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January 13, 1960

In a letter to the editor of The Miscellany News, President Blanding explained the college’s decision to continue to offer students low-interest loans under the National Defense Education Act of 1958 despite its “offensive” requirements of a loyalty oath and non-communist affidavit. Noting that several institutions, including Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Harvard, Yale and Oberlin, had either refused to offer the loans or withdrawn from the program, she quoted a faculty resolution passed the previous June stating that the “faculty deplores the provision in the…act requiring a disclaimer affidavit and joins with other colleges and universities in seeking to repeal the provision.” Assuring students who “preferred not to accept a federal loan under these conditions” that they might apply for a loan from the college, she said that Vassar’s board of trustees “felt that the signing of the oath and the disclaimer were matters of individual conscience and that the college should protest the requirement but should not deny the loans to students.”

“If the offensive provisions are not rescinded,” the president declared, “the matter will be re-opened. I am glad that our faculty and student body are ready to protest what seems to them objectionable in public life. I am glad, too, that our Board of Trustees takes into consideration no only the needs of individual students but the right of students to make their own independent decisions.” On March 21, 1960, President Blanding notified head of the Student Loan Section of the Office of Education that the executive committee of the board of trustees had voted to withdraw Vassar from the loan program as of June 30.

In 1959, Senator John F. Kennedy introduced a bill to eliminate the loyalty oath and the non-communist affidavit from the education act, and on October 16, 1962, President Kennedy signed the bill removing the non-communist affidavit from the defense education act. In the interim, 153 colleges and universities had withdrawn from the law’s loan program.

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