During the year. . .
Communist China begins the
occupation of Tibet.
Congress approves the McCarran
Internal Security Act, overriding a veto by President Truman. The
law limits the legal rights of those accused of being communist.
Accused communist Alger Hiss
is convicted of perjury and sent to prison for four years.
Over the winter holidays, the faculty Conference
Committee plans for upcoming meetings with the Regents. The
Committee prepares a statement that there is no disagreement
about the objectives. What is in dispute is the best means
of attaining them. The Committee feels that the oath
requirement is at odds with the objectives.
The faculty Conference Committee meets with the Regents Committee. No
agreement is reached on how to resolve the oath controversy. The
Conference Committee makes a proposal that the University accept
existing procedures that faculty are judged individually by their
peers on the basis of competence and character." Regent
Neylan stresses the belief that the faculty created the current
crisis by appearing to support the oath in June, then repudiating
it in September. He states You have to realize this Board
has a right to stand on what it understood was complete agreement
with representatives of the faculty. The faculty reply that
the Advisory Committee negotiations should never have been thought
to represent the position of the faculty without confirmation by
the Academic Senate. Neylan argues that the reputation of the
University will be severely damaged if the faculty appear to be
repudiating anti-communist policies of the University which had
been in effect since the early 1940s. A possible compromise
is explored with a suggestion that the Universitys anti-communist
policies be printed on the back of the employment contract.
The Regents Committee meets but cannot reach a conclusion
to recommend to the full Board. Members are, however, united
in support of the Regents policy forbidding employment of Communists
by the University.
The Regents meet. For the first time Earl Warren, the newly
elected Governor of California, attends a Regents meeting. He
will continue to attend through the oath crisis. Warren is
a close friend of President Sproul, a fellow Berkeley alumnus and
classmate, and will become one of the leading Regents opposed to
the Universitys oath requirement.
The Regents Committee is discharged, and
the faculty Conference Committee is told to work with President
Sproul. Regent Neylan argues that the status of the Regents
is at stake if they give in to the faculty, saying we are
up against a situation in which there is a great reluctance to recognize
the fact that there can never be unity on this thing, except by
abject submission on the part of the Regents, the President and
the Senate to a minority of that faculty. Regent Mario
Giannini (son of A.P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of America and
a former Regent), states that This is one of the issues which
tells whether the Regents are going to run the University or whether
the staff is going to run it. This brings the controversy
into stark contrast: is the University managed by the Regents, with
the faculty essentially as corporate employees, or does shared
governance exist, creating a role for the faculty in University
decision making? At this point a majority of the Regents share
Gianninis basic view.
The Regents also clarify their position on Mr.
Fox. They state he was not a member of the faculty in fact
but a teaching employee and thus not entitled to the
full due process that a faculty member facing dismissal would receive. Faculty
members remain concerned that the Regents could so easily dismiss
a University employee without making clear the process and specific
reasons for dismissal and having a proper hearing.
The faculty Conference Committee, feeling that an explicit anti-communist
policy is inevitable, offers a compromise to President Sproul. They
propose that the annual contracts contain a statement of the Universitys
non-communist policy and that faculty members are subject to that
condition, Without thereby expressing his personal approval
of that policy.
Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy charges that
there are 205 card carrying Communists working in the
State Department. McCarthys charges (later found to be
untrue) and the hearings held by the House Un-American Activities
Committee focus American attention on communism, with strong divisions
between supporters of McCarthys views and opponents of anti-communist
The Regents meet. 42 deans and chairmen of UC departments submit
a statement expressing concern about the damage to the University
if otherwise loyal, non-Communist faculty are dismissed for failure
to sign the oath.
President Sproul reads letters from faculty members
that present views including these:
The facultys opposition to the oath
took time to crystallize and the Regents had grounds for complaint
that the facultys position was not clear at the beginning;
that the opposition to the oath was not led by a small minority
nor was it communist led or communist inspired; that there will
be a number of faculty members with tenure who will refuse to sign
the oath, and among them will be men of national and international
reputation whose loyalty to the state and nation are beyond dispute.
Sproul proposes policies that members of the Communist
party should not be entitled to tenure and should be dismissed from
the University after hearings by the Regents and the Academic Senate
Committee on Privilege and Tenure, that full rights and privileges
of tenure are secured for all other members of the faculty, and
University employees can accept their positions by an oath or affirmation
subject to the policy excluding Communists from membership
in the faculty of the University. Regent Neylan objects
that the proposal does not require UC employees to swear they are
not members of the Communist Party, and proposes that the oath must
state the signatory is not a member of the Communist Party,
or under any oath or commitment, or a party to any agreement that
is in conflict with the policy of the Regents excluding Communists
from membership in the faculty of the University.
The Regents vote 12-6 for Neylans position
faculty not signing the oath by April 30 will be separated from
employment by June 30. This came to be informally called the
Sign or get out policy. Regent Heller, who has
previously opposed the oath, announced that he thought the
action taken by the Regents would be ruinous to the University and
he gave notice that he would do everything he could to defeat it.
The most critical element of the Regents action,
from the faculty perspective, was the assertion by the Regents in
this action that tenured faculty members would be dismissed without
due process. This galvanized many faculty to action who otherwise
did not have strong problems with the oath, and a degree of faculty
unity was achieved that had not previously existed.
The faculty Conference Committee meets several times and decides
to conduct a publicity campaign about the faculty position and also
to prepare for legal action.
The Conference Committee meets with Academic Senate Northern Section
deans and department heads, who give it a vote of confidence to
oppose the Regents' action.
150 faculty attend a meeting of non-signers at Berkeley, and most
present say they will accept dismissal rather than sign the oath.
Following this meeting, the Conference Committee
works to draft a statement of the faculty position. Eventually,
more than 800 faculty sign it. It includes the following: Academic
freedom does not exist where the right of tenure is not inviolate.
The Regents propose suddenly to take away the right of some men
to engage in any kind of research or teaching this University for
a reason totally unrelated to their competence, character, or loyalty. This
is not freedom as it is understood by the scholar. . .the faculty
protests the Regents right to wreck the University by firing
men for no other reason than non-signing of a particular oath, created
by the Regents, without the Regents ever bothering to investigate
whether these men are in fact Communists or otherwise disloyal.
A faculty legal defense fund is started.
Compiled by Steve Finacom