Loans for Loyalty

The University has wisely steered a middle path in the current controversy over the loyalty oath provision attached to the Student Loan Program under the National Defense Education Act. Rejecting the extreme stand of Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore--which refused to apply for funds restricted by the oath--the University has followed the course of accepting the money while pressing for the oath's abolition.

Coupled with the distaste felt by many towards Federal money in the field of education due to the danger of possible regulation, the piddling sum involved, only $25,000 this year, has led many observers to question the wisdom of the University entangling itself in the Federal program. Under the present act, they point out, the most money the University, including all the Graduate schools, can receive is $250,000, a relatively insignificant sum in a loan program where $400,000 in long term notes was issued by the College alone.

Although Senator Jenner felt the dangers of Federal encroachment in education to be so great that the original version of the bill passed by the Senate included an amendment excluding the State of Indiana (later struck out by the House) it would be patently silly for this University to adopt such an attitude. The administration of the funds is specifically left to each recipient institution and an amendment to alter this arrangement was defeated on the floor of Congress. It has, moreover, accepted money under National Defense contracts in the past. Acceptance now in no way compels acceptance in the future.

There is little dispute over the need for widescale use of loans to students, nor of the excellent quality of the National Defense Student Loan Program. It provides low interest loans up to $1,000 a year repayable over ten years following completion of a student's studies. Particularly noteworthy is the arrangement whereby public school teachers need only repay half the loan. Officials estimate 90,000 students will participate in the seven year program.

The college has complete choice of recipients and control over allotment of loans except that "special consideration" is to be given prospective teachers and students in the sciences or modern languages. The only other restriction upon the college's discretion is the provision that the borrower sign an affidavit that he does not believe in, belong to, or support any subversive organization.

This provision, the result of a floor amendment by Senator Mundt passed in the adjournment rush of last August, has occasioned critical letters by Presidents Pusey, Griswold and Goheen along with protests from Bates, Colby and Bowdoin. Support for repeal of the oath has come from the American Association of University Professors and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Arthur S. Flemming. Unfortunately the chairman of the appropriate House committee, Graham Barden, has announced his firm opposition to repeal of the loyalty oath.

Obnoxious as the oath is, with its concealed threat to academic freedom and its latent McCarthyism, the Pennsylvania schools' complete rejection of the beneficial aspects of the program results merely in cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. A more reasonable course for the University is to accept the Federal funds and to provide its own loan funds for students who object to the oath. There is no reason why the University can not pray for repeal with one hand while accepting the cold cash with the other.

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