HUAC: MAY 1960
The events; the aftermath
The Events of May 1960
The Immediate Aftermath
Later Action and Reaction
The Daily Californian Staff Resigns
SLATE Loses Its "On-Campus" Status
The college administrator should be a man
who defends the absolute right of his students to freely discuss and criticize any idea or
issue. Instead, many presidents have become glorified press agents whose sole concern is
selling their college and influencing a favorable public reaction to it . . .
If Cal succeeds in muzzling the students'
governing body, next will come the newspaper and then the students . . .
Francisco Progress, May 16, 1960
This report discusses the consequences for
student political activity at the University of California, Berkeley, of the hearings
conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in San Francisco May 12-14,
We are particularly concerned with the
response of the University Administration to the pressures by the so-called riot of May,
1960. Despite the large body of literature available on HUAC, the film Operation
Abolition, and the demonstrations themselves, it will be necessary to sketch the
events briefly. It is our contention that the public attitude of neutrality displayed by
the University Administration was fraudulent. The Administration's public statements, in
which they claim respect for students' rights while avoiding criticism of any government
agency, were combined with covert attacks upon basic students' rights. Many of these
attacks will be covered in other reports, but this report will try to show how they relate
to the San Francisco HUAC hearings of 1960.
It must be kept in mind that HUAC has always
faced significant opposition in California. Congressman James Roosevelt, in a speech on
the House Floor less than one month before the San Francisco hearings, described HUAC's
previous activities in California and the opposition which these activities engendered:
We let the Committee do even worse things in
California last year; it was one of the most shameful episodes in the history of this
House. The Committee had subpoened 110 public school teachers in early June 1959. Most of
the subpoenas were served on the teachers at school at 9 o'clock in the morning of June 5
. . . .On August 21 the Committee announced that the hearings resulted in the
unprecedented public censure of the Committee . . . .
Whereupon the committee proceeded once again
to defy both due process and common decency. It had its investigator Wheeler send copies
of the files directly to officials of the counties in which the subpoened teachers were
employed . . .
As a result of the Committee's action 4
public school teachers, out of a total of 111,500 have ceased teaching in the State . . .
But while the Committee's California
operations produced so few actual casualties in the schools,more than 100 teachers have
been in emotional turmoil for 10 months . . . The cost to the school system is
incalculable . . . .the overwhelming majority of the teachers subpoened are on
probationary status with their contracts up for renewal in May. Despite the Committee's
retreat some of these may be quietly eased out of the teaching profession by the simple
expedient of not renewing their contracts . . . .
It may surprise you to know that in the
entire annual report for the year 1959 there is nary a word mentioned about the postponed
hearings on the State of California teaching profession. Nothing is said about the fact
that the Communist operation among teachers in California is so extensive and malignant
that additional investigative work must be done. No; nothing at all . . .
We have quoted this speech to indicate the
legitimate depth of feeling shared by students, teachers, professors, community and church
leaders in the Bay Area, towards this House Investigating Committee. This opposition to
the Committee's tactics and goals was described by the California State Senate Un-American
Activities Committee as "an unreasoning hatred toward the House Committee (brought
about by) a steady barrage of insidious and extremely clever propaganda." It is also
quoted to suggest that any view which calls the issue of the House Committee
"off-campus" may be myopic, since one of the Committee's major targets has been
California's educational institutions.
When the Committee announced that it was
going to hold hearings in 1960, numerous groups joined the San Francisco Chronicle
in condemning the Committee's reappearance, including 165 professors at San Francisco
State College, faculty members from Stanford University and San Jose State College, the
San Francisco Labor Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, the State Federation of
Teachers, Local 6 ILWU, the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, the Berkeley YWCA, the
East Bay Jewish Community Center, the Associated Students of Social Welfare at UC, the
National Lawyers Guild, and 300 UC professors.
Naturally enough, since the issue involved
them directly (over 25% of the subpoened witnesses were teachers, and a UC student had
also been subpoened), students were in the forefront of the protest movement. According to
Carl Werthman, in an article for New University Thought, the leadership for the
UC student protest emerged from the following four groups of individuals:
(1). Former leaders of the inactive Student Civil Liberties Union (SCLU), an affiliate
of the American Civil Liberties Union.
(2). SLATE, an on-campus political party at that time.
(3). The Young Peoples Socialist League.
(4). Unorganized graduate students, who had been politically inactive during the
All of these groups had a profound commitment to civil liberties before the Committee
came to San Francisco.
