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July 14, 2011
Douglas McGregor of Detroit, Michigan, became the 13th president of Antioch College in 1948. One of the first ever industrial psychologists and a theorist of business management, he applied his training in psychology toward creating the most collaborative workplace possible. He inherited a college under fire from forces of anticommunism at a time when they were perhaps at their most powerful. By the early 1950s, investigation of so called Un-American activities by federal legislators was well established, having been in place since the HUAC led by Martin Dies in the late 1930s. In the age of McCarthyism state legislatures began to conduct their own investigations, and in 1951 the Ohio House formed its own committee to ferret out Un-American activities in its own backyard.
In 1952, McGregor appeared before the Ohio House Un-American Activities Committee, composed of six senators and six representatives. His testimony, reprinted in its entirety, addresses the issue of whether or not Communism represents a danger to the colleges of Ohio in general and Antioch College in particular. McGregor’s position on the issue, while somewhat different from his predecessor Henderson’s, is nevertheless unwavering in support of academic freedom.
TESTIMONY OF DOUGLAS McGREGOR, PRESIDENT, ANTIOCH COLLEGE, YELLOW SPRINGS, OHIO, MAY 19, 1952.
DOUGLAS McGREGOR, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:
By MR. ISAACS [Legal Director and Chief Counsel to the Committee]:
Q. For the record, doctor, will you state your name and address?
A. Douglas McGregor, Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Q. What is your occupation or profession?
A. President of Antioch College.
Q. How long have you been president of Antioch College?
A. Since the summer of 1948.
Q. What has been your background in the field of education?
A. Prior to Antioch, about 11 years at [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] where I was director of the industrial relations section, concerned with teaching, research, and consulting work in the field of labor-management relations.
Prior to that, two years of teaching in Harvard in the Department of Psychology.
Q. Besides being president of Antioch College, do you belong to or hold position in any other organization in the education field?
A. Yes, I am a member of the American Psychological Association, member of the Board of Social Science Corporation, Board of the Psychological Association, member of the American Management Association.
Q. My reason, doctor, for asking you that is to qualify as an expert in the field of education. I think we have done it.
I understand that Antioch College dates back 100 years, to the time of Horace Mann. Can you somewhat briefly for the record bring us up to date on that history in a general way, the history and tradition of Antioch College?
A. I am not sure I am the best person to do that, having been associated with Antioch only four years. It is recent history I am more familiar with than its earlier history.
Of course, Horace Mann is a very well-known figure in the educational world, having been one of the major forces in the early development of public education in this country, came to Antioch as his last major job, as its president in 1853. Antioch was at that time founded by a religious group known as the Christians. Some few years later, Horace Mann and some other friends bought the college and it has been from that time until now a non-sectarian private liberal arts college.
Today it is perhaps best known for a program that began with Arthur Morgan and his presidency in about 1921 under which all of its students spend roughly half of their time for five years working in business, industry and government, and the other half going to classes, with the idea of supplementing class work and text book with practical experience in the field. Some 400 odd employers covering some 30 states in the United States cooperate with us.
Q. And coming to the question which is of concern to this Commission, the question of Communism in the State of Ohio, as an educator, and expert in the field of education, do you feel there is reason for concern concerning Communism in the education field?
A. I feel there is less reason for concern than seems to me is being expressed these days.
Q. Would you expound on that subject further?
A. Yes. I make a sharp distinction myself between the realm of ideas and the realm of action in these affairs, and it seems to me that in the realm of action, the college campus is a place where a dishonest person, a person who resorts to subversive tactics to obtain his ends, a person unable to utilize the well-established democratic procedures of our society is pretty much out in the open. He can't hide very much as he might in other types of organizations, and college administrations are generally alert to those symptoms, and they would no more hire a person dishonest politically than they would a dishonest person in other ways. Consequently, I feel college campuses avoid it in the field of action and are continuously to an individual what is known as subversive activities on the campus.
Q. Has it been your experience that most college administrations are mindful of the fact that there is an interest in education evinced by the Communist Party?
A. I think they could hardly fail to be so.
Q. And what, in a general way do you think are the steps that have been taken throughout the colleges of the United States and Ohio to prevent that infiltration on the college campus or the Communist influence on the college campus?
A. Well, again, I don't know that I can speak in specific terms of the steps that various administrations have taken. My feeling is in talking with them, reading the newspapers, professional journals, and so on, that by and large they have been alert to the problems, have been very concerned that they do not have people in their faculties who are undermining the values that we all hold dear in our society.
