National and International events this year...
civil war ends with victory for the Chinese Communists. In American
politics, accusations of "who lost China" will become
a major factor in foreign policy and anti-communist debates.
Union successfully detonates its first atomic bomb, producing
consternation in the United States and ultimately leading to investigations
and accusations that American communists helped transfer vital
technology to the Soviets. These events have implications
for the University of California, since the civilian side of the
development of the atomic bomb during the War was under the control
of the University and directed by Robert Oppenheimer, a member
of Berkeley's Physics faculty. There are investigations of the
Manhattan Project and increased sensitivity among UC administrators
about the reputation of the University.
forces in Greece are defeated, largely ending the civil war there.
The post-war partition of Germany takes on a formal character
with the establishment of governments in both West and East Germany.
On April 4 the North Atlantic Treaty is signed, creating the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which becomes a central force
in anti-communist western Europe.
"The Communist party, U.S.A.,
was adjudged by many to be a fifth column within the body politic,
and as a people in fear is no more discerning than a people in
anger, the nation lashed out to secure domestically what seemingly
eluded it international. . .America was disquieted and the uneasiness
of the times could not help but penetrate the consciousness of
the trustees of California's state university."
David Gardner, writing in The
California Oath Controversy, UC Press, 1967, page 11.
As anti-communist sentiment fills
the California State Legislature, University of California administrators
discuss whether the University should require an anti-communist
oath of the faculty. The thought is that if the University takes
action on its own to establish an oath, stronger legislation detrimental
to the University could be forestalled. Thirteen bills introduced
by Senator Jack Tenney are in the Legislature. One of them would
amend the State Constitution by giving the Legislature power to
determine the loyalty of University employees. Seven of the bills
ultimately proceed through the Legislature and are voted on by
the Assembly on June 24. All are defeated and none become law.
However, up through May they appeared to have a serious chance
of winning approval of the Legislature, and this influences the
way UC administrators and Regents act on matters related to anti-communism.
UCLA's Institute of Industrial Relations asks Provost Clarence
Dykstra for permission to sponsor a lecture on campus by Harold
Laski. Laski is a member of the British Labour Party and a professor
at the University of London. Permission is granted, based on the
assumption that Laski will also deliver a lecture at Berkeley.
Event organizers soon discover that Laski has time to lecture
at only one UC campus; however, it is some time before this information
Provost Dykstra of UCLA approves allowing the Graduate Students'
Association to sponsor a debate on campus between Professor Herbert
Phillips, a member of the Communist party who has recently been
fired by the University of Washington, and Professor Merritt Benson,
a Professor of Journalism at the University of Washington. The
subject of the debate is whether Communists can act as free and
impartial scholars. The firing of Phillips and another UW faculty
member has drawn national attention to issues of political ideologies
in higher education and provoked fears that Communists are influencing
American college students. Dykstra conditions his approval of
the debate on a requirement that only graduate students be admitted
to the debate. Undergraduates protest and petition for a larger
audience. Dykstra turns down the request, leading to student and
faculty complaints that the University does not allow sufficient
discussion of political and religious issues on campus. University
administrators point to long-standing policies prohibiting the
use of campus facilities for politically-related activities.
The Regents of the University of California meet. They discuss
the Phillips debate in Executive Session. Several Regents are
critical of Dykstra's decision to allow the debate, including
influential Regents from Southern California who were instrumental
in helping to create the UCLA campus.. Dykstra is asked to attend
the Regents' meeting in April.
Compiled by Steve Finacom