Sixteen members of the Harvard Liberal Union walked out last night rather than sign a pledge disavowing communism.
In the culminating move of internal faction that began last year with an executive board upheaval, the protesting group refused to sign a Students for Democratic Action membership card that calls communism 'incompatible. . . with freedom and economic security."
Affiliation of the local group with the National Students for Democratic Action organization was completed this week when some 75 percent of the HLU membership concurred with the disputed clause.
Political Error Seen
"We believe that the Liberal Union is progressive, not reactionary," Geoffrey White '48, spokesman for the resigning members said last night. "We believe that it is committing a serious political error in adopting the tactics of those it opposes."
Answering their statement, Frederic D. Houghteling '50, president of the HLU, called the SDA clause a means of more closely defining liberalism.
"The basic question that confronts us," he said, 'is whether or not a communist is a liberal. We feel that any organization has a right, on the basis of its avowed purposes, to determine who should be a member. We reject easy communists and undeviating supporters of the CP line. We merely ask others to agree that the HLU should be for liberals only."
While the protesting HLU man affirmed a desire to work, in continued cooperation with "their fellow progressives," they debated the point that a common ground cannot be found between communists and liberals.
"A rejection of cooperation between communists and non-communists in the same organization is a retreat in the face of current anti-red hysteria, and serves only to weaken the 'Liberal Union's struggle against reaction and to strengthen the hand of our enemies," they said.
Speaking for the group that walked out last night, White termed the final split "a most unfortunate outcome, one we've tried to avoid for more than a year."
"There has been no parting of the ways in a political sense," White said. "We still have a common enemy and a common objective."
The current HLU dispute began last year when an executive board dominated by members of the American Youth for Democracy, an alleged communist body was voted out of office.