About two weeks before the hearings began,
Aryay Lenske, chairman of SLATE, and Gene Savin, former chairman of the then-inactive
SCLU, called a meeting for those interested in protesting against HUAC. Approximately
fifty people turned out at this first meeting, and they decided to form an ad hoc
committee called Students for Civil Liberties (SCL) and to begin circulating a petition
calling for the abolition of HUAC. This petition received 2,000 student signatures within
four days. At the next meeting, the Students for Civil Liberties decided to hold a rally
in San Francisco's Union Square and organize a picket line, both to coincide with the
opening of the Committee's hearings.
After the rally some people went to City Hall
and waited to get into the hearings (which were being held in the Board of Supervisors'
room), while others joined the picket line of about 700 persons in front of the City Hall.
It must be emphasized that the picket line outside, and not the demonstrators inside the
City Hall, was the organized and intended vehicle for student protest. It was organized by
the Students for Civil Liberties, planned well in advance, and was well monitored,
orderly, and peaceful from beginning to end.
Those students who did attempt to get into
the hearings Thursday afternoon were ignored in favor of people carrying white passes
issued by HUAC. The Committee investigator Wheller (the man who gave HUAC's files to the
California school boards) said, "there were about 150 passes. I issued them to
individuals--to keep the Commies from stacking the meeting. We wanted some decent people
in there." It should be noted that the number of passes is misleading; each pass
admitted up to five people. (The hearing room held around 200 persons.) On Thursday
afternoon, there was disorder inside the hearing room, and witness Archie Brown was
ejected. This got the big headlines for the day, and the rally and demonstration outside
was pushed off the front pages.
Originally, the students had not planned any
protests for Friday. Midterms were coming up, Thursday had been a tiring day, and HUAC was
planning hearings on Saturday, and leaders hoped for a big turnout then. The disorder
inside the hearing room on Thursday, however, made it necessary for leaders to call
another orderly demonstration, because 1) they were denied the publicity they had been
seeking and 2) they had to be present to make sure that students who were there could be
controlled. Leaflets again asserting the passive, non-violent approach were handed out to
Once again the white card system of
admissions to the hearings was a sore point, and the situation became explosive on Friday
morning when white card holders were admitted before students who had been in line for
hours. Student leaders, anxious to preserve order, met with Sheriff Carberry, who said
that he would ask the Committee to reconsider its white card policy and admit everyone on
a first-come, first-served basis in the afternoon. The sheriff also promised to be on the
scene all day. However, the actual events of Friday afternoon turned out quite
Radio reporter Fred Haines describes those
The "Friends of the Committee"
gathered just to the right of this line (the line of students who had been waiting for
several hours) . . . As I watched, (Police Inspector Michael) McGuire opened a way through
the center barricade and began to admit the white card holders one at a time; for a moment
the waiting crowd paused, and then an angry roar went up. Those in the rear, who were
halfway down the stairs and couldn't see what was going on began to edge forward and in
the resulting crush began to press the flimsy saw-horse barricade toward me and the police
officers who leaped forward to hold it. Angry cries of "Hold it! Stop pushing!"
came from those in front; the barricade held and the police pushed it back to its original
position . . .
The Barricade back and the crowd quiet,
McGuire suddenly noticed that the white card holders, who were still filing through,
included in their number some students--he lunged forward and grabbed one of them roughly.
The student wrenched himself free, shouting angrily, "I've got a white card!"
McGuire taken aback, let go and seized another by the lapels of his jacket--the young man
thrust a 35mm camera in McGuire's face and tripped the shutter. Again McGuire let go, and
several students managed to slip into the Chambers.
. . . Already the singing was beginning
again . . . There was only one last move; the picket monitors and others began passing the
word to sit down on the floor . . .
Four or five minutes had passed since the
doors were closed on the expectant crowd, and the crisis was safely over. I supposed that
the police might begin wholesale arrests shortly, but the possible eruption of violence
had been neatly averted, with the vast majority of the crowd safely self-immobilized on
the floor . . .
Moments later, an attorney who was
representing two of the witnesses made his way across the rotunda and arrived behind the
barricades just in time to see McGuire opening one of the hydrants. He ran over to the
officer shouting, "You can't do this to these kids." McGuire shrugged him off.
An officer behind the center barricade picked up the nozzle of one of the fire hoses which
had been unrolled from the floor and pointed it at several students sitting just beyond
the barricade. "You want some of this?" he shouted. "Well you're going to
get it." One of the young men waved at him and kept on singing. A trickle dripped
from the nozzle, a spurt, bubbly with air--and then the hose stiffened with the full
pressure of the water, which blasted into the group of seated demonstrators.
The rotunda seemed to erupt. The singing
broke up into one gigantic horrified scream. People fled past me as I ran forward, trying
to see what was going on; a huge sheet of spray, glancing off one granite pillar, flashed
through the air in front of me, and I retreated . . . .
