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This report was delivered by Joseph P. Lash, executive secretary of the 
American Student Union, to more than 400 delegates to the Union's second 
annual convention, held in Chicago in December, 1936. 


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112 East 19th Street 

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A Report to the Second Annual Convention of the 
American Student Union 

/"\NE year ago several hundred students met at Columbus, 
^ Ohio, to set up the American Student Union. That first con- 
vention was dominated by the belief that American students 
everywhere, in their common devotion to such ideals as economic 
security, peace and democracy, could set out together on the 
road toward achieving those objectives. Republicans, Democrats, 
liberal students, believed these aspirations compatible with capi- 
talism. They held that our common aims could be fulfilled by 
the capitalist state if student and public opinion were made artic- 
ulate and insistent. They supported the American Student Union 
as an instrument of expressing these views. Socialists and Com- 
munists, while asserting that capitalism could not ultimately give 
us security, peace and democracy, believed that some measure of 
these goals might be achieved if sufficient pressure were mobilized 
behind them. In addition, they recognized that the mass of stu- 
dents would not accept the socialist solution before they were 
convinced through inquiry and effort that capitalist society could 
not give them the essentials of a decent life. For these reasons 
they gave their support to the A.S.U. All of us could unite, 
despite political differences, on immediate steps; we would dis- 
cover more deep-seated truths in the course of our endeavors. 

Unity was the galvanizing word at Columbus. Hundreds of 
students travelled in the dead of winter to aid in the realization of 
that unity which was admittedly a pre-condition of effectiveness. 
Has the past year proven that hope an illusory one? Has the 
A.S.U. justified the efforts and sacrifices made for it? Can one 
answer in the negative when remembering the anti-war strike of 
500,000 students led by the Union, and the establishment of the 
United Student Peace Committee to which the strike was so great 
an impetus? Examine the hearings upon the American Youth 
Act and note the hundreds of students we brought to Washing- 
ton to make those hearings a success. Have the students of Amer- 
ica ever had so dynamic and colorful a voice as The Student Ad- 
vocate? Our paid-up membership is triple that of the now dis- 
solved National Student League and Student League for Industrial 
Democracy, and our active membership is far greater. So strong 


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lu\<- we become in New York — 5,000 A.S.U.'ers marching on 
M;i\ Day, election of student councils on A.S.U. programs in all 
ll." ■ ity colleges, a Board of High Education divided evenly upon 
tli<- 'juestion of recognizing the A.S.U. in the city colleges — that 
.. • liave provoked a special investigation by Senator McNaboe 
i ml scores of editorials by that ace of reactionaries, Hearst. The 
■i. mite workers in Vermont, the elevator boys in New York, 
I In- -teel workers in Pittsburgh and the marine workers on the 
'ii ■-! will testify to the cooperation and support our Student Union 


!i is -riven them. There is only one answer : The A.S.U. has sue- 
■ ■■i-il"sd! No liberal or radical will dare challenge the need for 
.i -Indent union. And the protests of the Right confirm us in this 
nil- iction. 

\\' are not here, however, for self-congratulation. Enormous 
\!M.-3 previously shut off from our sight by disunity have now 
.ipl- ared. An organization of 20,000 is a real achievement. But 
I'n <•■ are 750,000 college students in the United States the ma- 
\»i'.:y of whom should be aligned with us. There are 5,000,000 
hi -li school students, a territory which we have hardly begun to 
■■xi'lore. In the early and divided days of the student movement 
an "rganization fancied itself making great gains when a new 
i !i ;>ter was founded or when the "vast" number of ten or twenty 
ti ii-ferred allegiance from one group to another. The formation 
i.f I he Union has confonted us with the real magnitude of our 
I i-k. Now we can see all that has to be done if students are to 
1m- kept from being the shock troops of fascism as they were in 
(.'■i many and Italy. Now we perceive the scope of our task if 
I In- American educational system is to be transformed into that 
!■• 'Mess of true democracy to which it nominally professes 

'I he problem at Columbus was to lay the foundation for a mass 
■-lin'-int movement by unifying our own resources. The problem 
. t lliis convention is to blueprint a twelve-month plan for build- 
in j the A.S.U. into an organization of 50,000 students, enabling 
us to become the spokesman for the student population of the 
I n Ued States. Last year we built the dynamo. This coming year 
w«- must gear it to the hundreds of campuses needing its power. 

Our problem is twofold. One is of domestic housekeeping. The 
i.lliiT is of policy. I shall merely outline the first since it will 
In- ifealt with by others. It is that of building an efficient organiza- 
tii' apparatus, of financial responsibility — every member feel- 
imz .i personal duty to help meet the national budget; promotion 
nf literature sales, especially The Advocate; the efficient running 


of a chapter; getting the most out of district organization and the 
visits of field secretaries; improving the services of the National 
Office; the Chapter Guide; chapter assessments and membership; 
inner organizational fellowship. 

And secondly there is the question of what policy and the ways 
of execution of that policy. This is a separation of convenience. 
No policy can be executed without a healthy and functioning 
organism as its instrument. No organism can become healthy 
without a correct policy. 

At the outset I want to say that the basic task at this congress 
is not programmatic. In all its essentials our program has proven 
a correct one. Our problem is how to carry out our program and 
how to integrate its execution with the building of the A.S.U. 
Frankly, it would be regrettable if the emphasis'" of this conven- 
tion were on the matters of policy that occasioned debate even 
at Columbus. Differences on the question of peace, of political 
action, will and should be clarified at this congress, but no point 
of view is important, no matter how valid, if it remains private 
to ourselves. Our job here is to determine how we can win the 
majority of students to a program that is basically sound, how 
we can make that program significant and inspiring to the 
majority of American undergraduates. There are many mute, 
inglorious Miltons, possessing great emotions and insights but 
lacking the technical skill and imaginative craftsmanship to 
create great literature. Similarly there are many little Lincolns 
who are motivated by the proper idealism and social insight, 
but lack the ability to convert anyone else to their view of 

S u Ciety "j° Ur ^° b heTe is one of craftsmanship— how to rally 
thousands of students to our program. 

The Student and Economic Security 

I shall start with our campaigns for the achievement of eco- 
nomic security. To many of us has that section in our program 
meant merely passing a resolution on the inadequacy of the 
National Youth Administration and circulating a petition in sup- 
port of the American Youth Act? That type of action can be re- 
served tor the president of the National Student Federation We 
have more important work to do. Indeed, I should say that what 
we do in connection with the N.Y.A. is a lest of our organization 
as a real trade union on the campus. It should be said that even 
during the past year we did some work in organizing students 


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on this issue. At the hearings for the American Youth Act called 
by the American Youth Congress in Washington it was the A.b.U. 
that most widely mobilized its membership for the hearings. At 
several colleges, such as the Universities of North Carolina and 
Minnesota, we set about organizing unions of N.Y.A. student 
workers which negotiated with N.Y.A. administrators for increased 
allotments and for adapting jobs to applicants .interests. Uur 
New York district made a notable effort to obtain N.Y.A. jobs 
for summer school students. Two years ago, at Brooklyn College, 
the Faculty Committee on Student Affairs, after a two-year drive 
led by the A.S.U., gave students a voice in the administration of 
N Y A activities. A student advisory committee of five elected by 
the college's N.Y.A. workers has been established Finally, the 
vigilance of the A.S.U. has prevented utilization of the N.Y.A. 
funds to intimidate progressive students. .'■-•• . 

