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Expanded Timeline: Events of the Loyalty Oath Controversy and Historical Background

 

Introduction

1940-1948

1949
January-February
March-April
May-June
July-August
September-October
November-December

1950
January-February
March-April
May-June
July-August
September-October
November-December

1951-1956

 

November-December 1949


November 1
President Sproul speaks to the national conference of the American Bankers Association in San Francisco, and addresses the question of whether academic freedom should permit Communists to be faculty members. He says no. “No man can be a member of this subversive organization without taking on the coloration of its leaders and sharing in their guilt. . .What place in a university can be given appropriately to such purblind fanatics as those who use a false and brutal hope to persuade the young and gullible to sign away their American birthright?” Sproul is careful not to refer to the oath, but the press paints his speech as a defense of the oath. 

November
At their regular meeting The Regents pass a resolution to notify Irving David Fox (see September 27) that they would “give consideration to your status in the University of California in view of the testimony that you gave, or declined to give, before the House Un-American Activities Committee. . .”

November 30
The Berkeley non-signers meet to further organize themselves, appointing an eight member steering committee, headed by Edward Tolman, a respected Berkeley professor. For the next several months the non-signers will meet most Friday evenings at the Berkeley Faculty Club. 

December 8
Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai Shek and his his government evacuate mainland China for Taiwan. The Chinese Communist government has won control of the country.

December 13
The Chairmen of the Academic Senate Conference Committee meet with Regent Neylan, chairman of the Regents’ Committee. The faculty representatives argue that there are no known Communists on the faculty, which should be evidence of the ability of the faculty to screen out Communists without Regental interference in academic freedom. Neylan argues that groups of faculty “leftists” and “dupes” are forcing the confrontation with the Regents, and that there is serious concern that Communists are University employees.

December 16
Regents meeting. Irving David Fox appears before the Board, telling them he refused to answer some questions of the House Un-American Activities Committee on the advice of his lawyer. He says in the 1930s he was a member of some organizations that were later viewed as Communist-front groups, and in 1942 he attended some Communist Party meetings and participated in discussions, but never formally joined or signed a membership card. He says “I began to feel this was not the organization for me” and in 1942 or 1943 he stopped participating because “I decided I did not agree with them.” (Fox had earlier signed the special oath required by the Regents, so he was not among the non-signer UC employees). The Regents vote to fire him on the premise “that he does not meet the minimum requirements for membership on the faculty”. Fox is paid a lump sum amount equivalent to his salary for the remainder of his one year T.A.’s appointment. 

This decision leads to considerable debate within the University and concern about what the Regents meant by “minimum requirements” for faculty. The action is condemned by an informal organization at Berkeley, the Non-Senate Academic Employees, made up of teaching assistants, lecturers, and others not eligible for Academic Senate membership.

 

Compiled by Steve Finacom

 

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