I think they have been equally concerned to keep as much of a free market place for ideas in our colleges as we have kept in our economic system over the years.
Q. Isn't that the problem that is facing both the agencies of the state seeking to ferret out Communism and the educational systems, the problem of reconciling on the one hand the danger that Communism presents and on the other hand, the concept of academic freedom which we all seek to preserve?
Q. What specifically on your own campus, is the situation regarding the control of subversive activities, let us say? I believe you have promulgated certain what you term ground rules concerning Communism on the campus. Would you go into that for the Commission, please?
A. Yes. I will need to repeat a little of what I said before, I think. I believe that in the realm of ideas, America has become great and is going to remain great only by encouraging a reasonably wide diversity of opinion, belief, and idea, on campuses and elsewhere.
I don't believe anybody does have the right answers to many of the great important questions that face us in international affairs and in national affairs and in local affairs. Nobody, therefore, has the ability to decide who can teach the right thing in the setting of ideas. Consequently, I believe a college campus should contain people with what we call at Antioch happy diversity of idea, and we have them. A big majority of them are like people in this room, Republicans, Democrats and independent voters. We have some people on the campus whom some people would regard as unduly liberal. I believe the important criterion in this whole area is the person's honesty, integrity and willingness to play within the democratic ground rules that we all observe and believe in. I believe as long as a person will operate on that level, openly, honestly, and with integrity, we have nothing to fear.
The reason that I would not hire a Communist on my college faculty, if I could prevent it, is that I believe that a person who becomes a member of the Communist Party agrees to strategy, tactics, and methods which are basically dishonest, exactly contrary to our democratic rules of action.
Q. Now, I believe that, in effect, was one of the questions which was outlined in the Antioch College News, which you made available to me?
Q. Let me follow on with the next question for the record that was asked you at that time: What about hiring a fellow-traveler?
A. I think the problem becomes very different then, and very much more difficult because among the ranks of people that are called fellow-travelers, there are many sincere people whom I believe would not stoop to dishonest actions, would not seek to subvert the democratic ground rules of our society, but who believe firmly for some reason or other in some cause, be it racial equality, be it greater economic equality than they believe we have, and so on, and those people, for reasons best known to them sometimes find themselves in association with those whom we regard as subversive. I think one must be extremely careful in individual cases to get back to these basic ground rules in making judgments about such people. Personally, I am opposed to the idea of condemning them solely because of their association with one group or another.
Q. Well, isn't it logical to question an individual who repeatedly appears as a sponsor or as a member of organizations which consistently follow the Communist Party lines?
A. t think it may be very logical to question him, but to act with that as the sole criterion for action is the thing that I would think would be possibly unfair to the individual, and, again, to our democratic freedoms.
Q. Does the presence of such an individual on a college campus create a problem?
A. It certainly does.
Q. Would you care to discuss the approach to that problem by the faculty or the administration of the school.
A. Well, when I came to Antioch in 1948, one member of my faculty was, shall I say, under fire on the grounds of being suspected of being too radical [most likely Professor of Physics Oliver S. Loud]. Some people might use the term ‘fellow-traveler’ here. He happened to be up for tenure the first year I was at Antioch and the problem was dumped into my lap as to whether or not to give him permanent tenure on the faculty. I spent several months digging into that man's background, learning what I could, talking to people on the campus and off the campus who knew him well and talking personally with him. What I found was that a considerable majority of the people I talked to disagreed quite flatly, some of them very violently with his political views. Almost without exception, they made it a point to say, in the course of the conversation, ‘However, I have absolutely no question of his personal honesty and his personal integrity.’
I formed the same opinion of the man, of course, in my discussion with him. I think perhaps one further fact is significant. He does not teach in the field of social sciences or government or politics. His job is in the physical science area of the college, and in that area he is one of the best teachers we have on the campus. His skill in interesting students in and motivating them in the field of physical sciences, when none of them have interest there, is without question. I find no evidence that he brings his views into the classroom, certainly not in a subversive way.
My conclusion was that here was a good illustration of a man thought to be too radical in some eyes, nevertheless as far as I could see, honest, with genuine personal integrity, playing his political game openly and quite within the democratic ground rules we see as important. I recommended him for tenure when I finished my investigation. He is still there.