But how glowing is this record of accomplishment so long 
as tens of thousands of students are being denied N.Y.A. assistance 
despite their real need and qualification? How important are 
the one thousand organized into N.Y.A, unions compared to the 
160,000 receiving N.Y.A. benefits? Has our campaign for the 
American Youth Act been sustained and powerful? Aubrey 
Williams of the N.Y.A. has just announced through a student 
correspondent that N.Y.A. aid will be cut proportionately with 
the rest of the W.P.A. There are rumors that it will be com- 
pltely abandoned in June as one of the "luxury aspects of 
W.P.A. no longer necessary. N. Raymond Walters, President ot 
the University of Cincinnati, declares in the current issue of School 
and Society: "Forecasts as to future attendance (at college) are 
impossible because of the possibility of discontinuance of N.Y.A. 
support. . . ." Where are the N.Y.A. unions to challenge these 
cuts' Are we in a position to mobilize thousand of students in 
the face of these cuts for the Washington pilgrimage on behalf 
of the American Youth Act? I want to quote from an editorial, 
"The Diminishing N.Y.A.", from the Drake University newspaper 
on December 18. There is no A.S.U. at Drake: "Students who 
wish the N.Y.A. maintained must get out and work for its con- 
tinuance by putting pressure on Congress. Make Congress grant 
an appropriation that will in some way cover the desperate needs 
of many of the country's young people. Write letters to your 
Congressman. Send delegations to your Senators and Representa- 
tives. If staggering sums can be allocated to take care of the 
nation's munition men, cannot a few million dollars be appropri- 

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ated for the nation' youth who are anxious to gain a college 
education?" I wish there were editorials of this character in the 
newspapers of the schools where there are powerful A.S.U. chap- 
ters. In these months, the A.S.U. must make its foremost 
task the mobilization of student leaders, editorials, faculty sup- 
port and mass student support against the cutting of the N.Y.A. 
and integrate this campaign with pressure for the A.Y.A. 

Throughout the country there has swept an impression of 
prosperity. Our Tory class is turning its loss of prestige in the 
elections into a victory by pouring out bonuses in the millions. 
This is a prosperity shadowed by the presence of ten million 
unemployed, six million of whom are condemned to permanent 
unemployment because of technological advances. It is a prosper- 
ity reared on the wasteful structure of war preparations. These 
facts, plus the resistance of the Tories to all measures of social 
security and income equalization, provide the basis for another 
depression in a few years. Yet the glamor of tinsel, temporary 
prosperity has hit the campus. Students are deluding themselves 
into believing that the jazz twenties are returning. They want to 
convince themselves that the crisis which descended on the campus 
recently has passed. If they could belive this, they would then 
feel no responsibility for progressive social action. We reaffirm, 
however, that society as presently constituted cannot give us eco- 
nomic security. Prosperity is a myth so long as students are com- 
pelled to drop out of school because of the cutting of N.Y.A. 
It is a myth if students must be pauperized to stay in college. In 
the report by Dr. Walters cited above, he declares that the in- 
crease of 85,000 students in attendance at universities can be 
largely ascribed to N.Y.A. The ending of the N.Y.A. is the finale 
to the undergraduate careers of these 85,000. The A.S.U. states 
its firm intention to fight the cut in N.Y.A. We declare to Presi- 
dent Roosevelt that the mandate he was given in November dic- 
tated democratization of educational opportunity, the continuance 
and extension of youth assistance. We warn that the students of 
this country are determined to interpret that mandate for him in 
our mass pilgrimage to Washington in February. 

In this campaign a vital social principle is embodied. Our 
educational system has taught us to believe that government 
assistance is something to be ashamed of, that our demand for 
aid reflects an unwillingness to fight our way up from the bottom 
as Horatio Alger did. Speaking in opposition to the N.Y.A. 
before the Wisconsin College presidents and deans, President-elect 


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Barrows of Lawrence College declared that the N.Y.A. may have 
started "an educational dole which will lead youth to regard 
college education as something the government owes him, instead 
of, as we thought, a rare luxury." Society is pampering us, it is 
said The same cries were levelled against the establishment ol 
free public education in the early nineteenth century Qur 
answer must be the same as that of the trade unionists who were 
then in the forefront of the battle for public education. Society 
has a responsibility to its young people to see that the formative 
period of our lives is not twisted by poverty, insecurity, ignorance. 
A truly democratic society would give its young people a lull 
education, in healthv and inspiring surroundings. These young 
people would later repay that society by the intelligence and 
sanity that they would bring to the solution of social problems, 
by the fulness and happiness of their lives. The N-Y.A. does 
not represent charity. It expressed a responsibility of American 
society which will not be genuinely fulfilled until Congress passes 
the American Youth Act. 

The Challenge of Co-Operatives 

What else does "economic security" mean to students? During 
the past year a new movement has set in on the campus— coopera- 
tives. None of us fully recognized its importance. If the A.S.U., 
on local campuses, has established cooperatives, that is because 
a volunteer worker in the National Office, Charles Saphirstem, 
was so insistent that we could not ignore the cooperative move- 
ment. At the present time the A.S.U. has itself established some 
ten cooperative ventures and participated in the establishment 
of some twenty others. They include book stores, eating houses, 
dorms and laundries. They are a concrete service to the student 
body. At Temple the establishment of a cooperative book 
store increased the membership of the chapter 20 in two weeks. 
The vitality of our Dartmouth chapter is due in large measure 
to the cooperative eating house it set up. The student cooperative 
movement has become important enough to warrant securing a 
staff person to cover that field. A.S.U. cooperatives have a 
great value in increasing organizational loyalty and fellowship, 
in making the A.S.U. more than a discussion group. This is not 
to say that we want to turn ourselves into fraternities set apart 
from the campus — we must be on guard against such isolation — 
but we do want to enrich the internal life of the A.S.U. 




The concrete service we render through cooperatives to students 
bring me to other local services that chapters can render to 
cheapen the costs of college education and thus establish us as 
a genuine union. Our Berkeley chapter has undertaken a cam- 
paign to lower student activity fees. At the Univesrity of Wis- 
consin the inadequacy of firetrap housing and the costliness of 
student rents has been the object of a chapter campaign. In 
many places restaurant prices are exorbitant. Cooperatives or 
direct pressure upon the administration have achieved lower 
prices. How many of us have undertaken a survey of the treat- 
ment of student workers on the campus as our University of 
Oregon chapter has done preliminary to a campaign for a mini- 
mum wage for student workers? At Howard University a spon- 
taneous strike took place because the football team was not 
getting decent meals. Why did not the A.S.U. lead this strike? 
lhat is what we mean by imaginative interpretation of our pro- 
gram on economic security. We are a fellowship of service to 
the student body and no issue is too homely or unimportant for 
us to undertake. Only a person without social vision could fail 
to see the relationship of these little matters to the larger issues 
ot insecurity and poverty afflicting contemporary society. 