For the first time I had a moment to think,
to take stock of the situation . . . .during the past few minutes they'd dumped thousands
of gallons of water inside a public building, causing several thousand dollars worth of
damage (not counting whatever human injury there had been). And they had accomplished
nothing. Perhaps 50 people of the 200 had fled . . . now they had 150 people wet, angry,
and injured, most of whom were rooted to the spot and determined to make as much noise as
ever before. (quoted in Student, see ref.)
Police violence during the "riot",
which resulted in the arrest of 68 persons, has been well documented in many articles,
(See for example: the May 14, 1960 article in the San Francisco Chronicle.)
The next day, partly as a response to the
brutality demonstrated by the police on the previous day, and partly as a continued
expression of opposition to the Committee itself, between 1500 and 2000 persons picketed
the last session of the Committee's hearings. Besides the picket line, about 3500
predominantly anti-Committee spectators massed outside the building.
Community response to the
demonstrations--that is, to the events of Friday afternoon--were, of course, negative and
indignant, as reflected in the editorials of the San Francisco papers. However, as
evidence of police brutality mounted, the charges against all but one of the demonstrators
were soon dropped. That one demonstrator, Robert Meisenbach, who was charged with beating
a police officer (and was alleged by the Committee to have started the "riot" by
jumping over the police barricade), was tried almost a year later; he was acquitted of the
charges against him. The decision by the jury and the testimony of witnesses in the trial
itself, substantially disproved the Committee's charges of student violence and other
inaccuracies reported by the Committee and the Press following the May 14
"riot". As the San Jose Mercury editorialized a few days after the
Unless the House Committee wishes to attack the integrity of the court or the jury that
heard the Meisenbach case, it stands convicted of a grievous misstatement of fact
regarding the manner in which the riot got under way. Such lack of regard for accuracy can
only result in a further diminution of public confidence in the Committee.
The response of the House Committee on
Un-American Activities to the events of the demonstration was quite in line with the
tactics and beliefs of its members: it labelled the demonstrations "Communist
inspired", the students as Communist dupes, and proceeded to produce the now famed
film, Operation Abolition, which proported to give the facts about the events in
San Francisco. This film, shown throughout the country, was filled with inaccuracies and
distortion of facts, as eye-witnesses have testified; it was a piece of propaganda used by
the Committee to justify its own existence. The Hoover Report titled Communist
Target--Youth, which appeared on July 18, 1960 about a month before Operation
Abolition was released, contained the same inaccuracies as appear in the film and
seemed also to be a propaganda production of the Committee, since it was not an official
FBI report and since it also bears the name of HUAC. According to David Horowitz, in Student,
the information in the Hoover Report "was drawn entirely from police reports . . .
which were totally discredited at the Meisenbach trial in the spring. Moreover, as William
Sullivan, an investigator for the FBI, admitted on campus on November 28, 1960, not a
single student was interviewed in the preparation of this report."
We are, of course, most interested in the
response of the University community to the 1960 HUAC demonstrations. The student,
faculty, and administration action and reaction stemming from these events extends over a
long period of time and involves a large number of people. Therefore, a rather lengthy
discussion of these repercussions follow.
The repercussions of the demonstration for
the University community were many and diverse. For organizational purposes, we will
divide these repercussions into the following categories: 1) Immediate action and
reaction--administration, faculty, students; 2) Specific action and reaction--the cases of
individual students; 3) Later action and reaction--students, faculty, and administration.
1) Immediate Action and Reaction.
In response to the events of May 13 and the
attacks upon the University and its students resulting therefrom, students quickly
organized and prepared themselves to meet the HUAC controversy head on. It must be said
that in general the HUAC "riots" helped generate and revive student
organizations throughout the State. TASK at San Jose State and SCOPE at San Francisco
State were given shots in the arm by the revival of interest generated by the police riot
and the film Operation Abolition. At our campus, two groups took upon themselves
the responsibility of meeting the Committee's charges against the students and
disseminating the facts of the HUAC demonstration. The first group, formed shortly after
the demonstrations, was an organization known as BASCAHUAC (Bay Area Student Committee for
the Abolition of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee), formed to combat the
Committee in general and the film Operation Abolition in particular. Under the
leadership of Burton White, Irving Hall, and others, BASCAHUAC printed and sold numerous
pamphlets concerning HUAC and the riots. The second group which became a spokesman for
student protest against the Committee and its film was the already existing student
organization SLATE. Besides printing leaflets and organizing meetings and rallies
protesting the Committee and clarifying the events of May 13, SLATE took it upon itself to
distribute a record, titled Sounds of Protest, produced by student Gerry Gray,
which tried to present a factual account of the May 13 "riot" as a retort to the
Committee's film, Operation Abolition. This record was advertised and sold
through such national magazines as the Nation, and was one of the major factors
in SLATE's change of status by the administration a year after the riots (June, 1961).
