College Files Open to Official Investigations Give "Significant" Facts, Dean McKnight Says

by George Striker

(from the Columbia Spectator, Wednesday, April 8, 1953)

All significant information is given to government investigators in loyalty investigations of Columbia College students or graduates, Nicholas D. McKnight, Dean of Students, announced yesterday.

"Our practice," the Dean [read] out in a prepared statement, "is to furnish the investigators with the scholastic records of the individuals in whom they are interested." He said also that in addition to disclosure of academic records, the Dean's office attempts "to provide accurate pictures of the graduate's qualities and capacities by referring to "personnel folders." "We often refer them to members of the staff for additional opinion and information."

The personnel folders contain personal reports on undergraduates filed by the instructors at the conclusion of the semester.

In reply to a reporter's question on whether or not he would mention that a graduate was a member of the Young Marxist League, no longer active on the Columbia campus, Dean McKnight said that it would depend upon the individual case.

"We would not cover up any information which we believed to be of significance," he said.

The question posed by loyalty probers according to the Dean is mostly worded in the form, "Do you have any reason to question his loyalty, and if so why?" The Dean did not comment directly on the percentage of favorable loyalty reports to unfavorable ones issued by the Dean's Office but his statement said:

"In most instances the cooperation which we give is distinctly helpful to the job applicants who deserve to have their good records accurately presented."

Dean Carl W. Ackerman of the School of Journalism has discontinued his practice of supplying information, charging that these investigations curtail academic freedom in an article in the April 3 issue of the bulletin of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Dean McKnight had no comment on Dean Ackerman's allegations on the Congressional probers.

He did however confirm Dean Ackerman's statement that these investigations are large in number. He said also that in addition to the frequent checks for jobs there is a rare investigation to see whether a student is subversive.

As an example of this he mentioned that a month ago the McCarthy Senate investigating committee subpoenaed the records a Columbia College graduate working for the Voice of America. He refused to disclose the name of the graduate.

In such a case, the Dean said however, the office has no choice but to give the full records to the committee.


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Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:42:40 EDT