The Ferntent Among Negro Students 

To the problem of security is linked the whole problem of the 
extension of educational facilities. How closely these are tied 
together is apparent in the situation of Negro vouth. Negro stu- 
dents are afflicted not only by the most barbarous of livin- con- 
ditions m school and college. The problem is an enormou! one. 
ine present facilities for Negro education are completely inade- 
quate. Hundreds of thousands of Negroes do not attend school 
because of lack of facilities. In Kansas only two dollars is 
allotted for the education of the Negro youth to every eleven 
dollars of education of the whites. Only 25 of every 100 Ne«ro 

C the^ ^ "S 001 £ the S T h 3re aHe t0 -ntinue further 
than the six h grade. The condition this inspires is eloquently 

Norl C^ ^ ™^ *>**«* Hearing of a strike' atTe 
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, a Ne R ro 

Z £a T •° Uthern field Becietai y visited tWs schoo 1. He de 

be Itd^h 10 ; Vf™ " The f0 ° d haS become -tea - 

exne'lled A ^ \ V \ oUsst meetin S' and was immediately 

expelled, whereupon the whole student body struck, demanding 

his reinstatement, better food, a student government, medical care 
for students (the latter had been accustomed to waiting in their 
rooms when ill for four or five days wihout any medical aid) 
and a number of other issues. The strike lasted about five days, 
hardly any of the 771 students breaking it. Police were on the 
campus all the time. Food was sent the students by a sympa- 
thetic Negro community. A committee was sent to the governor. 
There were good stories in the papers. However, vague promises 
and empty threats induced the students to go back before anything 
definite was won. The students are ready to strike again if their 
leaders aren't reinstated and the food isn't improved." Our or- 
ganizer promised the students all the assistance we could provide. 
They urged him to stay and address a meeting to which the whole 
school turned out, but the president ordered the meeting dis- 
persed and prevented our representative from meeting. 

So great is the feeling among Negro students on this lack of 
educational facilities that the A.S.U. program when presented 
in terms of these needs evokes a willingness to affiliate student 
bodies en masse to the A.S.U. Our slight . experience this past 
year in working in the South has convinced us that this question of 
equal and adequate educational facilities is of more immediate 
importance than the campaign against segregation. 

There is a desperate need for organizational work, as this letter 
shows, in the Negro schools. We need a Field Secretary whose 
responsibility will be only to the Negro colleges. And can we 
even speak of building a strong movement among Negro students 
when we lack any movement whatsoever in the South? I, as 
might be expected of a Northerner, have frequently attributed 
our failure to make headway in the South to the existence of 
powerful reactionary traditions among Southern students. I am 
convinced otherwise now. A liberal tradition stemming from 
Jefferson is as powerful in the Southern universities as elsewhere. 
There are vast opportunities for building the A.S.U. in the South. 
Texas is even now planning a state convention of A.S.U. chapters. 
Perhaps we can undertake a similar regional convention in other 
Southern states. 

I want to close this section of my report with a discussion of 
our campaign for free city colleges. Philadelphia has long felt 
the need for such a college. For many months now the Phila- 
delphia district of the A.S.U. has been discussing a campaign 
for a free city college. Indeed I have seen, I believe, a bill for 
the establishment of such a college drafted by lawyers for the 


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Philadelphia A.S.U.? What has happened to this campaign? 
I am afraid it has remained in the slogan stage. Everybody 
agrees there should be a free city college. It is vaguely rumored 
that the A.S.U. could get lots of community support for such a 
campaign. We are told that this campaign will establish the 
prestige of the A.S.U. in Philadelphia. I agree. Where is the 
campaign? I concentrate on Philadelphia members not because 
they are particularly at fault in this matter, but because that is 
characteristic of what happens to A.S.U. campaigns. I empha- 
size the free city college campaign because it is a valuable idea 
and could cuild the A.S.U. in dramatic fashion. Why was there 
no campaign? Because no one would take the responsibility for 
its execution. Because the district did not sit down and assign 
responsibility, then every week review precisely and carefully 
what had been done and discover whether all the assignments had 
been carried out. Campaigns do not grow spontaneously. If 
they did, we would not have to have an A.S.U. People must do 
the dirty work. Plans must be mapped out, jobs assigned, work 
reviewed. It is so easy to be careless in collective, voluntary 
work such as ours that every campaign must have a time schedule. 
There must be no individualism, for if the individual doesn't 
carry out his work, it remains undone, unless it is checked by 
committees. I speak frankly because I am criticizing myself. 
I didn't keep after Philadelphia on this matter. I did not give 
them the advice they needed. And the staff did not check up 
on me. r 

The aspirations I have spoken of in this section of the report 
are shared by most of the students of the United States. Indeed 
they have universal Sanction because of our American traditions 
of equahtarianism. Will these aspirations become realities? 
Not so long as our technique is one of shouting slogans, passing 
resolutions and avoiding the. detailed work that is imperative 

The Student and Democracy 

T WILL now turn to another group of problems raised by our 
■*■ program and examine our success in meeting them. Political 
democracy is one of the deepest traditions in American society. 
It impregnates our whole public life. Its symbols dominate the 
Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the speeches of 
politicians, the textbooks in civics. Some would say that the 
widespread use of this word, because of the repression and in- 


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equality that is, nevertheless, persuasive in American life, renders 
the word meaningless. Yet the fact that repression and injustice 
must be cloaked in the forms of equality and democracy by the 
Tories in order to perpetuate their privileges should demonstrate 
the hold that these values have upon the masses of American 
people. Our campaigns for the democratization of the university, 
for academic freedom, for the elimination of fascist ideologies 
and groups among American students have a powerful support 
in the textbooks of the very universities and of the very system 
that practice repression and discrimination. If the A.S.U. were 
to show itself capable of organizing student defense of educational 
democracy, it would undoubtedly gain widespread prestige and 
support in the student body. It would justify the name of union. 

During the past year there were three notorious violations of 
academic freedom. Because of his leadership of a demonstration 
against sending a Columbia delegate to Heidelberg, and more 
generally because of his aggressive leadership of the A.S.U. at 
Columbia, Robert Burke was expelled. You are all familiar with 
the case through the splendid pamphlet that we published. You 
may have read Dr. Butler's annual statement a week ago in which 
he declared that Columbia sent a delegate to Heidelberg as a 
protest against its debasement under fascism! The A.S.U. failed 
to reinstate Burke. Our failure partly lay in the determination 
of the Columbia authorities to make an example of Burke^ But 
the failure also lay in the shortcomings of our Columbia chapter. 
Who can say that the Burke case was less clear-cut than the Reed 
Harris case in 1932 in which Harris was reinstated after a student 
strike? Who can say that there was not widespread undergradu- 
ate sympathy for Burke, a sympathy which never once received 
dramatic expression in the case? Why was the climax of the 
campaign a strike of only 800 students, then period? This was 
the first instance of outfight repression against the A.S.U. A 
victory for us would have insured the protection of our members 
everywhere. And no union deserves the name which cannot 
protect its members. I am aware of the forces that the Columbia 
Union encountered in its campaign — threats, intimidation, brow- 
beating by the administration on an unparalleled scale. 

In an intensified way, we saw exemplified at Columbia during 
the course of this the whole apparatus of repression and 
intimidation that is maintained by the status quo. Here we saw 
revealed all the little methods that are employed throughout the 
educational system to silence such movements as the A.S.U. Fear 



of loss of job, of loss of diploma, of loss of honors keep literally 
thousands who sympathize with us from coming into the A.S.U. 
We know how shortsighted is the view of the fellow who says, 
"I'm going to feather my own nest, and so I will stay out of die 
A.S.U." Unemployment is the lot of his generation, shell holes 
and concentration camps. Yet this was the philosophy of our 
chapter in the Columbia case. It surrendered its convictions 
and the promise of a better life to the immediate pressures of 
the status quo. So impressed were our members by the administra- 
tion's threat to punish those who supported Burke, that they 
magnified and articulated the rumors of repression which were 
current on the campus. Like our chapter at U.C.L.A. in a smaller 
crisis, the chapter almost talked itself underground. 

If the chapter had realized the importance of the Burke case; 
if it had fought the administration boldly on this issue, it would 
have won. The only way to meet the bogey-man of fear is to 
challenge it in the open That is what was done at the City Colleges 
in New York. Yes, there were expulsions and editors were fired 
and students were blacklisted but today the A.S.U. is predominant 
in the student councils, runs the newspapers, and Pres. Robinson, 
the instigator of this reign of suppression, is on his way out. 
Academic freedom is safe in Hunter College, Brooklyn, and 
C.C.N. Y. Liberal teachers are protected. The ideas of progress 
have free and wide circulation because of the courageous stand of 
former classes at these colleges. 

