Column, April 5, 1935, Page 2
"Teacher, may we have expression?"
Because the students of our metropolitan colleges have disregarded the above formula, because editors have dared to try to make their undergraduate newspapers honest organs for expressing student opinion and fighting for student rights, we have seen recently alarming abridgements of academic freedom.
A few weeks ago the Hunter College Bulletin was ordered to reorganize under faculty supervision and censorship. The Bulletin is ignoring this new regulation, as is every organization in the college except the Newman Club, but it expects, according to a Bulletin member, to be suspended any day.
Abraham Kagen, editor of Main Events, City College Evening newspaper, was forced to resign last week because of his editorial support of the April 12 strike.He stated in his editorial:
"The Anti-War Strike is a common fight for humanity, for civilization. for our very lives. It must have the support of every student "
Twenty-two members of the staff went on strike to demonstrate their support of Mr. Kagen, and to obtain a more democratic press. This protest resulted in his reinstatement as editor. "I believe,' Mr: Kasen told a Spotlight reporter, "that I am serving the students of the school to the best of my ability in supporting the Anti-War strike. I will continue both my service and my support."
The Columbia Spectator's four-year struggle against censorship culminated last Thursday when its staff of sixty-five, led by James A. Wechsler, editor, struck against the decision of the Columbia :Student Board which stripped Wechsler of his control over the editorial policy of his. paper. This power was placed instead, in the hands of a managing board which comprises four students. The Columbia Student Board refused the staff's. plea for s student referendum on the proposed change.
To protest these infringements of student liberties, the Spectator published a strike issue with all the columns of the newspaper blank. The only printed matter on the paper was an explanation of the situation, which stated: "We are opposed to the revision. We have voted to strike in protest."
; "First, because it is a menacing precedent for curbing the paper's editorial policy."
"Second, because we contend that in a question of such major proportions, Student Board has abused its authority in refusing to hold a student referendum–The basic issue is: do we want to preserve The Spectator as an independent, critical organ? Or do we want it gradually transformed into a paper which says nothing and pleases everybody?"
The result of the strike issue was the suspension of the paper by Student Board and the withdrawal of the Spectator subsidy. For the first time in fifty-eight years, the college had no newspaper, but the Spectator, published by students of Columbia College, appeared on the campus asl an unofficial publication financed by sympathizers.
Thereupon the Student Board proposed the immediate reinstatement of the Spectator, and a student referendum on the question at the general elections in April, provided that the paper accepts the Board's ruling until results are obtained from the poll. The Spectator staff unanimously accepted this proposal.
"The precedent which I believe we have set," said James A. Wechsler, editor of the Columbia Spectator, in an interview with a Spotlight reporter, "is that the students of the college have a right to determine whether they want an independent student press. We have agreed to the Student Board proposal because it means victory for our belief that the student body should have a voice in the actions of its representatives."