This later repercussion of the HUAC demonstration (SLATE becoming off-campus) will be
discussed in detail in Section (3). Immediate student sentiment was also expressed in
editorials and letters in the Daily Californian, in which students showed general
disgust for the police action and sympathy with the student demonstrators.
The faculty at Cal, and professors and
teachers at other Bay Area schools, also expressed concern for student demonstrators and
dismay with the police involved in the May 13 incident. As reported in the Daily
Californian on May 18, UC faculty members formed an advisory committee of Bay Area
college faculty members to advise students involved in the protest, to ascertain the facts
surrounding the "riot", and to raise funds for the defense of the arrested
students. Among those faculty members involved were UC professors Phillip Selznick,
Sociology, Henry Nash Smith, English, Kenneth Stampp, History, and Lewis Feuer,
Philosophy. On May 19, the Daily Californian reported that the California State
Federation of Teachers passed a resolution praising the demonstrators and condemning
police action, and said that they would raise funds for the defense of the arrested
students. 84 professors from Stanford University sent a petition to the Mayor of San
Francisco, stating: "The evidence drives us to conclude that the police acted with
unwarranted brutality . . . .Our understanding of the evidence also leads us to declare
that, contrary to a wide misinterpretation in the press, the demonstration was for the
most part a responsible protest by mature college students against what they deeply felt
to be the committee's intolerable infringement on civil freedom."
The administration's attitude immediately
following the demonstrations was one of apparent neutrality. Clark Kerr and Glen Seaborg's
public statement after the "riot" stated that the students went there as private
individuals or as members of voluntary organizations. They were not in any way
representing the University or the student association. Their actions as individuals
off-campus on non-University matters are outside the sphere of the University (S.F.
Examiner, May 16). While apparently neutral (i.e. this issue does not involve the
University; the students acted as individuals on an off-campus issue), the University
administration also conceived of itself as having the right to act in this off-campus
matter, that is, to punish the students on-campus for their off-campus activities. In the
same article in the Examiner on May 16, it is stated: "A UC spokesman said
the Cal students among those arrested could be disciplined but that any such
action would have to await the police report." What the administration is saying is
really quite incredible: they have the power, if they see fit--and depending upon police
reports (very reliable sources)--to punish their students on campus for legal,
constitutionally protected off-campus activities. What the University would have
done if the charges hadn't been dropped against all but one of the arrested students is
wholly a matter of conjecture. What is clear, however, is that the Administration would
not have felt that they were unable to punish students for "their actions as
individuals off-campus." It must be pointed out that the administration at no time
issued a statement supporting the student demonstrators or criticizing the violence of the
police or the tactics and goals of the Committee.
2) Specific action and Reaction--Individual
Students under Attack.
As a result of their participation in the
demonstration against HUAC in May 1960, several University students came under special
attack. Three foreign students were denied extensions of their visas: Mary McIntosh,
Christopher Bacon, and John Johnston. The first two had been arrested, Johnson had not,
but it must be remembered that all charges against the arrested students were dropped
(except in Meisenbach's case) and that no one was convicted of any crime. The
administration remained neutral on all three matters. The Johnston case aroused the most
furor in the University and in the larger community, because he needed only six months to
complete his doctoral thesis in physics. Students organized a petition campaign to have
Johnston's visa renewed. The National Students Association passed a resolution urging the
Immigration and Naturalization Service to reconsider its decision. According to David
Horowitz, in Student, 500 graduate and undergraduate students attended a meeting
at which this resolution was read. As a result of community criticism, the immigration
Service revised its decision in the Johnston case and extended his visa for six months.
However, the other two foreign students were not allowed to remain in this country.
A second case of individual harassment of a
student demonstrator was that of Jane O'Grady. Miss O'Grady was a graduate student in
sociology and had received a Coro Foundation internship for the year following her
participation in the HUAC demonstrations, during which she was arrested. In the fall of
1960, the Coro Foundation withdrew its grant to Miss O'Grady saying that it had taken such
action to maintain "a free flow of communication" within the Coro Foundation. It
added that the Coro Foundation must "abstain from any political participation and to
diligently keep clear of all controversial matters." Of course, the elimination of
Miss O'Grady by the Coro Foundation proved to be one of the biggest controversies in the
aftermath of the hearings. The San Francisco Labor Council sent a CORO public service
award which it had received back to the Coro Foundation with the notation
"unwanted" on it. The next year the Berkeley Chapter of the American Association
of University Professors threatened to withdraw its support of the Coro Foundation unless
a $2500 Coro internship was restored to Jane O'Grady. (Reported in the Chronicle,
June 1, 1961). The UC students again expressed their protest through petition.
