This is the CRIMSON'S eight annual Academic Freedom Supplement. As in the past, we do not claim to present a complete survey of infringements against academic freedom, but we do hope to present, through case studies of some important affairs, the trends and developments of the past year on these two pages.
We wish to thank the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times for the use of their extensive files.
Attacks on traditional standards of academic freedom have mounted in recent years as legislatures, Congress, and various administrative boards tried to outdo one another in asserting their Americanism and their anti-Communism, which all too often have been taken as synonymous. From time to time a college stood up and told off the government, the public, or its alumni, but frequently professors have been fired or denied reappointment, books have been taken off shelves, and academic life disrupted by an investigation, a loyalty oath controversy or a student demonstration on one of the above issues.
How much the nation's security benefitted from these efforts has never been documented, but much has been written to show the affects on colleges and universities. Some groups have criticized the tendency sharply, but the long-time spokesman for academic freedom in America--the American Association of University Professors--has been relatively silent. While statements of policy remained theoretically in effect, the organization had censured no colleges since Evansville Teachers in 1950.
Last fall, however, the AAUP appointed a special committee to investigate "Academic Freedom and Tenure in the Quest for National Security," thus taking most of the alleged infringements out of the hands of its standing committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
On March 22 the Committee issued its report, a 58-page document spelling out a doctrine of academic freedom and the responsibility of the university to its faculty. It also examined alleged breaches of these standards at 18 schools and recommended censure of five of them.
Both aspects of the report came under heavy attack, with fire directed from all over the nation on the general approach--which includes the position that exclusive of other considerations neither Communist party membership nor use of the Fifth Amendment is sufficient to disqualify a man from teaching. Attacks on the proposed censures came largely from within the Association or from the schools themselves.
Nevertheless, the AAUP convention in April adopted both the policy statement and the censure urged upon it, the latter by overwhelming votes.
Limits and Procedures
The policy statement was notable not only for its relative uniqueness in suggesting that Communists or users of the Fifth Amendment might retain a right to teach. It was significant also as a firm statement by a respected group from the academic profession, a statement outlining limits and procedures reasonable in the current era of international tension, and showing also the opposition of the academic community to infringement of these standards.
The crux of the Association's position is contained in this statement of excusable grounds for removing a faculty member who holds tenure:
"Removal can be justified only on the ground, established by evidence, of unfitness to teach because of incompetence, lack of scholarly objectivity or integrity, serious misuse of the classroom or of academic prestige, gross personal misconduct or conscious participation in conspiracy against the government."
To determine the accuracy of any of these charges the AAUP demands a hearing by fellow faculty members, preferably standing committees of the given institution.
The Association held that neither use of the Fifth Amendment nor admitted or proven Communist Party membership were sufficient proof of unfitness to teach, although it said that each would suggest unfitness and furnish an institution with cause to investigate further.
These standards of acadamic freedom were demanded for dismissal of non-tenure faculty members. The Association maintained that procedures which violate academic freedom should not be allowed to bar reappointment or promotion for non-permanent faculty members.