Q. You have certainly fulfilled your responsibility to that professor and to the concept of academic freedom. Is there not also an additional responsibility to the parents of your students or to the State of Ohio, generally, I mean the people of the State of Ohio as it is made up, and how is that responsibility fulfilled?
A. I believe there is. I think there is a responsibility in both the directions you have talked of. That is to say, I think there is a responsibility on the part of any college administration to be careful that members of its staff and faculty do not, in an underhanded fashion, undermine beliefs and values of the students. I think there is an equal responsibility that they do not take it upon themselves to decide what is right to be taught, and, therefore, to slip over into the authoritarian pattern, the dictatorship pattern, of saying this may be taught and this may not be taught in our colleges.
I believe in the Antioch setting where there is an additional factor of some importance, namely, that our students and our faculty are involved formally in the government of the college to a degree which is very unusual among colleges, are in a position to know a great deal about these things, and to see to it that in the long run no individual who is acting without integrity, who is controverting the values of our democracy remains as a part of the group. As I see it operate, I think it is quite clear that that does take place.
I wonder if I might cite one other example which to me was a rather striking one. It occurred within the last few months. A student group on our campus—I should say incidentally that we permit student organizations of an open sort. We do not permit secret organizations of any kind on our campus. The officers of every organization are on record in my office, but within those limits, again, sometimes, within our ground rules, we are willing to permit organizations such as the YPA if there are students interested in such an organization.
A group of such students on our campus invited a speaker to address them at an afternoon affair. This man [most likely Reverend Richard Morford, then director of theNational Council of American-Soviet Friendship, whose recent visit to campus had raised many eyebrows] was regarded by some as being a fellow-traveler. Some have accused him of being a Communist, although as far as I know, he is not an involved or known member of the Communist Party. He came and addressed them. About a hundred people were present at the meeting, including some of the more violent foes of Communism on our campus as well as some of the people who might be thought to be radical. He made his speech, and in the question period, which is a custom on our campus, afterward, he was literally taken to pieces. His logic was questioned, some of his facts were shown to be false, and a number of his ideas were held up to some scorn by the group that were present.
My belief is that that is good education, that students and faculty members together, having an opportunity to see such a person in action, to see the kinds of things he pulls or tries to, and to have his phoney ideas, if they are phoney ideas, exposed, his false logic exposed right there in the setting. That is one of the best ways to learn how to recognize and deal with the person misusing our freedoms and our values.
I think it is an important value of our education system that students are given the opportunity with support and help to learn about these things in that fashion while they are in college. If we simply turn them loose with no opportunity to discover things of this sort directly, they are inevitably going to be babes in arms, we are going to have to learn the hard way afterwards.
Q. Is it your experience that students of most colleges are in a position to evaluate the speakers that come on the campus under the auspices of the various groups on the campus?
A. So long as those meetings are open, publicly announced, there are always, I believe, on college campuses enough interested people who do not share the views of the speaker so that students do have a genuine opportunity, not merely to hear the speaker, but to hear other people who hold his views and opposite views. That is my point.
Q. Is there or should there be any corresponding duty to the right of free speech on the campus to make sure that a speaker sails under his true colors when he appears on the campus?
A. Insofar as it is possible to do so, I should say definitely yes. That is to say, we announce the speaker with such knowledge as we have of him. If he is a secret member of some organization we don't know about, he has the responsibility of making that known, but he may not do so.
Q. Would you deny the facilities of the campus to a speaker who isn't actually sailing under his true colors? I mean, to be specific, if a man is coming on your campus billed, let us say, as a Reverend So-and-So, speaking as a minister, and you have reason to believe or have received information that this individual is actually a member of the Communist Party, and is coming to speak as a member of the Communist Party, rather than as a minister, would you then deny you r facilities to that speaker, or how would you proceed?
A. I don't honestly know. I think it would depend a great deal on the circumstances. Given such a person, such knowledge, quite frankly, I think I would be more inclined to let him come ahead and see to it that I had in the audience the kind of people who could ferret out what he was driving at and expose what he was saying, if it needed exposure, rather than to deny him the platform, because I think that is good education.
Q. Is it not true that, because we are conditioned to accept what we hear from a minister or an educator, where a minister or educator appears on the campus speaking the same words that a member of the Communist Party or a Communist functionary would speak, your students are deprived of the ability to judge for themselves?
