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The entrance of forty members of the Faculty into the new Cambridge Union of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, raises two questions. One, are the aims of the organization justified? Two, is this the best way to achieve those aims?
The purposes outlined at the meeting Wednesday are reasonable with one exception. The Union is trying "to reduce the segregation of teachers from the rest of the workers who constitute the mass of the community", to preserve and extend academic freedom, and to fight against retrenchment in education. That these problems should receive the attention of an intelligent group of men is eminently desirable. One will also concede that social, political or economic opinions should not influence faculty appointments and promotions. One is only tempted to question the contention that any teacher may engage in any social, political, or economic activity that he may desire, but this thorny problem will be discussed in a later editorial.
The second question is not so easy to answer. It is politic to stir up organizations such as the D. A. R. and Mr. Hearst when it is not absolutely essential? It is only a gamble that the A. F. of L. connection will serve to prevent their effective attacks. What will the Union do when Mr. Conant refuses to act on one of their suggestions? If they strike in the same manner as the A. F. of L., they will violate their assurance of Wednesday. If they do nothing, the organization will lose prestige. What will they do if labor decides to restrict, rather than further, the cause of academic freedom?
No one will dispute the right of Dr. Walsh and his colleagues to join the Union. Logically, their case is air-tight. Practically, however, one cannot but feel that they are sacrificing themselves not on the altar of liberalism but on the altar of Mr. Flearst, the D. A. R., and similar organizations. Only time will tell whether it is useless martydom.
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