This is the third and last article in a series surveying the condition of academic freedom in American universities. In the two preceding articles we reported on pressures exerted on faculty members because of their political beliefs; on attempts of state legislatures to supervise education; and on cases where college administrations have denied outside speakers the opportunity to address campus meetings.
Today's article will deal with Instances where students or student groups have charged they have been subjected to pressure because of their political opinions or activities. Two other cases which do not fall into these categories appear on page five.
For the past three months, the position of the president of Queens College, New York, has been the subject of bitter debate. On one side have been New York Mayor William O'Dwyer and Democratic political leaders in the Queens.
On the other side have ranged such varied groups as the Queens College Young Progressives, the Public Education Association, the Teacher's Union, and the United Parents Association.
Each side had its candidate. Margaret Kiely, a dean at Queens, was backed by O'Dwyer's group. Bryn Hovde, president of the New School for Social Research, was supported by the second group. Neither candidate was finally picked; John J. Theobald, a City College dean, was named president instead by the Board of Higher Education on May 16.
In the presidential controversy, Queens Democrats were attempting to gain some measure of control over the borough college, which they felt had to be responsible to the "desires of the taxpayers."
Their efforts have not been concerned with the college presidency alone. Led by Queens Democratic boss James A. Roe, they have aimed for the past two years at the expulsion of what they consider "radical elements" in the student body and the faculty.
In their "anti-radicalism" campaign, Queens Democrats received aid from Long Island newspapers, local Republicans, New York City councilmen, three veterans' groups, and J. Parnell Thomas, then chairman of the House un-American Activities Committee.
During most of 1947, these forces fought the Queens chapter of the American Youth for Democracy. When it appeared that a sizeable portion of the college faculty and student body was not also against the A.Y.D., the Roe faction demanded the investigation of the entire college and the resignation of top officials.
On February 14, 1947, the college student council voted to revoke the A.Y.D.'s charter. This was in agreement with the principles of college president Paul Klapper, who had long said he wanted all partisan political groups banned, including the A.Y.D.
Final decision, however, was left up to the faculty, which was called to a meeting by President Klapper two days later. One of the A.Y.D.'s most virulent critics, City Councilman Hugh Quinn, attempted to gain entrance to this session.
When Klapper informed Quinn that faculty meetings were closed to outsiders, the Councilman said, "If I am barred, it is only for one reason--they are hiding something." The president then asked the faculty if Quinn could be allowed in; the vote was unanimously in the negative.
"So, it's a star-chamber session!" Quinn exclaimed, adding, "that's not the American way. Dr. Klapper. You must remember Queens College is a public institution, supported by taxpayers' money, and what the faculty does is everybody's business."