A. I think I would say two things to that. One, I think there is some danger along that line, and that is the reason I answered the question as I did. Unless I could be sure I had some sophisticated people in the audience who could expose any subterfuge of that kind, I would be hesitant.
The other point I make is that we tend to underestimate the extent to which college students are passive resistors of the ideas that they hear from professors and so on. There is a kind of notion that the educational process is something like what takes place in a canning factory, that you have empty receptacles, the mind of students, into which you pour something from the professors or text books and fill them up and send them off. You can't be on a college campus without getting the idea that is a wrong ideA. Young people are not passive in that respect. While somebody that they know and admire personally very much may tend to have some real influence on them, I think that influence again is much more in terms of attitude and personality than it is in the terms of contempt of what the man says.
One thing seems to me to be perfectly clear is that young people never take an idea at face value and accept it and swallow it. They spend most of their time arguing about the things that are told to them in the classroom or that they read in the text books. So long as that is true, I have much less fear of the indoctrination idea that comes from just straight propaganda, I think experience generally would bear me out on other college campuses as well.
Q. When you were discussing organizations on the campus, you mentioned the Young Progressives of AmericA. Now as you are probably aware, we addressed a letter to your office in a period when you were out of the city and asked if there was a chapter of the YPA, and, in response to our letter, we received a reply from your office stating that there was a chapter recognized on the campus and giving the size of the organization which said, for example, ‘This year in one division there seems to be eight to ten active members, and the other about 40,’ which would appear to make that the largest YPA organization in the State of Ohio.
Now taking the YPA as an example, the allegation has been made that the Young Progressives of America, generally, not specifically, on the Antioch campus, is a Communist front-organization. When you have such an organization applying for official recognition on the Antioch campus, what are the standards that are applied to determine whether or not that organization shall be granted permission to be a campus organization?
A. I don't think it comes about that way on the Antioch campus. An organization which is open and above board—and I stress that, we don't permit secret organizations—may form for any purpose that it wishes. It must register its officers with my office. It is then in the public eye on the Antioch campus, and its activities are observed by everyone in our setting, if that organization were to attempt subversive actions of any kind, or attempt action that conflicted in any other way with our honest and sincere beliefs and values, we would get together and have a little discussion and probably kick it off the campus. So long as it behaves within the ground rules I have been talking about, we are inclined to grant it freedom and let it go ahead.
I would like to make one other comment, if I might, in reference to that letter. It may well be, I don't know, that this chapter is the largest on any Ohio campus. I still point out that that membership, which, remember, to the best of our knowledge, and I am sure it includes some students who are hangers-on in the organization and not members in the regular sense of the term, represents something less than five percent of our student body.
Q. I also say in that connection that the reason you have an accurate figure on the number of members of the YPA on the Antioch campus is because it is a recognized organization.
A. That is right.
Q. In most other campuses, it would not be a recognized organization and they would have no knowledge at all, no accurate knowledge, certainly, as to whether there was a chapter or how many members there would be in the chapter. In all fairness, to the open information which you gave us, that should certainly be made a part of the record.
Is any further control exercised over your college organizations as to the speakers they may bring or the type of meetings which they may hold?
A. I think in order to answer that, I need to describe a little more fully the nature of our college government, because then the other types of control, perhaps, become clear.
We have two major governing bodies within the college structure, below the Board of Trustees. One is called the administrative council, and it consists of six faculty members, three students, and myself. The faculty members and students are elected annually to their jobs, and that particular group has the responsibility of selection of faculty, for the setting of college program, determination of the budget, and so on. It is the major executive committee of the college.
I might say further, in four years of experience with them, I have never found myself clearly on one side of the fence, on a decision matter, with the rest of the council on some other side of the fence. Should that occasion arise, I would feel free and so would they to take the matter to the Board of Trustees. I want to indicate that this is a setting in which I am powerless or lack the opportunities for leadership.
A second organization called the community council consists of six student members and three faculty members, elected from the college community. That organization is finally responsible to the first one that I mentioned, the administrative council, but within that limit, has responsibility for all phases of campus activity, recreational, fire squad, book store, political action of all kinds, race relation activities, and so on.
They have under them a group of committees and boards who have direct responsibility for such things as political organizations that form on our campus. There is a rather elaborate machinery through which these things are dealt with, talked about, studied, and so on. Anybody on the college campus is free at any time to bring up questions that he may have about activities of anyone of these groups, and, on our campus, such things get a great deal of open and public discussion. If the problem is serious and needs that kind of attention, it comes to my office and to the administrative council where it gets it, but, as far as the formation of organizations within the rules that I have described and the invitation to speakers, the use of college facilities is limited by certain rules as to the number of people who wish to invite them, the times when they can have them, the rules of openness, and so on, permission of the public to be present.