Furthermore, a motion was introduced in the Executive Committee of the ASUC criticizing
the Coro Foundation for its actions. It is in this incident that one again sees the
administration's policy of "neutrality" in action. The administration s
representative to Ex Comm advised Ex Comm that action on the O'Grady case would be
illegal, since the issue was off-campus (the Coro Foundation was off-campus). However, the
administration failed to notice that Miss O'Grady was indeed an on-campus issue--she was a
student at the University. Be that as it may, the Ex Comm took the administration's advice
and failed to pass the resolution.
3). Later Action and Reaction.
In this section we will describe incidents in
which the true character of the administration's neutrality is revealed. All three
incidents reported here in some way involve repressions of civil liberties by the
administration. All imply the administration's sensitivity to political pressures, a
sensitivity which allows them (or forces them) to act in nonlibertarian ways. All three
reflect the inconsistency of the administration's off-campus/on-campus dichotomy, for they
show that while the administration may be firm in preventing students or faculty members
from acting on what the administration defines as off-campus issues, the administration
itself will respond to off-campus pressures in making policy for the entire University
The first incident involves a U.C. professor
of philosophy, John R. Searle. Late in the fall semester of 1960-61, Professor Searle was
invited by the Law Students Association to speak at Boalt Hall after the showing of the
Committee s film, Operation Abolition. According to Professor Searle, the film
was to be shown on a Friday at around 12:30 P.M.
At about 11:30 I received a telephone call from (a Law Professor) with the following
information: Professor Keeler of the Law School and Vice Chancellor Kragen had forbidden
my speech in Boalt Hall. The meeting, they said, was in violation of the Kerr Directives,
because seven days notice is required for such a meeting and no such notice had been
given. However, the authorities were prepared to waive the requirements of the Kerr
directives provided that either (a) the film be shown by itself without any speaker
afterwards, or (b) another speaker be brought in to oppose my speech on the film. But
under no conditions was I to be allowed to speak unchallenged about the film. The reason
for this, I was told, was the speech was controversial, and a controversial speech
required a speech on the opposite side.
As Professor Searle points out, the assumption by those adminstrators involved in the
decision was "that the film itself was not controversial but was a neutral document
over which controveray might range", hence the possibility of showing the film by
itself. Given the ruling by the administration, Professor Searle and the Law Students
Association could 1) show the film without a speaker, 2) show the film to a large group,
and then allow Professor Searle to speak in a professor's class (a professor can invite a
speaker to his class without getting anybody's approval), 3) Cancel both film and speech,
4) show the film in Boalt Hall and have Professor Searle speak somewhere off-campus
afterward. The latter was the course taken; Professor Searle spoke in a fraternity house
across the street from Boalt Hall.
This incident raises the following questions
1). Why was it not in violation of the seven
day rule to hold a debate on the film, while it was in violation of that rule to have
Professor Searle speak alone? It will be recalled that one of the alternatives offered by
the administration was to show the film and have a debate -- without seven days notice
being required in that case.
2). Why was permission granted to show the
film without any speaker? The administration's answer to this question was that the
showing of the film was to be part of a law class. This was not true; although originally
scheduled for a law class, interest in the film was so great that the Law Students
Association instead sponsored the film and advertised as open to the public. About 150-200
persons attended the film. Professor Searle's speech was advertised, along with the film,
as open to the public, since it was to be a part of the same program as the film showing.
3). The third question was raised by
Professor Searle, and we quote him:
What right do administrative officers have to forbid faculty members to address student
groups, and what was the nature of this administrative act in this case? University
Regulation No. 17 . . . states "Applications for permission to hold special meetings
or events must be filed at least a week in advance." . . . It is not stated
explicitly that the rule applies to speeches given by members of the University faculty as
well as off-campus speakers, and it would be interesting to know if it has been invoked
against a faculty member. There is, it seems to me, some reason for supposing that the
invocation of the rule in the present case was somewhat unusual. First, because apparently
an agreement was made to waive the rule provided certain conditions were met. There are no
conditions or procedures for waiver stated in the rule. Second, the Law Students
Association is not in the habit of complying with the rule (so I was told) and it is not
usually invoked against them (I was told this, I have no way of knowing if it is true or
false). Third, at least one student group, the Graduate Philosophy Club, never complies
with this rule and it is never invoked against them. In fact a recent meeting of the
Philosophy Club addressed by Professor Mates was a violation of Regulation 17 on no less
than three counts . . . No one seemed to mind too much. Fourth, the film was shown to the
radiation laboratory with a speaker who spoke in favor of the film. They obtained
no administrative permission and as far as I know no action was taken against them for
their failure to do so. All of these considerations raised the following question in my
mind: Was the rule invoked as a technicality to facilitate the silencing of a view
considered uncongenial? (Emphasis added)
4). The last series of questions were also
raised by Professor Searle, and again we wish to quote him:
What is the attitude, if any, of the University toward my making public criticism
of this film? The film is implicitly at least a smear on this university and its students,
and audiences I have encountered regard it as such. I construe myself in giving these
talks as defending the University . . . Yet in the Law School affair the attitude of
at least some officials appeared to be that the film was noncontroversial, but that to
oppose it, i.e. to advance the view that our students are not Communist dupes, is highly
controversial and requires rebuttal. (Emphasis added).
