Senate Vote Approves Repeal Of NDEA Disclaimer Provision
In a surprise move, the Senate voted yesterday to repeal the disclaimer affadavit--but not the loyalty oath--required under the National Defense Education Act. Harvard has long objected to the affadavit, and in protest withdrew from the NDEA program in November, 1959.
Section 1001 (f) of the NDEA Act provides that to be eligible for grants, or for loans administered through their university, applicants must first disclaim membership in, belief in, or support of subversive organizations; and second, affirm their allegiance to the United States and its Constitutional system.
For several reasons, most of them political, university lobbies have in the past two years concentrated on lifting the disclaimer affadavit from the Act, declaring in loyalty oath at least "positive" and relatively innocuous.
Handled on the floor by Sen. Wayne Morse (D-Ore.), the repealer was attached to a House bill at a time when the Senate was rushing through a series of minor bills, the Associated Press reported. House concurrence will be necessary if the repeal is to become effective.
The Senate action would substitute for the affadavit a criminal provision fixing a $10,000 maximum fine and up to five years imprisonment for any person who was a member of a subversive organization and received such a loan.
The House bill to which repealer was attached makes the same change in the law affecting National Science Foundation fellowships.
Led by President Pusey's continued opposition to the loyalty provisions, the University has refused NDEA loans since November 18, 1959. At that time the Corporation voted to reject $357,873 of Federal funds assigned to Harvard. Following suit, Yale, Princeton, Haverford, Swarthmore, Amherst, Roed, and other colleges withdraw from the program.
The loyalty oath and disclaimer were debated as a question of academic freedom during 1959, and the requirement imposed on the university was felt to be objectionable in itself and as a precedent that would influence the direction which future education aid bills might take.
November 4, 1959, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to recommend refusal of NDEA funds. After more than four hours of debate at two meetings, the Faculty made its decision on a voice vote. The next day the Graduate School of Education, which needed the funds the most, "very strongly supported" withdrawal from NDEA.
Inevitably, on November 17, the Corporation voted to reject the funds, in a joint announcement with Yale. President Pusey wrote the Commissioner of Education that the disclaimer "is discriminatory since it singles out students alone in our population--and among students, the neediest--as subjects for special distrust."
The disclaimer is ineffective, he said, and "counter to the philosophical principles on which our national strength has been built. It also seems to imply interference on the part of the government in an area of administration which belongs properly without restriction to free institutions of higher learning."
Thereafter, Pusey urged the then Senator John F. Kennedy '40 to oppose the loyalty oath provisions, but Kennedy failed in two attempts to get the affadavit repealed. Pusey reopened Faculty debate on NDEA; the Faculty voted virtually unanimously to recommend continued refusal of NDEA funds. Pusey said after the October 3, 1961 meeting that there was "no identifiable support for changing the University's policy."