Cornell University has relieved zoology tutor Marcus Singer, former Harvard instructor, of his teaching duties awaiting final disposition of his indictment on a charge of contempt of Congress. He will continue to receive his salary.
The federal grand jury indicted Singer in Washington, Monday, for his refusal to tell the House Un-American Activities Committee about his associates in a war-time Communist study group here. He has admitted his own participation in the group but invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to questions as to whether Wendell H. Furry, associate professor of Physics, and Mrs. Helen Deane, former assistant professor at the Medical School, among others, were also members.
January Trial Expected
Singer will be arraigned in Washington D.C. on the contempt charge. Trial is scheduled to begin late in January or early February. Furry himself has been charged for contempt by the Senate for his testimony before the McCarthy Senate committee, but a grand jury indictment has not yet been returned.
In a brief statement issued after he was told of Cornell's action, Singer said that "I followed the dictates of my conscience and did what I felt should be done in honor and principle. I am hopeful that the courts will sustain me."
Cornell Daily Sun, in its main editorial yesterday, attacked the University's section. "The nature of this case does not dictate a leave nor a relief from teaching duties . . .", the Sun said. "The desire to satisfy certain pressure groups often influences the University's decisions; we hope that this was not the factor in the matter. To allay doubts, the University should reveal its motives.
"We feel that, if found guilty, Dr. Singer should serve whatever sentence the court imposes and then be allowed to return as a full member of the University faculty," the editorial continued. Insisting that Singer's loyalty is not under question, the Sun concluded ". . . this offers the University no basis to relieve Dr. Singer or dismiss him at this or any future date."
The Singer and Furry cases are somewhat parallel, since both men admitted former Communist Party membership, but refused to name their associates. Singer relied on the Fifth Amendment for his defense, however, while Furry dropped the protection of the Amendment altogether in his testimony before the McCarthy committee. The maximum penalty for contempt of Congress is one year in prison, or a $1000 fine, or both