Q. Is this a general rule that when any organization invites a speaker or speakers, the general public must be present?
A. I think I would need for the actual facts there to check with somebody who knows more in the detail here than I do. Barry Hollister [class of 1936], my associate, is here in the room, I think he could answer that question directly and I am not sure I could.
Q. The reason I am curious, I wondered whether the public was able to attend the last meeting of the Young Progressives of America at which apparently Harry McGill [president of the Dayton chapter of the National Negro Labor Council, a suspected communist-front organization] and Vassel Thamel [an organizer for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), then under HUAC investigation], both of whom appeared before the last hearing of the Commission and refused to answer a great many questions concerning their Communist Party affiliation, were apparently the featured speakers. Was that a public meeting to which anyone who would care to ask questions of McGill and Thamel might have been invited?
A. Well, I think I should have read our civil liberties code more immediately before coming up here in order to answer that question. My belief is that all such meetings are open to anybody on the Antioch campus, and similarly open to other people outside, although we don't publicize them in the newspapers. To check that would require checking with Mr. Hollister who I am sure knows the answer, and I don't.
Q. Is there a predominance of so-called left organizations on the Antioch campus?
A. I believe not. If I may list a few that I know of that are active: We have a very active chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Management, our business administration students.
We have an active group of the American Chemical Society. We do not have, interestingly enough, at the moment, either a Young Republican Club or Young Democratic Club, but we have had both at times. There is a chapter of students for democratic action.
Those are the main ones that occur to me as being organizations that are at all active on our campus. I don't know of any others.
Q. Do you feel that it gives, it offers, a fairly rounded type of organization to anyone that may be interested in joining any particular type?
A . I think it offers the opportunity. The thing that impresses me as I observe our activities on a day-to-day basis is that some groups, that I wish very much would organize and become far more active than they are, don't seem to probably because of lack of interest. The great majority of our students, like the great majority of people in any community, are politically rather passive, and don't get, except during the active campaigns of a campaign year, very active in the political affairs. Those who tend to are small in number but vocal and noisy and active. Those are the ones one hears about.
Q. Isn't that the reason that you are here today?
A. I suppose so.
Q. Because of the fact that there is a very vocal group on the campus which apparently is a group that is far in the minority.
Is there any control exercised on the use of the name of Antioch College in connection with activities off of the campus?
A. I am a little embarrassed at not having had in my pocket the civil liberties code which is our governing set of rules with these matters, partly because my understanding was that this was going to be a little different meeting than that, and I didn't come prepared for a discussion of these particular things. I apologize for it.
Again, I believe that in our civil liberties code there are specific restrictions on the use of Antioch's name. Certainly, in the informal sense, we try to get our students to realize that associating Antioch College with personal individual activities is something that is, first of all, unreasonable; and second, is a very difficult thing for the College to handle. Inevitably, of course, both faculty members and students are frequently identified with or from Antioch College and the newspaper stories will indicate a situation which doesn't exist.
Q. Particularly, there was formed at Madison, Wisconsin, on April 25, 26 and 27, of this year, an organization known as the National Student Conference for Academic Freedom, Equality, and Peace, which I think I would not be amiss in saying, has all the earmarks of being a Communist-front organization. In the advance publicity for that meeting, it is stated that sponsors representing certain institutions would be there and Antioch College was one of those mentioned.
Is there any official connection whatsoever between that organization and Antioch College?
A. None whatever. There was no sponsorship by Antioch College, officially or otherwise. I am told that that advance publicity went out stating that the University of Wisconsin was also a sponsor and, as a result of it, the University of Wisconsin refused permission of the organization to meet on its campus. I am sure I would have done likewise.
I think perhaps that is a good illustration of one of the points we are talking about. While Antioch had no responsibility in sponsoring that, some students from our campus did attend the meeting.
Q. I understand the national co-chairman of that organization is on the Antioch campus.
A. Yes, a student. I might add that that student requested permission to invite that organization to hold its next meeting on our campus and was refused on the ground that we feel it is a very different thing to have an inside organization at Antioch composed of our own students and invite a speaker to the campus and arrange a conference on the campus, and have an outside organization come to our campus to carry on its activities. We reserve the right as a college to make that decision on the convenience of the college, and values positive and negative that may be involved.
