ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND ITS ENEMIES: THEN AND NOW
“Attacking Academic Freedom in America,” an exhibition documenting student and faculty political activism at CCNY in the 1930s, will be on display in the William and Anita Newman Library (151 East 25 St.) through Feb. 23, 2006. The exhibition, previously titled “The Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY,” was curated by Carol Smith, who was for many years a SEEK counselor at CCNY and is currently a SEEK counselor at Baruch.
The exhibition documents the rising tide of activism that was spawned by the Great Depression and gained momentum with the rise of Fascism in Europe. The activist movement of faculty and student radicals brought on repeated crackdowns by the administration, ultimately resulting in the dismissal of 50 CCNY faculty and staff—the largest academic purge in U.S. history. The exhibition is particularly timely in view of the U.S. Patriot Act and post-2001 federal government monitoring of universities, seen by some Americans as already having a chilling effect on free speech inside and outside the classroom.
To mark the opening of the exhibition, there will be a panel discussion devoted to “Defending Academic Freedom” on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 7-250 of the Newman Conference Center. Participants include Henry Foner, City College Downtown (now Baruch College) Student Council President, 1938-39; Stephen Leberstein, Executive Director, City College Center for Worker Education; Alisa Solomon, former Baruch faculty member, now at the Columbia University School of Journalism; and Clarence Taylor, professor of History, Baruch College.
A musical interlude devoted to the Rapp-Coudert Committee is promised. The Rapp-Coudert Committee is considered the predecessor of the McCarthy-era House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).