THE SUSPENDED TEACHERS were asked to speak at the student rally. The students wanted to know if there was “anything in the university that can’t stand discussion.”
But the truth was “subversive”. Acting-President Wright forbade the teachers who had been suspended from addressing the student body, forbade the students from listening.
Now, once again, the ghost of President Robinson stalked the halls of City College. Once again academic repression—students threatened with dismissal—rooms locked to prevent student meetings. Once again police and detectives patrol the campus. A host of new regulations conjured up—red-tape and administrative hocus-pocus, cut to 1941 style, and designed to the fascist pattern. False fire alarms rung to break up a meeting—a student beaten up for distributing a leaflet—and through all this the canting hypocrisy of the administration singing hosannas to an academic freedom it had destroyed.
The new university in America, Mr. Jones?
A teacher forbidden to speak at a meeting of his own colleagues!
Forced to silence, he addressed himself by letter:
“I regret that we are deprived, by administrative fiat, of an opportunity to discuss our common problems. It is of lesser importance that the ban is an affront to me; it is of greater moment that the ban is a slur upon you. Those who decreed it operate, it seems to me, upon the premise that you are incapable of hearing me without being bereft of reason and judgment, thus they insult your intelligence and deprecate your maturity. The administration also seems to question your moral standards in having invited me; in so doing it is haughty but not wise. The ban also flouts your traditional feeling that a man is innocent until proven guilty; thereby it subverts American judicial ideals. Finally, the ban invades your rights of free association and independent judgment; it therefore strikes at your integrity as a citizen, at your opportunity to pursue the social good after your own fashion. It seeks to disorganize and weaken your effective struggle for increased educational budgets adequate to the demand for free higher education and for academic freedom. To these insults and incursions I am confident you will find the way to make fitting response.”