The traditions of American life are on our side. The instincts 
of the American people are with us. If we challenge the forces of 
suppression, we will win. 

The second case I should like to deal with concerns Washington 
University in St. Louis. Three members of the American Student 
Union, before the fall term began, wrote a letter to entering 
r reshmen urging them not to enroll in the R.O.T.C. For sending 
this letter, two lost their graduate fellowships. The adminstration 
used the excuse that the signers of the letter had not consuled the 
A.S.U. chapter before sending it out. In other words, the adminis- 
tration was protecting our interests! This case received a good 
deal of publicity, especially in the liberal Post-Dispatch. Again 
student sentiment and public opinion were on our side. And again 
we did^not vindicate ourselves by compelling the return of the 
fellowships Here the basic reason seemed to be lack of confidence 
• it I"! tt r • J me ? lbers m the P<>wer of student pressure and 
in the A.S.U. Indeed, so "afraid" of the A.S.U. were our mem- 







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bers that they tried to keep the National Office even from hearing 
about the case for fear we would take action without consulting 
them. In this connection I want to say plainly that the National 
Office does not go over the heads of the chapter and does not 
take action in a local situation without consulting the chapter. 
We know the wdiespread "red herring" attack upon local A.S.U.'s 
as being dominated by national offices who are "irresponsible 
trouble-makers." I want to quote our constitution on this point: 
Article III, Section 2, states "that individual members of the 
Union may abstain from any action undertaken by it. Chapters 
have local autonomy in determining what activities they will 
carry out." 

Having said this, it should be added that your national officers, 
who are elected by you, expect you to have a certain confidence 
in their maturity and integrity, a confidence, which is denied when 
information is kept from us for fear we may throw a bomb into 
the situation. But there is a more basic point involved in this 
Washington University case. It is a lack of confidence in demo- 
cracy: a fear that student opinion forcefully expressed will not 
accomplish as much as "diplomatic negotiations." There is im- 
plied an acceptance of the stereotype of the A.S.U. that has been 
created by Hearst — a small, isolated group of "noisy radicals" 
incapable of effective action. Thus we had a situation in St. 
Louis where the community was aroused over the case, and the 
student body, because of the A.S.U. remained inactive. Can we 
then go to that student body and say we are in the forefront of 
the struggle for democratic rights on the campus, when in a 
specific issue we do a fadeout? 

The Case of Jerome Davis 

The other oustanding denial of academic freedom the past 
year was the announcement that Jerome - Davis, Professor at 
Yale Divinity School, would not be re-employed. I know that the 
conservative and especially Republican press believes the issue of 
Glenn Frank to be the outstanding denial of academic freedom. 
Why isn't this press concerned with the issue of Jerome Davis? 
We haven't seen front page stories given to protests on the Davis 
case, but every rumor of student protest in the Frank case is a 
pretext for headlines. The A.S.U. believes there is a great mass 
of evidence to confirm the statement of the chairman of the 
Board of Regents that President Frank has not proven himself 
a capable administrator and executive. We agree, however, that 


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President Frank should be given a public hearing and we com- 
mend the liberalism of the Wisconsin Regents, unlike the Yale 
Corporation, in holding such open hearings. The situation at 
Wisconsin has raised the whole problem of university control. 
The A.S.U. has written as follows to Commissioner Studebaker of 
the U. S. Office of Education: 

January 11, 1937. 
Commissioner John Studebaker 
United States Office of Education 
Washington, D. C. 
My dear Dr. Studebaker: 

The American Student Union is greatly concerned over the 
issues raised by the action of the University of Wisconsin regents 
on Glenn Frank. We believe it brings to the foreground the prob- 
lem of what relationship higher education shall have to the state. 

In the last analysis, the university is supposed to serve the 
people who have created and supported it. The people of a 
state speak through the executive officers and the legislators whom 
they elect; yet at the same time one would not want higher edu- 
cation to be subject to the whims and waves of popular feeling. 
Other principles over which we are concerned are the right of 
students and faculty to have some voice in the control of their 

We are not attempting to prejudice these issues. We do believe 
that the Frank case has provided a setting for their discussion and 
shown the necessity of such a discussion. It is probable that 
in the next three years, progressive administrations will be elected 
in many states. This will create the problem of the relationship 
of these administrations to university regents and administrations 
that do not reflect the growing spirit of progressivism. Student 
bodies and faculties are becoming organized and articulate. They 
will demand more control over the university. 

We feel that your office is in the best position to call a confer, 
ence of regents, state administrators, educational associations, 
student associations, and teachers' organizations to consider the 
matters that we have barely delineated. Such a conference could 
begin an analysis of these problems. Is it within the province of 
the Office of Education to call together such a meeting and would 
it be able to? 

Sincerely yours, 

Joseph P. Lash 

National Secretary 

S&^ia&fejafe ■ -■«?-/.:■ , >: 

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To return to Yale — Jerome Davis' utterances on capitalism and 
his cooperation with trade unions had displeased the Yale Cor- 
poration. Therefore, his contract was not renewed. The last word 
has not yet been spoken on this matter. The A.S.U. at Yale 
Divinity School has mobilized the entire student body behind 
Professor Davis. The faculty has come to his assistance. Public 
opinion, especially labor, has come out in his support. A protest 
demonstration of New England colleges was organized by the 
A.S.U. at which 14 colleges were present. The Yale Corporation 
is powerful — so powerful that the New Haven newspapers and 
wire services carry no publicity on the support for Jerome Davis. 
And Professor Davis may not have his contract renewed. But in 
this case the Yale Corporation knows it has had a good fight 
and will step gingerly next time. 

The Davis case has served again to illustrate the point as in 
the Sehappes case at C.C.N. Y. that a strong A.S.U. protects the 
rights of teachers as well as students. Conversely a strong teach- 
er's union aids in the creation of a strong student movement. We 
can be proud of the close cooperation and friendship that exists 
between the A.S.U. and the American Federation of Teachers. 

These three outstanding cases of academic repression emphasize 
the necessity for some democratic instrument of discipline within 
the universities such as student-faculty courts or discipline com- 
mittees, which being democratic will be more responsive to 
students and faculty than to trustees and administrators. These 
student-faculty courts should be elected by students and instruc- 
tors as described in the December issue of The Student Advocate. 
Some of you read the editorial. You said to yourselves, "a good 
idea" and then forgot about it. Now in a way I don't blame you. 
A chapter cannot carry on too many campaigns at one time, 
especially if it has only ten members. Yet a well-planned cam- 
paign for student-faculty courts would enlist the interest of new 
people and help to build the A.S.U. That is the important point 
to remember — activity brings membership. 

The issue of student-faculty courts raises the whole question of 
Student self-government. Democratization of the university finds 
its best focus in the failure of most student councils to serve as 
the instruments of that democratization. All of us are aware that 
the majority of student councils are dominated by fraternity 
cliques and that elections are settled by interfraternity negotiation. 
They certainly are not settled by the stand taken on issues by 
various candidates. We are aware that student councils are 


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extremely responsive to administrative pressure and that the pros- 
pect of a job with the university or through an alumnus has ren- 
dered the councils useless in many places on the vital issues 
affecting us. Nationally this is reflected in the N.S.F.A.V ten- 
dency to play politics with Washington and the difficulty of elect- 
ing N.S.F.A. presidents on their records of student service. 

