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February 14, 1950

President Blanding released to students, faculty, trustees and alumnae her third annual report. With fear of Russia and communism rising, she urged the importance of defending academic freedom. “Unless we preserve our freedom to teach and our freedom to learn,” she said, “we cannot claim to carry forward the tradition upon which American education is founded. In some places these freedoms are in jeopardy…. In suppression lies our greatest peril.” Expressing complete confidence in the loyalty of the Vassar faculty, she denounced recent attempts to limit the range of books used in the social sciences, in “the fallacious belief that ignorance of an idea will forestall interest or sympathy.”

“Young people,” she said, “are always attracted to whatever at the moment is uppermost in people’s minds and this is particularly true when the ideas are concerned with principles of government. At Vassar we are confident that study of the philosophy and history of any ideologies, including communism, will be scholarly and objective…. We therefore encourage our students to learn as much as possible about Russia, by studying its language and history, by becoming familiar with its literature, government and economic system…. We are convinced that we are strengthening faith in democracy as we develop greater understanding of what it stands for and we do not fear comparison with other forms of government.”

The New York Times

The Years