Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

November 23, 1934

Campus concern mounted about expulsions of students from the City College of New York and the University of California at Los Angeles on charges of “radicalism.” Several hundred Vassar students had signed and addressed, but not mailed, letters to the presidents of the two institutions, charging them with “an infringement upon the right of free speech,” the Student Association called for an investigation by the National Student Federation of America.

On November 24, the federation announced that a committee, consisting of students from New York University, Barnard, Hunter College, and Vassar, would meet in New York to look into the incidents. Katherine McInerny ’35, the president of the Political Association, represented Vassar.

The New York Times’s slight mention of the committee’s subsequent decision to censure the two college administrations provoked a letter, on December 2, from President MacCracken. “This news item,” he said, “gets an obscure two inches in The New York Times today, while athletics gets many columns. In another dispatch to The Times, [Hamilton College Political Science] Professor Frederock Davenport condemns students for their indifference to politics….

“Who is to blame? The faculty and the public that still treat college students as children and playboys, or the students that are struggling without encouragement from any source to maintain student liberty of speech and action, to act collectively, to carry on judicial inquiry, and to make careful decisions?

“If I were an editor, I would reverse these proportions of news space and hail these students…. The action of the National Student Federation of America is a milestone on the students’ march to recognition in the democracy of learning.”

The Years