The actions by the University in this case
make highly questionable the earlier pose of neutrality taken by the administration on the
HUAC demonstrations. In this case the University acted to repress a critic of the
Committee's film (a film which does indeed attack certain University students) on
technical grounds, which, as Professor Searle points out, are extremely dubious.
The Resignation of the Daily Californian
A second repercussion of the HUAC
demonstrations was the resignation of the Daily Californian Staff on October 24,
1960. The link between the DC/s staff resignation and the HUAC demonstration is
established in the S.F. News-Call Bulletin article on October 24, 1960.
A long standing hassle over politics--dating back to the student riots at City Hall
last spring--blew up today with the mass resignation of the staffs of the University of
California's Daily Californian and Four other student publications . . . .
The mass resignation was touched off when the
student executive board voted to change its bylaws to provide for appointment of a
"campus at large" member to one of the top 10 positions on the daily's staff.
Silver (the D.C. editor) and his fellows
called this "ridiculous and odious" and "incompatible with the best
interests of the university community." . . .
It (the row) flared last spring when the
paper urged students to demonstrate against the House Un-American Activities committee at
its City Hall hearing--a demonstration which turned into a wild riot.
Again this semester, the paper took
unprecedented action and endorsed the candidacy of Mike Tigar for the post of student
representative at large.
The bylaws permit political indorsements by
the paper when seven of the top ten editors agree--but the privilege had never before been
The Ex Com members feelings were lacerated by
the fact that the paper's candidate, Mike Tigar, was the candidate of SLATE . . .
When the executive committee voted the change
in the bylaws last night, the Daily Cal staff was followed out in the resignation parade
by editors of the Pelican, humor magazine; Blue and Gold, the yearbook; Occident, the
literary publication, and the California Engineer.
Traditionally the Daily Cal editors have been
chosen by the editors of the previous year.
Candidates work their way up through the
ranks . . . .
Until now, however, it (the ASUC executive
board) has not interfered with the staff's editorial appointment procedure granting its
approval of whatever names were submitted.
Dan Silver, the resigning editor of the Daily
Cal, was the assistant editor who wrote the editorials attacking HUAC in May of 1960;
he was also the assistant editor who wrote anti-Communist editorials during the spring
1960 term. However, when he was appointed Chief editor at the end of the spring 1960
semester, after the Daily Cal had been under attack by members of the Committee
and others for being a leftist or "pink sheet," the Executive Committee
considered a motion to review the appointments of the top four editors; after a long
debate, the motion was defeated. In the fall semester, however the student government
found a way to "legally" remove the editors of the Daily Cal.
Since the subject of the Daily Cal
resignations is covered extensively in another appendix. we shall not give here a detailed
analysis of the events surrounding the strike, except to point out that 1) the action of
the Ex Com was an attempt to silence a political viewpoint, not an attempt to enforce
existing regulations, since the Daily Cal had the right to endorse candidates; 2)
the political viewpoint which the Ex Com attacked definitely included anti-HUAC sentiment,
and such sentiment had been heavily criticized by individuals outside the University
community for being "Communist inspired" and "pinko" (see, for
example, the Committee's film, Operation Abolition); and 3) there is good evidence that
the administration supported the actions of Ex Com to change the Daily Cal bylaws
and wanted more direct control of the political opinions expressed by the DC
staff (for documentation, see the Appendix on the Daily Cal Strike.)
SLATE Loses Its "On-Campus" Status
A third repercussion, occurring about a year
after the "riot" and revealing the non-neutrality of the administration on the
HUAC controversy, was the change of SLATE's status from on-campus to off-campus. Since the
events leading up to Slate's change of status are complex and somewhat confusing, we shall
try to outline clearly these events in order to develop the connection between the HUAC
demonstration and the administration's action on SLATE, and will attempt to explain why
such a connection could exist.
1) It must be kept in mind that SLATE was the
major permanent on-campus student organization which organized the HUAC demonstration; It
was a major center of all political activity on campus during the year preceding and
following the "riot", as the State Committee on Un-American Activities points
out in their 1961 report. Furthermore, SLATE distributed the record, Sounds of
Protest, produced as a rebuttal to the Committee's film Operation Abolition
and advertised throughout the country. This record is indirectly involved with the events
leading to SLATE's exit as an on-campus group, as will be documented later. In sum, SLATE
was probably the most vocal and active on-campus critic of the Committee, and was a leader
in almost all political activities on campus.