If students councils actually reflected the interests of the student 
body, they would take up the cudgels for student-faculty courts. 
They would fight for retention of the N.Y.A. We know they 
don't. As a result in many colleges the A.S.U. has put up its own 
slate in student body elections on an A.S.U. platform. There is 
an A.S.U. bloc at the N.S.F.A. convention that is taking place at 
this very moment. It is not enough, however, to put up a slate 
once a year and then forget it the rest of the year. I have men- 
tioned two issues which, properly raised, will win widespread 
support in the student body— N.Y.A. and student-faculty courts. 
We must urge our most talented members to take the leadership 
in the campaign for student aid and student democracy. Have 
them appear before your student council to seek action on these 
campaigns. When the student body elections occur, these persons, 
our candidates, will be known to the student body, will be identi- 
fied with the effort to improve their lot, and will stand a much 
better chance of victory. Our efforts in students' councils on a 
local scale and in the N.S.F.A. nationally is to win them to forth- 
right support for the Youth Act, the strike against war and aca- 
demic freedom. 

There are many other aspects to the question of democracy 
within the university, and civil liberties in general as they affect 
students. _We still have. with us the problem of equality of the 
sexes and invidious regulations concerning women students. And 
in many colleges and universities social life is constrained and 
cramped because of university regulations which apply to both 
men and women students, these again are issues which the 
A.b.U. should champion and make its own. 

Many universities are changing presidents and chancellors. 
Usually the faculty and student body— the groups most vitally 
attected by these changes— have little or no voice in the choice 
ot a new president. The matter rests in the hands of Boards of 
trustees whose composition graphically reflects hi? business 
What better place or opportunity to challenge the whole char- 
acter ot American education, than to nominate student choice* 
when a new college president is being selected! Syracuse ha« 





just undertaken such a campaign. First it raised the general issue 
of whether students shall have a voice in the selection of a new 
chancellor. Now it is going ahead, not just to nominate its own 
choice, hut to involve the whole campus in nominations by a 
straw vote. 

The A.S.U. and Administrators 

Here it is perhaps appropriate to mention a change in attitude 
that college adminstrations have developed toward the student 
movement. I do not think the wish is father to the thought 
when I say that some administrations have come to look upon the 
A.S.U. as an ally. This is not strange when we acknowledge the 
powerful traditions of liberalism that animate the American cam- 
pus. It is true that in the long run college administration are the 
spokesmen of trustees. We can sometimes hope for a measure 
of liberalism commensurate with the stature of the individual men 
and the liberalism of the community in which the university is 
established. Our attitude must not be one of "we are the oppo- 
nents of the administration," in the sense that trade unions are 
opposed to employers. Let us say: we support college deans and 
presidents in their efforts ot prevent the patrioteers from turning 
our universities into breeding grounds of fascism. Let us take 
for granted such administrative liberalism. In our approach 
to the administration let us state that its own professed liberalism 
dictates support of the student strike, of A.Y.A., of student-faculty 
courts. Certainly we must be basically independent of the admini- 
stration, rembering that it is subject to pressure from trustees 
and the reactionary forces in the community in a way that we are 
not. I have been told, however, that especially in the South, 
college administrators welcome the A.S.U. as an awakening force 
in the campus which gives student opinion and thought as tre- 
mendous stimulus. 

Democracy in the university brings up another problem which 
is of immediate interest to us. That is the right of student organ- 
izations such as ours to exist on campus. The ideal situation in 
this respect exists at Cornell where any student group which de- 
clares its purpose and files its officers with the administration can 
utilize the university facilities for meetings. This is the system 
that liberal members of the New York Board of Higher Education 
are attempting to have adopted in the city colleges and which lost 
by only one vote at the last meeting. Many of our chapters still 
have not received recognition from their universities and their 


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work is considerably hampered. This situation prevails at Syra- 
cuse and Boston, among others. What a commentary upon those 
universities is this blunt denial of academic freedom! What con- 
fidence can these universities avow in the ideas they are trying 
to inculcate when they fear the vitality of the A.S.U. program? 
These are facts which, when brought out wish sufficient drama, 
will compel any administration to grant us recognition. An issue 
such as recognition of the A.S.U. involves the broad princi- 
ples of democracy and enlightenment which command the allegi- 
ance of so many people in this country that, if our campaign 
is properly organized, no administration can remain adamant. 
One fact is clear — without recognition, execution of the A.S.U. 
program in a manner to win the allegiance of large numbers of 
students is a bleak undertaking. One does not have to speculate 
about this. Such has been the case at Los Angeles Jr. College, 
U.C.L.A., Syracuse. Such is the case in the high schools. 

During the past year two outstanding cases of censorship of 
student newspapers occurred, involving the University of Texas 
and Lafayette. In both instances almost unanimous student- 
faculty condemnation was voiced. Scores of editorials in other col- 
lege journals attacked the censorship. Public opinion was articu- 
late upon the side of an uncensored undergraduate press. Out of 
the campaign against censorship at the University of Texas devel- 
oped not merely an A-S.U. chapter at the university, but a state 
organization with a state organizer, four established chapters and 
contacts in several other colleges. Our members knew how to 
build on this issue in Texas and to convert it into a victory for 
the student movement. Iknow of places where the clamping down 
of censorship would have been met with a fatalistic shrug from 
our membership, as if to say "here is an additional burden upon 
the progressive movement." 

The most disgraceful situation in our colleges and universities 
is the discrimination that is practiced against Negro students. 
Examine a college near here, Northwestern. The situation is not 
unique there. But a student there by the name of William Bell 
had the courage publicly to challenge the system. Bell broke 
the unwritten law that no. Negro shall be allowed to stay at a 
university dormitory. He was the first Negro to use the university 
swimming pool. He fought for and won the right to sit on the 
main floor of Evanston theatres. Now he is suing Northwestern 
for $5,000 damages because it evicted him from the campus beach 
last summer. The A.S.U. will suport his suit and has alreadv 


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undertaken a campus-wide campaign against Negro discrimination 
which won widespread support. Who is not aware of a similar 
situation in his own school? In the face of these circumstances, 
I do not know why our program speaks of a "Southern" system 
of oppression. Other A.S.U. chapters made some headway toward 
establishing racial equality in the schools. At the University of 
Illinois our chapter launched a co-operative eating house when 
Negro students were barred from all campus eating places. In the 
South our chapters have made steps in the direction of inter- 
racial cooperation. 

Some of our members in the South have raised a programmatic 
problem which is worthy of discussion at this congress. They 
state that it is doubly difficult to carry on A.S.U. work in the South 
if the major emphasis at the present time is opposition to segre- 
gation. While recognizing the correctness of this principle, they 
feel that the present focus should be the fight against exploitation 
and oppression of the Negro people; i.e. for equality in educa- 
tional appropriations. As a northener who has, of necessity, a 
somewhat intellectualized approach to this problem, I am diffi- 
dent about expressing my personal opinion, and I trust that we 
will hear discussion from our members who are working in 
southern schools. One can say quite categorically that it is 
meaningless to speak of ending Negro oppression without simul- 
taneously pressing for complete equality. Racial division is one 
of the methods of continuing, not only the exploitation of the 
Negro student and worker, but of the white. Nor can we expect 
to win the support of Negro students if we do not speak out clearly 
and unequivocally our conviction and belief in the complete 
equality of races. It is one thing, however, to claim allegiance 
to complete racial equality and another to help in its achievement. 
I believe that an essential bridge toward ending segregation in 
the South, is the building of a sense of self-confidence among 
Negro students, is the creation of a kinship between Negro and 
white students by the building of the student movement. This 
may mean in many cases that we will have to build A.S.U. chap- 
ters in the South as a step toward ending segregation. At the 
present momsnt I think that the most effective manner of building 
a student movement in the Negro schools is by emphasis on 
the type of issue that I discussed in the earlier section of my report 
— freedom of social life, equal educational opportunities. In the 
white schools we cannot make a condition of entrance into the 
A.S.U. and the continuance of the chapter an immediate campaign 




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on the question of segregation. If the issue arises we must meet 
it honestly and boldly in the terms of the A.S.U. program, i.e., 
complete racial equality, but segregation cannot be the paramount 
issue around which we build the A.S.U. in the South. 

