The controversy over whether Communists or persons under sentence should be permitted to speak on New York college campuses was intensified yesterday at Columbia University and City College and spread to Brooklyn College.
Faculty committees at City and Brooklyn Colleges ruled that Howard Fast, novelist, be barred from addressing campus meetings scheduled for next Wednesday. Mr. Fast is awaiting sentence on a contempt citation as one of the fifteen members of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee who failed to produce organization books for the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
On Tuesday City College refused speaking privileges to Arnold Johnson, legislative director of the Communist party, who was to have addressed a meeting of the school's Marxist Cultural Society.
At Columbia, where Mr. Fast was prevented last Thursday from speaking before a campus chapter of the Progressive Citizens of America, two student groups sent letters of protest yesterday to Albert C. Jacobs, provost of the university. University chapters of the American Veterans Committee and Americans for Democratic Action said that without regard for their "advocacy or opposition" to Mr. Fast's point of view "we urge that the university reconsider and rescind its ban on Mr. Fast's appearance.
A temporary committee, representing twenty-four of Columbia's campus organizations, was formed to function until the student council establishes a permanent committee on academic freedom. The committee will press for action by the council at a meeting Friday.
The controversy was greatest at City College as a result of a seeming contradiction in administrative policy. While Mr. Johnson was barred by Dr. John J. Theobald, dean of administration, because he represented a group recognized by the Department of Justice as subversive, an official of the American Youth for Democracy organization, also listed by Attorney General Tom C. Clark as subversive, has received permission to speak on the City College campus today, Leon Wofsy, executive secretary of the New York State AYD, will deliver a talk on "The Challenge to Free Colleges" at 12:30 P. M. before the school's Tom Paine Club.
Dr. Theobald would not comment on Mr. Wofsy's talks. He said, however, that the request by the college's Progressive Citizens of America to hear Mr. Fast had been rejected "purely and simply on the basis of the fact that Mr. Fast is under legal indictment."
At Brooklyn College, Dr. Harry D. Gideonse, the president, said that his faculty's action in barring Mr. Fast, who was invited by the Karl Marx Society, was in line with a long-standing college policy of "refusing permission to speak on the campus to any person whose conduct is under judicial consideration." Dr. Gideonse cited the case of Earl Browder, former head of the Communist party, who was banned from a scheduled Brooklyn College meeting on Dec. 3, 1939, because he was under indictment.
Prof. Lyman Bradley of New York University, who, with Mr. Fast, was indicted as a member of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, spoke at Brooklyn College several weeks ago under the auspices of the school's Progressive Citizens of America and American Veterans Committee.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union joined the dispute at City College in a letter to Dr. Wright urging reconsideration of the decision to bar the Communist party's legislative director. The letter pointed out that "no proper relation exists between the Attorney General's blacklist, on which Mr. Johnson's exclusion was based, and the standards for selecting speakers to college groups.
The union added that ninety organizations are on Mr. Clark's list and that "the position taken by Dr. Theobald would bar anybody connected with any of them." The statement called for "traditional American practices of free expression" and voiced confidence that college students would be capable of "making up their own minds." It was signed by Roger W. Baldwin, national director of the union, and Florina Lasker, chairman of the New York committee.
City College will be the scene today of a mass protest rally scheduled for 12:30 P. M. in Room 315 and an issue of "The Campus" official undergraduate newspaper, is set to appear on the campus criticizing the administration's actions.
The Campus editorial said that "not only does the action deny the very freedoms which distinguish democracy from all types of totalitarianism," but that it "insults the student body by casting doubt on its ability to evaluate, analyze and form decisions on one of the crucial controversies of the day."
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