association (NSA) was a confederation of college and university student governments that was in operation from 1947 to 1978.[1]

Founding and early years[edit]

The NSA was founded at a conference at the University of Wisconsin in 1947, and established its first headquarters not far from the campus in Madison. The NSA was led by officers elected at its annual National Student Congress. It later opened an office at 2115 'S' St. in Washington, D.C. William Birenbaum, later Provost at the New School and President of Antioch College, was an early leader of the NSA.

Funding by the Central Intelligence Agency[edit]

From the early 1950s until 1967, the international program of the NSA, and some of its domestic activities, were underwritten by clandestine funding from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as revealed by Ramparts magazine.[2][3][4]

Beginning in the late 1950s, the NSA conducted an annual Southern Student Human Relations Seminar (SSHRS), educating Southern student leaders on issues relating to race and civil rights. In late 1959 the SSHRS leadership opened a year-round office in Atlanta.

The revelation of the NSA's ties to the CIA sparked a national scandal but did not measurably damage the NSA's standing with student governments.[5] The NSA formally cut its ties with the CIA and began, for example, paying the mortgage on its offices in Washington, DC.[6] The organization remained in a brownstone on S Street, NW for many years until its mergers with the National Student Lobby and National Student Educational Fund.


In 1969, the NSA held its annual meeting in El Paso, Texas, where thousands of student delegates overwhelmed the city, particularly the Hotel Cortez, with music, drugs, and free love. Bill M. Shamblin, former editor of the University of Alabama's newspaper, the CW, was one of the meeting's lead speakers. The NSA's Executive Vice President, James Hercules Sutton, presented testimony that year against an all-volunteer Army to a Congressional panel that included General James Gavin and General Omar Bradley, expressing the view that such an Army would be racially imbalanced in enlisted ranks. Jim Graham, Washington D.C. City Councilman, was an NSA Vice President during this time.

In 1971, Margery Tabankin was elected the first woman president of the NSA.[7][8]

NSA held annual national conferences attended by student leaders, especially student body presidents from their respective student government. It was also American host for student Euro rail and air passes, and for many years served as American students' representative to IATA, the International Air Transport Association.

For its 1973 annual convention, NSA produced a series of booklets given to all attendees, including The Student Press, Women on Campus, and Men on Campus.

In 1978 the NSA merged with the National Student Lobby (NSL), to form the United States Student Association (USSA).

The NSA originally housed the United States Student Press Association (USSPA), and its news agency, College Press Service (CPS). Both groups spun away as independent groups but eventually shut down as student-run organizations. College Press Service survives as a successful commercial publication.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "United States National Student Association Collection | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog". berea.libraryhost.com. Berea College. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  2. ^ Warner, Michael (June 2008). ""The Mighty Wurlitzer": How the CIA Played America' [book review] – Intelligence in Recent Public Literature". Studies in Intelligence. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency. 52 (2): 71–73. ISSN 1527-0874. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 'Who co-opted whom?' was a little joke whispered by former officers of the National Student Association once they joined CIA to run Covert Action Staff's Branch 5 – and thus took over the youth and student field in the Agency's larger campaign.
  3. ^ De Vries, T. (2012). The 1967 Central Intelligence Agency Scandal: Catalyst in a Transforming Relationship between State and People. Journal of American History, 98(4), 1075–1092. doi:10.1093/jahist/jar563
  4. ^ Onis, Juan de (1967-02-16). "Ramparts Says C.I.A. Received Student Report; Magazine Declares Agency Turned Group It Financed Into an 'Arm of Policy'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-21.
  5. ^ Vries, Tity de (2012). "The 1967 Central Intelligence Agency Scandal: Catalyst in a Transforming Relationship between State and People". Journal of American History. 98 (4): 1075–1092. doi:10.1093/jahist/jar563.
  6. ^ Wilford, Mighty Wurlitzer (2008), p. 4. "The last tie between the NSA and the CIA was severed in August 1967, when the student group took over the title and mortgage payments on the Washington brownstone that had served as its headquarters since 1965."
  7. ^ Edwards, Julia (July 18, 2012). "The Hollywood Connection". National Journal. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  8. ^ Finke, Nikki (August 13, 1989). "A Radical Move: Margery Tabankin Has Fled the Center of Power for the Center of Status, but Without Missing an Activist Beat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 May 2015.

References and further reading[edit]