2) As mentioned above, SLATE was the
distributor of the record Sounds of Protest, with production and ownership of the
business in the hands of individual students. As a matter of policy, the UC administration
was notified of this arrangement and an advance copy of the record was submitted to one of
the deans for auditing. The university apparently had no questions of especial substance
about the record, but before Christmas vacation in 1960 a summons came requesting that one
of the producers see Vice Chancellor Kragen concerning the proposed advertisement of the
record. At this point no advertisements had yet appeared, but copy for them had been made
and the university notified of its content. For purposes of identification, the
advertisement explained that the distributor, SLATE, was an officially recognized student
political party at the University of California, Berkeley. The following is an account by
Gerry Gray, producer of the record, of his meeting with Vice Chancellor Kragen in
Though I did not see any other way of identifying SLATE (than as it is above), I had
wondered about a possible legal question arising in this area. My attorney, however,
advised me that in his opinion such identification was within the law. It was well that I
had checked this particular point with my lawyer, for the first line of argument taken
with me (by Vice Chancellor Kragen) was that the proposed mention of the University's name
was in violation of the law. I replied that I had a contrary legal opinion and that I
thought, therefore, that the issue had at least not been settled by law. The legal line of
argument ceased there and I was next told that the administration would prefer that I
not proceed with sale of the record because any further connection of the University with
the demonstrations could seriously affect its possibilities for getting funds,
including government money, and because such connection would also affect the University's
image with prospective U.C. students in other parts of the country. The reliance on this
argument, rather than the legal one, seemed to indicate, although it did not prove, that
the legal question was open, or at least that the University did not wish to resolve the
problem through legal means. Unless I had first sought legal advice on the legal question,
this second argument used by the Vice Chancellor, which seemed to tell a great deal, might
not have arisen. (Emphasis added).
This account is important because it shows
that the first complaint registered by the administration about SLATE's identification was
directly related to SLATE's sponsorship of the record Sounds of Protest, a
rebuttal to the Committee's film, Operation Abolition; it is even more important
because it reveals the administration's motivations in wishing SLATE not to identify
itself as an on-campus political party: the university could not get funds, or would
receive a bad image if it were in any way connected with the HUAC demonstrations.
3). On March 22, 1961, one day
before SLATE sponsored Frank Wilkinson to speak on campus, President of the State Senate
Hugh Burns predicted the loss of campus rights for SLATE. "Eventually," he said
in the Daily Cal., "SLATE will be exposed for what it is-- and I think that
there is a possibility that they will lose their campus group rights." Assemblyman
Don Mulford said on the same day: "I think they (SLATE) have outlived their
usefulness--if they ever had any. . . . I have reason to believe that the university will
look into SLATE." These statements are most remarkable in that 1) SLATE was indeed
soon "exposed for what it is"--by Senator Burns himself in the Burns Un-American
Activities Committee Report of 1961, to be discussed below, and 2) the University shortly
carried out the predictions of these political figures.
4). On March 30, 1961, SLATE was
notified by Dean Shepard that its identification as a student political party in the
advertisement for the HUAC record was in violation of its agreement with the University in
1958 specifically not to so describe itself if it was to obtain the status
"officially recognized" student organization. Such a status permitted SLATE to
hold meetings on campus, etc. While it is true that describing itself as a political party
was a violation of its original agreement with the University, many people questioned the
motives behind the administration's letter of March 30, since after 1958 SLATE had
gradually slipped into the habit of describing itself as a student political party without
the administration once calling the original agreement to its attention or once chastizing
the student newspaper for so identifying SLATE. In fact, Dean Shepard himself admits this
fact in his letter of March 30 to SLATE when he said, "During the past three
years, such terminology has been increasingly used by yourself and by others to
describe your organization." (Emphasis added) In his letter, Shepard warned that
SLATE "must abide by the original terms of recognition and refrain from identifying
itself as `a student political party'," particularly in the advertisement of the
record Sounds of Protest. At this point no threat to throw SLATE off-campus was
5). On May 11, 1961, Mike Myerson,
then chairman SLATE, was called into Dean Shepard's office to discuss a leaflet which used
the phrase "campus political party. At this time, Myerson apologized and explained
that the leaflet had been written by someone who had no known about the March 30th letter,
an explanation which Shepard said in a letter, later, he was willing to accept as
reasonable. Shepard then told Myerson that SLATE was not to use the term "political
party" again. This Myerson promised to do.