"Shirts" on the Campus 

No discussion of the student and democracy would be complete 
without mentioning some more spectacular efforts to suppress 
liberty in the educational sphere. I refer to outright fascist 
groups in the universities, to gag legislation, and to red-baiting 
investigations. The "Student Americaneers" who proudly 
launched their organization by stealing our credentials at our 
Columbus meeting have not found any widespread support among 
students. Although they have been the recipients of some finan- 
cial assistance, they have failed to expand. They are in touch with 
a small group at the University of Minnesota, but so far our 
vigilance has prevented them from making any real headway. 
At Columbia the "Blue Shirts" netted only a newspaper story, then 
fading out with the publicity. At Johns Hopkins, despite Duce's 
claims to the continued existence of an organization containing 
R.O.T.C. officers and others, the group has been forced into such 
secret activity that no one can find it. The American Liberty 
League campus groups, which might have been more potent cen- 
ters of fascism, have been destroyed by the Roosevelt landslide. 
The Anti-Reds belonging to the University of Chicago's Civic 
League do not seem to have been successful, since our chapter in 
Chicago is the largest in the country. Another source of fascist 
infection, the advanced R.O.T.C. still finds it expedient publicly 
to deny and excoriate fascist intentions. Secretly, however, in 
common with other patrioteering organizations it carries on an 
intensive campaign against, the A.S.U. When we began to set 
up a chapter in San Diego high school the local P.T.A. received 
a mimeographed letter from the local Reserve Officers' Associa- 
tion warning it against the "subversive" and Moscow-inspired 
activities of the A.S.U. All this testifies to two things: one, the 
success of the A.S.U. in smashing campus fascism hard when it 
shows its head; two, reaction still does not have to resort to the 
uglier tactics of fascism. We must, however, remain alert to the 
dangers of a fascist movement in the schools, remembering the 
fine collection of racial and snobbish prejudices that are bred in 
the ordinary undergraduate by some of the aspects of the fraternity 
svstem, by our press and educational system. 


7'*'; ^H^ra*?^*r'^ v * 

Two legislative investigations of radical activity in the colleges 
during the past year ended as boomerangs to those who initiated 
them. In Texas, the investigation of the state university dis- 
credited the red-baiters, while in New York the McNaboe investi- 
gation appears destined to end without holding a single session be- 
cause of the intense opposition it met, an opposition organized 
chiefly by the A.S.U. and the Teachers Union. Eight of the nine 
chief sponsors of the teachers loyalty oath in Massachusetts were 
defeated by the action of student groups and trade unions in the 
recent elections. The Nunan loyalty oath in Albany legislature 
failed of passage for the second year, because of the prompt action 
of our student groups. Nevertheless, more than a score of teach- 
ers oath bills remain on the legislative books. 

These are the more overt forms of curtailing democracy and 
freedom in our educational system. They should represent dan- 
ger signals of the path American democracy and education can 
traverse if we do not build our movement quickly and powerfully. 
It is important, however, not to allow these more dramatic dis- 
plays of reaction to blind us to the continuous repression and 
intimidation which exists in our school system because, control- 
led by bankers and coropration executives, it must defend and 
uphold the status quo. May I close this section on democracy in 
the schools by pointing out that it is a comparatively simple mat- 
ter to recognize an oath bill as being contrary to the ideals of 
American life. It is far more difficult to see the seeds of fas- 
cism in the very failure and absence of honest discussion by our 
instructors and schools, of the contemporary world, of the drive 
toward war, of the existence of poverty. 

We must constantly bear in mind the simple truth that higher 
education today is in the hands of an interlocking directorate of 
trustees who represent that very oligarchy of high finance, indus- 
try and politics which we assail in our program. Because these 
interests dominate our educational system a Jerome Davis is 
fired, a Bob Burke is expelled, our chapters are denied recogni- 
tion American education cannot educate its youth for democracy 
Perhaps the ultimate solution for all of us may be the one that 
has been posed by Harold Lunger of Yale Divinity School: 

"If corporations and boards of directors of secular universities are 
going to continue to exercise veto power over the considered pol- 
icies and actions of their related divinity schools, then the time 
will soon come— perhaps it is now here— for theological faculties 
and student bodies to secede from those universities. This may 




mean the sacrificing of comfortable buildings and adequate libra- 
ries; it may mean that faculty members and students alike will 
have to divide their time between study and manual labor. But 
at any rate our souls would then be our own. . . ." 

The Fight for Peace 

1NOW come lo a point which has been enthroned in the very 
forefront of the A.S.U. program — namely the fight against war. 
If my comments are brief, it is not because of lack of interest or 
through underestimation of its importance. Indeed in the present 
world situation it is of cardinal importance. Your chairman has 
already discussed it and there will be even fuller review later on. 
I do not want to say, however, that some clear line must be set 
down at this convention. The coming anti-war strike, involving one 
million students, will speak with no single voice and thus lose 
much of its effectiveness, if we ourselves cannot emerge from 
this convention with an unequivocal and consistent position. I do 
not view the anti-war movement as an educational forum or an 
arena in which rival concepts struggle for mastery. Our strike 
and anti-war movement are practical instruments for combatting 
war preparations and a declaration of war. They are educational 
instruments only in a parallel sense. Basically they are instru- 
ments of political pressure; To retain their effectiveness they must 
be capable of rallying thousands of students in a united fashion. 

A movement such as ours must be able to adjust itself promptly 
to the varied and unforeseen ways in which general principles 
assert themselves in concrete life. For many years we have de- 
cleared that fascism means war. During the summer a fascist 
insurrection broke out in Spain, an insurrection backed by Ger- 
many and Italy. What situation did this precipitate within the 
A.S.U. ? I want to commend those chapters which recognized the 
deep sympathy that American demoracy should have for Spanish 
democracy, utilizing the issue to inspire their membership and 
wide groups of students into support of Spain. Cornell, Smith, 
Bennington and some of our New York City chapters are especi- 
ally to be commended in this respect. 

I think, however, we can justly criticize ourselves for taking 
for granted that the American campus would sympathize with the 
loyalist cause. We were confident that the A.S.U. would be of 
one mind on this issue. Because everything we abominate is 
represented by Franco and his cohorts, because every ideal to 
which we are passionately committed is represented by the loyal- 


, * 


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ist cause we have been impatient with those whom the Spanish 
struggle has confused, or whose idealism has been contradicted 
by the methods of struggle in Spain. Many absolute pacifists 
have been shocked because our Union has taken sides in a situa- 
tion in which both groups were employing force. This raises an 
extremely ethical problem. 