In the latter case, we said no.
Q. There is one other incident that I would like to have you comment upon. That was the sponsoring of a petition by the Friendship Book Committee on the Antioch campus.
A. This was a year or so ago?
Q. This is recent, May of 19__ I am referring primarily to [Professor of Political Science] Dr. Heinz Eulau.
A. What comment would you like from me?
Q. Would you explain what the incident was, and the approach of Dr. Eulau to the handling of it which I think is probably in line with the official policy of Antioch College?
A. Yes. I should say first of all that petitions sponsored by any student group float around Antioch campus by the dozens on any number of issues, internal and external. Every time I make a move that somebody doesn't like, there is likely to be a petition about it. The same thing is true otherwise.
We have in the basement of the main hall where there are student bulletin boards for all variety of student activities, opportunities for posting of such petitions for people who sign if they wish and not if they do not wish.
This particular petition was on the bulletin board. One of our faculty members saw it and wrote an article to the college newspaper raising questions about the advisability of signing such petitions unless you know a lot about who was behind them and what the purpose was.
For my money, I think it was an excellent article and one that caused a lot of people to take some thought. There is an interesting aftermath to this that I am not sure I approve of, but it is interesting, nevertheless. Within 48 hours after this time this letter appeared in the Antiochian, the petition disappeared from the Bulletin Board and has not been found since. Whether it was some student who signed the petition and decided that they didn't want their names associated with it, or whether somebody else took it, I didn't know.
Q. Are there any particular portions of Dr. Eulau’s letter that you would care to read in the record as possibly summarizing the official attitude toward—at least the official suggestion to students to investigate before they sign?
MR. CORRIGAN [State Representative]. What was the nature of the petition?
MR. ISAACS. A peace petition.
THE WITNESS. It is called “For Peace and Friendship.” It was posted on YPA’s bulletin board. I would like to see the whole letter entered in the record because it is an excellent statement of philosophy on the campus. It is not a matter of college policy, but a single professor is speaking and a lot of people agree with this.
Q. If you would care to offer it, I should be glad to have you read it.
A. Dr. Eulau was about to depart for Europe. He is on a trip --
“Before leaving campus, I would like to call your attention,’ this is to the editor of the record, ‘by way of this public letter, to the petition ‘For Peace and Friendship’ posted on the YPA bulletin board in the basement of main building. By now quite a number of Antioch students’ signatures appear on the petition. It gives me cause for concern. Why?
“I am not opposed to the right of students to sign petitions. The right is guaranteed to every citizen by the First Amendment to the Constitution. I’m opposed to it if students sign petitions without being aware of the implications and possible consequence of their action.
“I'm wondering, for instance, about the pedigree of the petition’s sponsor: The Friendship Book Committee of 125 West 72 Street, New York City. Being known as political ignoramus around this place, (may I say he is a professor of government), I have never heard of this Committee. And I’m just speculating how many of the Antioch signers of the petition know any more about the sponsor than I do, and whether they took the trouble of investigating this sponsor of a petition they are signing.
“There is a real public service to be performed by the Antiochian: Have one of your New York corresponents visit 125 West 72nd Street and find out just what this Friendship Book Committee is that sponsors an ‘American Peace Crusade.’ Who sponsors the sponsors? And who sponsors the sponsors’ sponsor? I smell a rat somewhere.
“There are ways of finding out about this sort of thing. For instance, ask your New York correspondent to find out who the officers of the Friendship Book Committee are, what other organizations they belong to, what else they do in addition to sponsoring a ‘peace crusade.’ Have him find out who else inhabits the premises of 125 West 72 Street, that’s always a clue; if it’s the American Legion, I pay you a buck—or where the money comes from for its noble purpose.
“I have a hunch, of course. Need I label the rat-trap? I think Antioch students ought to know when, why and by whom they get trapped.
“Student political activity is idealistic and innocent. I’m properly skeptical about its long-range effectiveness. I went through the gamut of it myself not too many years ago, even though I was fortunate enough not to get trapped, especially in the halcyon days of the American Student Union. Most of you don’t remember that rat-trap anymore. Or the League against War and Fascism. Or Peace Mobilization. In those days there was no end to front organizations.
