Column, November 15, 1935, Page 2
To the American student, James Wechsler's account of Revolt on the campus is as realistic as next period's quiz and as vital as the November 8 Anti-War Mobilization. Here is no theoretical account of trends and tides of this younger generation, but the real story of the ferment and activity which is taking place on the American campus today. When Mr. Wechsler writes of the campaigns and struggles participated in by undergraduates, he writes from experience as last year's editor of the Columbia Spectator.
Mr. Wechsler traces the development of collegiate sentiment from the days of the World War, when the colleges were fertile ground for militaristic propaganda, to the boom days of Hoover, when according to one reviewer, the undergraduate could "sit pretty, drink deep, strike poses and look wise."
The recent economic collapse, however, aroused the student from his academic slumber to the realization of what his future meant–unemployment and insecurity. Revolt on the campus shows the reaction of the newly awakened student to the instability and contradictions of the system under which he lives.
The expedition undertaken by several students to Harlan, Kentucky, where they saw first hand the working class conditions in the deep South, and the subsequent expulsion of Reed Harris from Columbia for editorially approving the trip, as well as for campaigning against militarism and profiteering in the colleges, served as an impetus to further undergraduate activity all over the United States. One road of activity is a united fight by students against military training in the schools, such as resistance to the R.O.T.C. in many Universities.
Revolt on the Campus explains how the "Red Scare" is being used as a reactionary device to defeat militant student action because, as Mr. Wechsler proves, "the twentieth century's consolidation of capital has created a monopoly even in the educational sphere... leaving scarcely an institution untenanted by some vassal of the Morgan-Rockefeller-Mellon dynasty."
Mr. Wechsler accuses the academic administration of the colleges with failure to meet the issue of academic freedom squarely. A reverberation of this indictment has come from H.N. MacCracken, the president of Vassar College, in the form of a letter published in the New York Times on November 10. President MacCracken shows the "other side" when he states:
"Our platform may be summed up in three word: Let students study. That is the sole justification for the privileges which they enjoy."
President MacCracken objects to the reference to his "waning enthusiasm" for student participation in politics made by Mr. Wechsler in Revolt on the Campus, declaring that such enthusiasm has never existed.
"Students and parents of students who are thinking of affiliating with such institutions as those I have in mind," warns President MacCracken,"will do well to inform themselves in advance of the actual conditions prevailing on the campus, and will learn, unless I am mistaken, that, in spite of all the propaganda, general conditions today are excellent."
Doesn't President MacCracken that students affiliate themselves because they are informed of conditions, and that a militant student movement arises only in answer to the needs of the undergraduate?
Mr. Wechsler declares that "the path to an ordered, cooperative, profitless society is a long and perilous one." Revolt on the campus shows us the adventures of the American students on the road to "Peace, Freedom, and Progress."