. Can , the / alues ° f love ' P eace and to lerance ever be advanced 
through the means of force? Have not the last five years given 
us a brutal and_ horrible answer to that question in Germany' 
What agonies might mankind have been spared, what agonies of 
war and suppression are still to come, because the forces of 
democracy and idealism in Germany did not resist with all the 
means at their command the illegal actions of the fascists? The 
triumph of fascism in Germany has brought us to the brink of 
world war. Can anyone say that the ethical values, so nobly 
and courageously cherished bv the pacifist, are enhanced by the 
hkehhooc! of world war? What ideal that men of good will 
cherish has not been desecrated under Hitler and Mussolini? Ye« 
the people of Spain who today are fighting against fascism will 
pay embly because they have been compelled to resort to armed 
resistance. They will pay not merely in the obvious sense of 
destruction of lives property, and art, but in the sense of religion 
in terms of distorted characters and embittered souls. The victory 
ot franco, however, would condemn, not merely this generation 
to such destruction and embitterment, but also their children and 
their children's children. The victory of fascism in Spain would 
prolong and extend the conditions which bring war closer to the 
whole world 1 say that the absolute pacifist, whose highest 
principle is love and the dignity of the human personality, mu 
get down on his knees before the Spanish people who are sacri- 
ficing everything to save that principle from oblivion. 

"Neutrality It Is Not!" 

Does the Oxford Pledge commit the A.S.U. to absolute pacifism 
and therefore to silence on the crisis in Spain? I believe it ha* 
always been understood that the element which made the Pledge^ 
a united front" slogan of pacifists and others who are against 
war, was the fact that it represented a pledge taken in the face of 

LXted SILT " " ^ Unite / Stat69 ' na ™ [ y> one ^ -hich 
the United States was preparing for an imperialist war. It is our 

dramatic answer to the war preparations of the U. S. government 

Pacifists, being opposed to all wars, would natur a lly S pp 0se the 


^~!&>*fr~r®°$<- r>!g -e^js',,-^^*^ 


war for which our government is preparing, with its billion 
dollar armaments budget, its M-Day plans, its Pacific bases. The 
Oxford Pledge is not for the A.S.U., although it may be for 
pacifists, an ethical absolute. 

Another source of confusion has arisen out of the deep desire 
for neutrality on the part of American students. Keep America 
out of war is their prayer, and we can certainly echo it. And yet 
those who raise the cry of neutrality as an excuse for not aiding 
Spain, are confusing the issue. Neutrality as a national policy 
means the prevention of American involvement in war because of 
financial and commercial stakes in that war — stakes which are 
magnified by the heavy sale of war materials. But that is not 
what we must give to Spain. We have been asked for medical 
fcupplies, for food, for understanding and sympathy. We have 
been asked to prevent American recognition of the Franco junta. 
Such actions, some declare, are an opening wedge to those com- 
mitments which will involve us in a European war. But those 
who want to avoid all risk and peril in the present era will find 
such security only in the grave. To be alive is to be in danger. 
What is our alternative? Neutrality — complete and absolute? 
Such a policy plays into the hands of the fascists, for Germany 
and Italy observe no such neutrality. The victory of fascism in 
Spain increases the danger of world war, a war which would con- 
tain far greater risks of II. S. involvement than the kind of sup- 
port we are extending to the loyalist government. The present 
world scene presents a complex problem. There is no simple 
slogan or answer to that complexity. Today the answer is — 
l'ight the war preparations of the U. S. government; Support 
Spain. Tomorrow there may be another situation. Let us hope 
that we can meet it in a way that will uphold the aspirations and 
ideals of our Union. In that spirit the A.S.U. has sent the follow- 
ing protest to President Roosevelt: 

w ^ January 7, 1937. 

Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt 
White House 
Washington, D. C. 
My dear Mr. President: 

We are writing this letter to you in a moment of deep shame 
and outraged conviction because of the hypocritical misuse of 
America s desire to stay out of war, expressed in Congress's pas- 
sage of a law banning arms exports to the legal ly-constituted 
and democratic government in Spain. 


I 1 * • U^ !>. 

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The American Student Union is dedicated to peace. Last year 
we led a strike of 500.000 students against war. One of the rally- 
ing points of that strike was the demand for passage of genuine 
neutrality legislation. We now feel that the whole concept of 
neutrality has been tainted by an unneutral measure passed in 
its name. Why the unseeming haste to pass this bill in respect 
to Spain although in the case of the Italian aggression upon 
Ethiopia, action was stalled upon an oil embargo? How do you 
in your conscience differentiate the action in Spain from your 
refusal to act in a similar manner in respect to the civil wars in 

You are making the concept of neutrality a pretext and a cover 
to aid fascism. You do so at the same moment that you preach 
piously about cooperation among democracies. What are you 
doing to preserve democracy in the world when at the place where 
it is being most directly attacked, namely in Spain, you make 
haste to play into the hands of Germany and Italy? What are 
you doing to preserve democracy in the world when you over- 
strain yourself to pass a fake neutrality measure with respect to 
Spain but have done nothing to prevent the rearmament of fascist 
Germany? What confidence can we have in your protestations 
of hating war when the moment comes to act you aid and abet 
the chief war makers in the world? 

_. We are asking for an explanation, Mr. President, an explana- 
tion not in terms of fine pharases but in terms of realities of the 
world situation; an explanation that you owe to the millions of 
American citizens who want peace, who want to keep America 
out of war and who want to see democracy enthroned in the world. 

Sincerely yours, 

Joseph P. Lash 

National Secretary 
I have spent a longer time than I anticipated in this discussion, 
because on the issue of peace there are legitimate differences of 
policy. They should be discussed at this convention. That dis- 
cussion should not transcend the basic problems of the A.S.U. 

how to develop our Union into a mass student movement. And even 
our discussion on peace policy will have much more realism if it 
bears upon campaigns on the campus. In the round table on the 
R.O.T.C. we should examine the reasons for our failure to carry 
through local campaigns against the R.O.T.C. In our discus- 
sions of the strike we should plan how to integrate it with building 
our Union and building local United Student Peace Committees. 


TsptO-Fj ■"vj'^rjwin^Hjl 

Reconstruction in Education 

A section of our program which has been completely neglected 
in our work, despite its enduring importance, is the actual content 
of our education. A friend of mine once placed this matter 
graphically when he declared that "there is a striking and picket- 
ing that must be done within library walls." He meant that the 
curriculum itself offered a challenge to those who wanted to create 
a society in which there would be peace, economic security and 
liberty. The subject-matter of our courses in economics, history, 
psychology, anthropology, law, embody a defense of the staus quo. 
No one knows the extent of this orthodoxy because no effort has 
been made to study this matter on a widespread scale. I would 
recommend that every A.S.U. chapter form a curriculum revision 
committee which would undertake an analysis of the onesidedness 
of the present curriculum and make recommendations for new 
courses, the broadening of existing courses, and similar steps. 
The National Committee should be instructed to inaugurate such 
a study on a national scale. Chapters will find some suggestions 
in War Our Heritage, in planning a peace course, in Lewis 
Corey's articles in The Advocate, relating to economics, and in 
old issues of the Student Outlook in a series of articles "Research 
Jobs for Students" by Lucy Kramer and Felix S. Cohen. Indeed 
we could make a genuine contribution to American education if 
our collective research along these lines would culminate in a 
pamphlet on the subject of higher education. 

Harvard has undertaken an interesting experiment in its govern- 
ment department which we recommend to other chapters. Periodi- 
cally the whole department— students and faculty— comes to- 
gether for an exchange of criticism and advice. Students criticize 
methods of teaching, what is taught, textbooks, while professors 
in turn criticize and make suggestions to the students. Indeed 
the A.S.U. might challenge the faculties and administrations of 
our universities to meet on the basis of equals their student 
bodies to discuss what's the matter with our education. 

