The Year of the Oath: The Fight for Academic Freedom at the University of California

The Year of the Oath: The Fight for Academic Freedom at the University of California

The Year of the Oath: The Fight for Academic Freedom at the University of California

The Year of the Oath: The Fight for Academic Freedom at the University of California

Excerpt

That was the Year of the Oath. It was neither a calendar year nor an academic year. It ran from just before examinations to just before examinations, and straddled across from 1949 to 1950.

In that year we went to oath meetings, and talked oath, and thought oath. We woke up, and there was the oath with us in the delusive bright cheeriness of the morning. "Oath" read the headline in the newspaper, and it put a bitter taste into the breakfast coffee. We discussed the oath during lunch at the Faculty Club. And what else was there for subject matter at the dinner table? Then we went to bed, and the oath hovered over us in the darkness, settling down as a nightmare of wakefulness.

Then, in the hours of the night, Academic Freedom and all the other high ideals drew far off and seemed small, and each man or woman, alone, faced "Sign-or-get-out!" in terms of next month's bills, or the daughter to be kept in college, or the payments on the house and the baby due in the summer, or the ever-recurrent thought, "At my age, could I get another job?"

There were the ups and downs. June and July were bad; August was quieter; September was tense. The Christmas vacation, for most of us, was fortunately a calm interlude. But after each full the crisis built up more fiercely than before.

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