“I'm concerned. The pay-off always comes. There was that friend of mine who joined a Steinbeck Committee, so-called, back in ‘36. The Committee had a noble purpose too: To help the Okies and Arkies then pouring into CaliforniA. The Committee had an innocent name and benefited from John Steinbeck's reputation. Steinbeck, my friend and hundreds of other idealists were fooled. It was another front operation.
“In 1943 my friend, then a Ph.D., married, two children, a Democrat by voting inclinations, came to Washington. He needed a job, and an agency needed him. He didn't get it. It was very unjust. He suffered a great deal for the foolishness of his youth. He was finally cleared, happily.’
I perhaps can skip the next paragraph.
“I don't like loyalty and security programs. But I believe in politically responsible conduct, particularly on the part of Antioch students. Responsible conduct in politics means that you know pretty well what you are doing when you are doing it. It means that you are willing, in the future which you cannot foresee, to take whatever consequences your conduct may entail. I feel, I’m pretty sure that most of the petition-for-peace-and-friendship signers don't know what it's all about. And, above all, they may discover that sooner or later they may have a change of heart, that the price of peace and friendship may be liberty.
“What should an Antiochian do to be responsible? Again, an ex-Antiochian comes to mind. Susie Y., in her freshman year, belonged to YPA. She told me later on that she had no particular reason for joining it except that her best friend had joined.
“She used to sit in the front row at meetings and sneer at what Messrs. [Professor of Political Economy Lewis] Corey or [Professor of Philosophy George] Geiger or Eulau had to say about rat-traps. Then Susie went out on her first co-op job, with a union. Something happened. The union refused to be a rat-trap. When Susie came back to campus, she began to do what she should have done in her first year before joining and sneering, she began to read. A proper function for a college student. She didn’t attend waffle breakfasts anymore, and she stopped singing canned union ‘folk’ songs manufactured on Broadway. After a year of reading and contemplation, she joined Students for Democratic Action. She escaped the rat-trap just in time.
“Peace and friendship can be rat-traps. Friendship with murderers is risky. They will stab you in the back at the most opportune moment, and is that peace? No, it’s the last edition of the same old story, the rat-trap story of our time.”
I would like to say once more, that man is speaking as an individual man of our faculty, unofficially for the college.
Q. Wouldn't you say that that pretty well sums up the type of approach that you do seek for the students?
A. I call that, again, good education, in the sense that it is calling the attention of adult students who are perfectly capable of forming their own minds to some things that they may not have thought about, but probably will think about having read that letter.
Q. Now, would you discuss in a general way , the general concept of academic freedom which is one of those terms which is bandied about a great deal? Would you discuss Antioch Freedom—I mean academic freedom as it applies to Antioch, as it applies generally to the field of education? I realize that is a large order.
A. It is a large order. I have already said several things that I think apply.
Q. Let me ask you this: The basic concept of academic freedom was defined, I understand, in about 1940 by the American Association of University Professors. Are you familiar, .at least in general way, with that?
A. That is one statement of it, yes. There have been a great many others by a great many people.
Q. Has the experience of recent years dictated any necessity for revision of that basic concept of academic freedom?
A. I think I would prefer, if I might, to state what I regard the problem of academic freedom to be, rather than to try to argue about a document that is 10 years old. Any document 10 years old needs a little looking at whether it needs revision or not.
My belief is what I might call the free market place for ideas, comparable to the free market in an economic sense. It is an essential ingredient in the American way of life. The reason I believe that is that I believe no individual and no group is competent to say what are the right answers to the problems it faces, in economics, government, politics, in social affairs, and so on, and that therefore the only good answers that can be found are the answers that are found after examination of a variety of points of view and after the development of credibilities about these things; and to examine facts and to examine ideas, just as the public generally decides what are good products in the free market for purchase of products. So, I think, the public has to decide what are good ideas on the basis of a free market place for ideas.
Keeping apart this question of strategy, tactics and subversive actions, now, I am talking in the realm of ideas. I believe we need people who diverge, who differ from the majority of us in their ideas and concepts to keep us from developing clear dictatorship within our democracy of the things that may be believed or may not be believed, and it is only because we have people with divergent views that America stays alive and strong and continues to grow.
Q. Without trying to put words in your mouth, doc tor, do you say that the concept of academic freedom on our campuses does not apply to Communist Party members? I believe you have stated that you were not --
A. My belief today is that that does not apply to them for the reason that a member of the Communist Party forsakes the ground rules inherent in the American Way of life. He forsakes honesty, integrity, and open democratic process in seeking his ends, and it is not permitted to allow him those privileges.
