December 5, 1947, p. 5
Columbia University Bars Howard Fast as Speaker
Columbia University has barred novelist Howard Fast from speaking on the campus at a Dec. 12 meeting of the Columbia chapter of the Progressive Citizens of America, it was announced yesterday by Robert Persons, student chairman of the PCA chapter. Persons charged Columbia's action "is a complete break with the liberal traditions of American education and represents the ascendancy of the hysterical mentality associated with the recent activities of the House Un-American Affairs Committee."
The ban was issued by University Provost Elbert C. Jacobs late Wednesday. PCA chairman Persons said Jacobs had told him that although Columbia had been liberal in the past in letting campus organizations have their own speakers and determine their own policies, in this particular case the administration didn't think it could permit Fast to speak. According to Persons, provost Jacobs said the specific reason for banning Fast was that he was under sentence as a result of conviction for contempt of Congress.
The provost added, according to the student leader, that precedent existed for this in the case of Earl Browder, who had been allowed to speak on campus both before he was indicted and after he had been released from prison, but not in the interim period.
OKAYED IN OCTOBER
Persons pointed out, however, that as recently as late October a PCA meeting scheduling Fast as speaker had been approved by the University. (The meeting was postponed at the last minute because Fast was unable to keep the date. Fast and the other 15 leaders of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee were found guilty on June 27, of contempt for failure to comply with the demand of the House Un-American Activities Committee to produce the organization's books and records.
Fast, who is also chairman of the Literature Division of the PCA, issued the following statement:
"The action of Columbia University barring me from the campus can only add fuel to the fires of intolerance already burning in this land. Few alert Americans will doubt that the University's action was prompted by the threat of the Un-American Committee to turn their attention to the campus. Yet how ignominious is the spectacle of a great university, a world center of art, culture and knowledge, retreating, not before the attack itself, but before the incipient threat of attack."