The Universitys Faculty Bulletin is mailed out, including
a statement that "acceptance letters" for 1949-50 appointments
to the faculty will contain a new oath which must be signed before
faculty can receive their salaries.
The notice, signed by Robert M. Underhill, Secretary
of the Regents, reads:
"The Regents of the University have directed
me to include in acceptance letters when 1949-50 appointments are
made an oath of allegiance in the form to be set forth therein,
and that all faculty and employees must take the oath as part of
the acceptance. This procedure is about to go into effect for new
appointees for the remainder of this fiscal year, but persons taking
the oath of allegiance now will not be required to do so again on
next annual appointments. Salary checks cannot be released until
acceptance letters have been returned to this office properly signed
before a Notary Public."
This is the first notice many faculty have seen
of the new policy; the information comes at the end of the semester,
and does not include the text of the new oath. The Bulletin
was originally scheduled to go out as much as two weeks earlier,
but printing problems delay its release. The delay causes much suspicion
among the faculty that the late notice was purposely timed to take
place at the end of the semester.
Newspapers are full of reports
about investigations of alleged Communist activity across the country.
The perjury trial of Alger Hiss is underway, security arrangements
at the Atomic Energy Commission are being investigated, and the
House Un-American Activities Committee is not only holding hearings
on alleged "subversion" at Berkeleys Radiation Laboratory
during World War II, but has announced its intention to survey college
textbooks, looking for what it regards as subversive or dangerous
A UC administrator tells the press that "We
dont like the idea of oaths--nobody does. But in the face
of the cold-war hysteria we are now experiencing, something had
to be done."
The Northern Section of the Academic State meets and passes a resolution
that the oath requirement should be discussed at a special meeting
on June 14.
President Sprouls office releases the formal text of the oath.
It requires a statement that "I do not believe in and am not
a member of, nor do I support any party or organization that believes
in, advocates, or teaches the overthrow of the United States government
by force or violence."
The Northern Section of the Academic Senate holds a special meeting,
drawing a large crowd of faculty. Most of the faculty present agree
that they are loyal citizens and are willing to take the required
constitutional oath, but many object to the special new oath. They
feel it is ambiguous, an undesirable "political test"
for faculty, a violation of academic freedom, and an act that implies
guilt by association. Professor Ernst Kantorowicz, a renowned medievalist
scholar, reads a statement reviewing the history of oaths and "indicating
the grave dangers residing in the introduction of a new, enforced
oath. . ." He says that throughout history imposed oaths have
been dangerous and calls the oath, "a shameful and undignified
action...an affront and a violation of both human sovereignty and
professional dignity that the Regents of this University have dared
to bully the bearer of this (academic) gown into a situation in
which--under the pressure of a bewildering economic coercion--he
is compelled to give up either his tenure or, together with his
freedom of judgment, his human dignity and his responsible sovereignty
as a scholar."
The meeting passes a resolution to inform the
Regents that the members of the Northern Section "although
unaware of any conduct which warrants doubt about their loyalty
and zeal" request that the special oath be removed or revised,
after consultation with the Academic Senate. An Advisory Committee
of the faculty is empowered to work with President Sproul to find
a solution; however, there is confusion as to whether the Advisory
Committee is empowered to only consult, or actually negotiate on
behalf of the faculty.
The Advisory Committee meets with President Sproul and proposes
that the oath be modified to a statement of University policy on
the employment or retention of Communists which signers would acquiesce
The Southern Section of the Academic Senate meets and adopts the
same resolutions as the Northern Section.
The Advisory Committee of the Southern Section meets with President
Sproul and later writes to him saying it agrees with the Advisory
Committee of the Northern Section.
The Regents hold their regular meeting. They approve a resolution
reaffirming their 1940 anti-communist policy and requiring an oath
that incorporates some of the Advisory Committees suggestions
on wording, but also inserting an explicit statement that the signer
is not a Communist; this reads, ". . .that I am not a member
of the Communist Party, or under any oath, or a party to any agreement,
or under any commitment that is in conflict with my obligations
under this oath."
By this point the semester has ended and the faculty
can no longer be gathered in large numbers. Many faculty members
continue to feel the Regents and/or the University administration
purposely timed the oath approval to make an organized faculty response
On the same day the State Assembly votes down
the various bills proposed by Senator Tenney.
The first formal meeting of "non-signers" of the Oath
is held at Berkeleys Faculty Club. Sixty members of the faculty
attend. They oppose both new and old oaths and declare that the
Advisory Committee was not empowered to act on behalf of the faculty
in negotiating the new oath without referring its proposals back
to the Academic Senate for review. The non-signers decide as a practical
matter they should try to get the oath postponed or removed from
letters of acceptance for the fall semester so the issue can be
discussed again in the Fall.
The chairman of the Advisory Committee discusses the views of the
non-signers views with President Sproul.
The Regents Committee on Finance and Business Management meets in
San Francisco. They have heard of the growing faculty opposition,
and Sproul tells them that a number of senior faculty are concerned
but will be reasonable if "we do not push them about".
Sproul suggests that the oath not be combined with the employment
contract for a year. Sprouls approach is to work with the
faculty to reduce to a minimum the number of non-signers.
Sproul follows up the next week by meeting with
Professors Hildebrand and Lehman, who urge that the letter Sproul
sends to the faculty regarding employment contracts and the oath
be moderate. They feel this will reduce faculty opposition. Sproul
agrees, and Lehman and Hildebrand plan to meet with the dissenting
There are unofficial statements from the Administration
that salary checks will not be held up for those who do not sign
Compiled by Steve Finacom