6). According to the S.F. Chronicle
(June 13, 1961) the university was given a copy of the State Un-American Activities
Committee 1961 Report--hereafter referred to as the Burns Report in honor of its chairman
Hugh Burns--on Thursday, June 8, 1961. This report, released to the public on
June 13, 1961, called SLATE the perpetrator of communist propaganda, and the leader in the
HUAC demonstrations. Most of the report, in fact, was an "expose" of SLATE's
"subversive activities". The report also attacked University President Kerr,
stating that he had opened the campus gates to "communists, faculty members,
students, and anyone else who cares to utilize the university property as a brawling
ground for political controversy."
7). On June 9, 1961 Dean Shepard
sent a letter to Mike Myerson informing him that henceforth SLATE "may in no way
identify itself with the University nor use any of its facilities, including those under
the supervision of the Associated Students." It is extremely important to note why,
according to the administration, SLATE's status was changed. It will be recalled that Dean
Shepard had warned on May 11 that SLATE was not to identify itself as an on-campus
political party again. After May 11, SLATE did not violate the administrations ruling
on identification. Rather, the violation which the administration cited was the
signing of a telegram to Ohio State (about Frank Wilkinson) sent by SLATE on April 17,
1961. According to Dean Shepard in his letter, he had not been aware of the telegram
on May 11, but was now using it as evidence of a SLATE violation "which occurred
after due warning." But there had been no SLATE violation after May 11th, and it
should be remembered that before April 17 SLATE had received only one official
notification of its violation of University policy in which warning was directed primarily
at the advertisement for the record. Perhaps this is Shepard's definition of "due
warning"; his actions, however, fit the definition of ex post facto, and
seem to be a violation of due process, since SLATE was permanently dropped from on-campus
status without a hearing. If there had, in fact, been a hearing, Myerson would have
testified that he had neither seen nor approved the phrase "campus political
party" attached to his name on the telegram of April 17.
8). On June 13, 1961 the Burns
Report was released to the public. The headline in the Chronicle was "U. C.
Under Fire In State Senate's Subversive Study." In its article, the Chronicle
said that the Burns Report "made it clear that the Committee favors a clampdown on
the campus activities of students and teachers, closer control of the campus newspaper,
and a ban on campus talks by communists." Later in the article, the Chronicle
noted that "University officials announced Saturday that SLATE had been suspended for
`identifying itself as a political party' in violation of campus regulations. They made no
reference to the Senate Committee Report." In another article on the same day, titled
"Timing of Ban on SLATE Argued", the Chronicle reports:
University of California officials denied yesterday that a lengthy adverse report on
Slate by a State Senate Sub-committee had anything to do with their kicking the
controversial group off campus. The report by the Senate a Fact Finding Sub-committee on
Un-American Activities is being released to the public today, but it was given to the news
media--and to the university--last Thursday.
The article stated that the University
insists its decision to make SLATE off-campus was made on June 6 -- two days before it
received the Burns Report. The article went on to say that when Dean Shepard was asked
what would have happened to SLATE if its members had continued their political activities
but obeyed the order not to call themselves a political party, he declined to comment. The
article concludes by stating:
Indeed, the prevailing attitude of the University's officials seemed to be a hope
that any further furor over the organization famed for its ability to arouse furor, would
vanish with the end of the semester. (Emphasis added).
To what conclusion does this chain of events
lead? It seems to us that the evidence is too convincing to allow us to accept the
administration's interpretation of their own action. The technical grounds for SLATE's
removal from on-campus status are too weak, the manner in which they were applied too
arbitrary and too questionable, to allow us to conclude that the University was only
enforcing regulations and was acting solely as a neutral bureaucracy. The
"coincidental" timing of the statements by Burns and Mulford (March 22) and the
first letter sent to SLATE (March 30), the release of the Burns Report to the University
(June 8) and the change in SLATE's status (June 9) because of a violation in the past,
argue that the University's action against SLATE was the administration's response to
intensive political pressure exerted upon them. Even if the Administration's claim is true
-- i.e. that their decision to revoke SLATE's status was made on June 6 before they
received the Burns Report -- still the University was well aware that they were under
heavy attack by certain political groups because of student political activity on campus.
And the center of student political activity had been Slate. The statements by Burns and
Mulford, the protest by certain individuals and groups against Wilkinson's right to speak
on campus, the Committee/s films and statements, the Hoover Report, and the influence that
these documents had on people throughout the nation -- all these created an adverse image
of the University with which the administration could not be pleased, especially when it
sought government subsidies.
We cannot help but conclude, therefore, that
the "neutral" administration succumbed to off-campus (pro-HUAC) political
pressures, and now played an active role in repressing on-campus student political
Alice Huberman, alumna
Prickett, History, S.F. State