Vassar traditionally has published a Journal of Undergraduate 
Studies. This year it was announced the Journal would be discon- 
tinued. The A.S.U. undertook a campaign to have the Journal 
reappear, winning widespread support from the student body. 
Why should not all colleges publish similar pourmls? It would 
stimulate undergraduate scholarship and originality. 

Harvard A.S.U.'ers wanted to establish a society which would 


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bring film classics to Cambridge. The project was vetoed as too 
ambitious,. An independent group of students then undertook 
the plan, enlisting the support of prominent professors and stu- 
dents, and have carried through the project. We mention these 
as types of services which flow from our program, but which our 
chapters usually overlook. 

Until we achieve the type of curriculum revision which will 
gear the subject matter of our classes to contemporary society, 
the A.S.U. must set itself forward as the organization which sup- 
plies those ideas and discussion now ruled out of classrooms 
and textbooks. One of our most essential services to the campus 
has been the bringing of unorthodox speakers to the campus. In 
this^ connection I want to underline the appreciation that the 
National Office has of the need for a central speakers bureau which 
will route prominent speakers through the .chapters. The problem 
is primarily a budgetary one. 

The Smith College A.S.U. publishes a mimeographed bulletin 
containing reviews of radical and progressive books which might 
otherwise escape the attention of undergraduates. Many of our 
chapters have small study groups. This convention should con- 
sider whether the A.S.U. should not act as patron to such groups 
rather than have them completely independent of us. 

These latter considerations raise another type of problem which 
the A.S.U. must solve as it grows. Many of our members be- 
come completely bound up in the work of the A.S.U. They de- 
vote their undergraduate lives to it. We believe that they want 
no special thanks. The work itself, the sense of fulfillment that 
it gives them is their reward. Yet these people demand and we 
should provide an inner life that would be richer and diversified. 
This inner life covers such matters as social affairs, the forma- 
tion of string quartets— the New York district has spoken of 
forming a band— songfests, and all those things which will build 
a sense of camaraderie among us. 

Some members seem to feel that there is an incompatibility 
between work for the A.S.U. and a rounded undergraduate life. 
I think it is truer to state that the A.S.U., by imparting a serious 
and responsible approach to life amongst undergraduates, makes 
them take their education seriously. Indeed our opponents, with 
their trivial values, their conception of college as a four year 
escape from life, their contempt for studies, for scholarship and 
culture, are those who make philosophers declare that only the 
elite should be allowed to attend institutions of higher learning. 



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We repudiate those who consider that true scholarship can only 
be pursued in an ivory tower. We also recognize that our critical 
attitude toward the curriculum must not be used as a pretext for 
failing courses or being indifferent to grades. 

International Relations 

/~\UR record of international student solidarity is one of which 
^-^ to be proud. We are closely linked with the Cuban student 
movement, after having toured one of its leaders through Eastern 
universities. At the present time we are touring both the heroic 
Loh Tsei, leader of the Chinese Student Union, and an equally 
valiant Spanish student who comes to us direct from the battle- 
field. We have sent some funds to aid the underground, anti- 
fascist work in the Austrian universities. 

During the summer we were represented at two important stu- 
dent conferences — the International Socialist Student Congress 
at Oxford, and a left wing anti-imperialist student conference in 
Mexico. Emerging from the latter has been an Anti-Imperialist 
student federation with control centering in Mexico, but which 
is in contact with most of the important student organizations in 
North and South America. I would recommend that we continue 
our cooperation with this organization, since it will certainly 
be the nucleus for any progressive Inter-American student organ- 
ization, and we can help them with our experience. 

At Oxford our experiences in the A.S.U. contributed toward 
bringing about Socialist and Communist student unity in Europe. 
I have just heard from England that the unified University Labour 
Federation, which is affiliated with the Labor Party, has increased 
its membership from 2,000 to 3,700. It has determined to fight on 
immediate student issues. There has been similar growth in the 
unified student movement in Belgium. The Oxford unification 
proposals are now being discussed in the various countries. There 
are two possibilities— that the unity will be achieved on the basis 
of a revolutionary program which would exclude the A.S.U. 
On the other hand the international may be so broadened to be- 
come a World Student Union with national groups having the 
competence to determine their relationship to the progressive 
political parties in their countries. We have been invited to 
attend the unity conference which will take place in Paris the 
first week in July. The sixteen students who acted as observers 
at the A.S.U. at the Oxford conference contributed greatly to its 
success as well as to their own self-education. I would recom- 



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mend that our delegation to Paris number not less than fifty. 

The first A.S.U. European tour recruited fourteen students and 
was splendidly successtul. We built up great goodwill for us 
among not only European students but among American students 
travelling in Europe. It is planned to have another tour this 
coming summer which will benefit by last year's experiences. 

Our international work has become so varied that it is becoming 
necessary to set up a department of foreign affairs. The National 
Committee should appoint a resident subcommittee to work with 
the National Secretary on these matters. Even more important 
is the creation of a fund for our international work. Frequently 
we receive urgent appeals for aid from student groups abroad. At 
the present time the call comes from Spain. Or else it is desirable 
to tour a person such as Loh Tsei. Or we hope to send a delega- 
tion to China. I would propose that we create an International 
Student Solidarity Fund into which we might deposit money 
raised, for example, during Loh Tsei's tour, or perhaps you would 
sanction a nickel assessment a year for this purpose. It is impera- 
tive that such a fund be created and sustained. 

At the end of the Summer I attended the Geneva Youth Con- 
gress as a delegate from the Union. It was a very broad con- 
gress and consequently it was difficult to obtain as militant a 
stand as some of us desired. The American delegation, although 
broad in its composition was distinctly to the left of the Congress. 
That should give you some idea of the Congress's broadness. The 
Congress has become a permanent body. An American section, 
which has been meeting during the past few months, has interested 
many youth groups in peace work, such as the Girl Scouts, which 
previously have not displayed any concern for these problems. 
In that committee the A.S.U. has been a galvanizing force. 

Before I close this report, I want to say a few words about 
high school work. It will be dealt with more fully in Miss Strack's 
report. I cannot omit expressing my apreciation for the courage 
and persistency of our high school stalwarts who work under con- 
ditions much more oppressive than are found in colleges, who 
are experimenting, trying to find the techniques whereby we can 
approach the millions of high school students. If any part of 
our work demands honest thinking — thinking without dogma, it 
is the high school work. Meanwhile hats off to our high school 
section ! 

In the presence of Loh Tsei and of our Spanish friend, in the 
work we have done to establish a world student union, we are 



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demonstrating that students everywhere are faced with common 
problems and have common aspirations. This fact— that students 
the world over are groping toward the same solutions as we our- 
selves indicates a vista in terms of which the A.S.U. achieves a 
grandeur and purposefulness that we might overlook in our daily 
work Ours is no small, confining movement occupied with the 
details of achieving a more smugly comfortable life. Our move- 
ment, extending around the world, represents the outposts of a 
new way of life and a new breed of men and women. Ours is a 
generation of men and women who will not be dodged bv the 
spectres of poverty, of war, of intellectual bondage. We are 
tnen and women who will instead live in a free society, who 
» I have the chance to live the full lives that our economic and 
SS ? reS ,°T eS ^ W P 6 ^ 1 - For lhis vision ° ur f «"ow stud- 

mT IT, Cd m fi Chin u' - Cu , ba ' Spain - For this «"«"> ™ny more 
may have to sacrifice their lives. Whatever the outcome/all of 

us know that in our movement is the greatest sense of adventure 

m our movement is the only true comradeship, in our movemen 

alone can one feel at peace with one's conscience 


IIIK?-'"-".'-?!!!-^*' -'r-J-'-v 

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