Q. As long as a Commission of this sort deals with Communists defined as members of the Communist Party and an international conspiracy directed from Moscow, having its ultimate aim at the overthrew of the government by force, and violence, as long as we concern ourselves with that aspect, that we would not then be encroaching an the legitimate field of academic freedom.
A. I think it depends on what ways you concern yourselves with that. For example, I believe there is a very real difference, and it is part of my ground rules, between an open, free, investigation of a college campus, and a spy sent out to peer around in the dark corners and find out what he can find out. There are always critics of every college living around on the campus and off the campus, and secret investigations of that kind, are, it seems to me, outside the ground rules. To concern yourself with them openly, publicly, by all means.
Q. I take it that you feel that the protection, the umbrella of academic freedom is not available for protection to the actual members of the Communist Party?
A. I personally feel that it cannot be so used.
Q. Now, doctor, you recently made a speech before the Ohio Regional Conference of Rotary Clubs, I believe it was, in which you advanced the theory that the Communist Party itself would like to see the educational system weakened?
Q. Would you expound on that. I don't want you to simply repeat your Rotary speech, but would you develop that point as you did in that speech?
A. Well, my point was simply this: I think it would be to the advantage of the Communists to gain some real control in college campuses, if they could, or the reason that getting control of youth means getting a lever that can be tremendously useful to them.
My personal belief is that they have not succeeded in doing so and will not succeed in doing so because our college campuses are free and open, and there are plenty of counterinfluences so that the ideas and the values that they preach in the long run affect a very small minority of people. I think that has been proved in the past and is being proved today.
If they can't get anywhere inside, and I don't believe they can the way college campuses operate today, it would be to their advantage to destroy public confidence in our educational system, because that kind f destruction of values, the creation of anxieties, and so on, is a typical Communist tactic. It has been all along. It strikes me that it would be natural—I have no proof of this—consistent with everything we know of the Communists, if they can't attack us from within, they attack us from without. The weapon lies right here in fostering the whispering campaign that colleges are Communist-ridden and can't be depended on, in stressing the types of legislation that limits freedom and it seems there is no patent on counterespionage and it is just as possible to have a man who is a reformed Communist as an investigator, on the one hand, as it is to have a man who is supposedly a reformed Communist, on the other hand, serving the purposes of the Communists for such purposes.
I am not saying that I have any evidence to prove I point. I am saying that it is consistent with what we know of the Communists, and for that reason, as I see what goes on, watch the kind of comments and fears and so on that are being expressed, I wonder, sincerely, whether the Communists are not deliberately utilizing this situation to foster their ends and in a sense to defeat ours.
Q. Have you actually had an opportunity to observe that type of thing?
A. No evidence. I have only the consistency of the argument and the belief based on experience on quite a number of college campuses that they have not been able to obtain a control of a kind that means anything within the college campus picture.
We spend a lot of time and intellectual energy in worrying about what they might do in other settings, and I suggest we might spend a little time worrying about this situation in the reverse fashion that we do.
Q. Is there any additional statement which you care to make either on the subject generally, the college in particular, or colleges generally?
A. I think merely this: I am fully aware of the fact that Antioch has in many quarters a reputation of being unduly radical. Some people say Communist-ridden
I came there four years ago from M.I.T. My own personal political leanings, my own personal values are pretty flatly and strongly opposed to those of Communism. I am unequivocably on the other side of that fence. I have watched Antioch closely and carefully and critically for four years.
I have the feeling today which I have had right along, except that it has grown as I worked in Antioch, that there is virtually no basis for the kind of criticism that is made. Antioch is unusual in its form of government, its programs, the freedom it grants its faculty and students, and for that reason is bound to be suspected. On the other hand, it takes only a few days’ visit on our campus, talking with our students and faculty and an observation that goes on there, to be convinced that we have a genuinely healthy democracy that is clearly in line with the major values of our society.
I find that people of excellent reputation, well-known, who are members of my Board of Trustees, and who are friends of the college and come and spend time with us, share this feeling. In spite of all that has been said here, I want to make the comment that it is my personal judgment that Antioch is in no sense Communist-ridden, Communist-dominated, and it is one of the healthiest organizations democratically speaking that is to be found around these parts.