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In accordance with President Conant's request, Kirtley F. Mather, Professor of Geology, has signed the Teacher's Oath in the proper form. At the same time he requested that his "long oath" with all its qualifications be returned to the Commissioner of Education, "thus keeping my conscience clear."
Professor Mather and the men who had refused to sign the oath, or had done so with various reservations, have done their best to find some method of testing this law as an infringement upon academic freedom, without involving the University in the dispute over the legal technicalities, but have been unable to do so.
No Right to Force Litigation
"As a member of the faculty", said Professor Mather, "I have no right to force the University into ligitation, despite the many technical flaws, and the absence of any penalty provision, unless the administrative officers desire it, and this, I am informed, they do not."
Thus there were but two alternatives from which Professor Mather had to chose: to accede to President Conant's request, or to hand in his resignation. "I chose the former" he stated, "not through any fear of economic loss if I were to give up my salary as a Harvard professor, but for the following reasons:
"In the first place I will be in a stronger position to work for the repeal of this un-American legislation if I have signed the oath, than I would be if I were an "outlaw". In the second place, if I were to resign, it would put Harvard in an extremely unpleasant position.
"If a resignation were accepted under these conditions, Harvard's reputation and prestige would be seriously injured. If it were not accepted, it would embroil the University in the legal and political battle which the administration wishes to avoid.
"Finally," concluded Professor Mather, "I wish to express my sympathy for Commissioner Smith. It must be as unpleasant for him to crack the whip as it is for us teachers to dance".
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