Campus in Crisis: The Cold War Conflict over Academic Freedom at UCLA

Monday, October 21, 2019 - 9:00am to Sunday, January 5, 2020 - 5:00pm

UCLA Royce Hall with red overlay Campus in Crisis banner

The decade following World War II revealed the United States as a deeply divided country. Although some Americans saw the victory as an opportunity to push for social change either in electoral politics or civil rights, many others moved from a focus on Nazism to a fear of Communism as a threat to the “American way of life.” American colleges and universities were not spared this conflict. 

At the University of California in general, and at UCLA in particular, the crisis emerged from the UC Regents’ 1949 demand that all faculty and staff sign an oath declaring that they were not members of the Communist Party as a condition of employment. In response, students and faculty, both supporters and opponents of the oath, organized. Some faculty refused to sign the oath and lost their positions, other faculty signed but sought to aid the non-signers, and others supported the oath and viewed the non-signers as either foolish troublemakers or as dangers to the institution. Students divided in their position on faculty as well; but they added new dimensions to the debate as they argued over the nature not only of academic freedom but of the free press. In all, members of the campus community had to confront two separate questions: what was a university for and how should you respond to a crisis? Campus in Crisis: The Cold War Conflict over Academic Freedom at UCLA takes up these issues.

This exhibit reflects the collective efforts of students enrolled in History 97D Free Speech on Campus: Academic Freedom in Cold War America during the 2019 Spring term. The following students curated and created this exhibit as their final research project:

David Chidester, Benjamin Lemus, Thelonius Yardley, Francisco "Paco" Perez, Cody Wilson, Andrew Mankarios, Andrea Rodriguez, Jerome Davis, Leah Moffett, Kathryn Gonzalez-Valle, Sonya Brooks, Taylor McCutcheon, McKenna Peterson, Art Quevedo

The exhibit is on view in the Charles E. Young Research Library and is accompanied by an online exhibit: Campus in Crisis: The Cold War Conflict over Academic Freedom at UCLA.


Research Library (Charles E. Young)