The United States National Student Association (NSA) was a confederation of college and university student governments that was in operation from 1947 to 1978.
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.
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).
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. The NSA formally cut its ties with the CIA and began, for example, paying the mortgage on its offices in Washington, DC.
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. 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 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.
^Vries, Tity de (2012). "The 1967 Central Intelligence Agency Scandal: Catalyst in a Transforming Relationship between State and People". Journal of American History98 (4): 1075–1092. doi:10.1093/jahist/jar563.
^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."