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The American Council on Education is a highly respected non-profit agency representing about 1,600 institutions and organizations of higher education, including Harvard. A week ago the Council called on colleges and universities to resist the demands of investigatory bodies, including Congressional committees, for the membership lists of student organizations. Rather than advising colleges to challenge such agencies as the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Council recommends that universities no longer even keep membership lists of student organizations. "If rosters of this kind do not exist," the Council reasoned, "they cannot be subpoenaed."
With the Council's large influence behind this proposal, many universities especially the smaller and public ones--will find it easier to resist the demands of a federal agency.
Last year Berkeley and the University of Michigan turned over to the HUAC membership rosters of anti-Vietnam war groups on their campuses.
Harvard's President Pusey was requested earlier this year by a Faculty-student group to declare that he would not hand out any lists even if the HUAC requested them. Pusey refused on the grounds that he should not create an issue before it existed. The Council's proposal seeks to abolish lists entirely and therefore eliminate the possibility of an HUAC request.
Francis J. McNamara, director of the HUAC, called the Councils statement a "backhanded approach to frustrate the law." Students might answer that their universities have an obligation to protect students from unwarranted intrusions into their lives.
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