Document 27: Opening Statement by Tracy Griffin
University of Washington Faculty Senate, Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee, Hearings, vol. 1, pp. 41-45 and vol. 32, pp. 3908-11, University of Washington Manuscripts and Archives, Accession 70-30.
OPENING STATEMENT BY MR. [TRACY] GRIFFIN
[Attorney for the University of Washington]
MR. GRIFFIN: The first charge [is] that three [professors] are now members of the Communist Party... . This follows through into all of the other charges which deal with the fitness ... of a member of the Communist Party, or one who has been a member of the Communist Party, to teach in a publicly owned institution... .
Our position is and will be that the Communist Party of the United States is not a free agent; that it is a branch of the [Communist Party] of Moscow... . A member of the Party ... cannot be a free agent. The purpose of the Communist Party is infiltration, particularly in schools of higher learning... .
We will establish to you ... that the Communist Party believes they must destroy by force all governments that oppose them, including our own. And when I say "force" I mean cannons and guns... . The theory and philosophy of Communism, as well as its practices, is diametrically opposed to the Constitution of the United States, which they intend to destroy... .
And when we are through, regardless of what we may have shown or may not have shown as to what any particular professor said in his classroom to the students, ... you will readily believe that no one who is a Communist, or has been a member of the Party for any period of time, is competent to teach ... under the Administrative Code. We will not be particularly interested in proving ... what they may or may not have done in their classrooms... . We will prove that communists ... are incompetent from any standpoint [and should not] remain in this institution... .
[These six professors] have brought ... disrepute upon the University of Washington; ... they have neglected their duty to act as a free agent in seeking the truth; ... they have been dishonest and incompetent by consistently following the Communist Party line, which is laid down in Moscow; they have therefore demonstrated their unfitness to remain members of the University faculty.
Briefly, that is our position... .
PROFESSOR SHOLLEY [Member of the Tenure Committee]: Mr. Griffin, ... you believe that the Administrative Code allows the University to dismiss [professors] who do not exhibit "good behavior." ... But how are we to determine ... what constitutes "good behavior"? ...
MR. GRIFFIN: The standard of a [professor] must be higher than the standard of the ordinary man in the street... . He must conduct himself ... so that he does not bring the institution into disrepute by that which he does.
PROFESSOR SHOLLEY: Well, is it your contention or position that any activity of a teacher, which would bring the institution into disrepute, would have been a lack of good behavior, according to your reading of the Tenure Code?
MR. GRIFFIN: I would say yes, if it offended the good taste of the community... . If in the general feeling of the community [a professor] engages in bad taste, ... if he offends good taste, he is bringing the University into disrepute—and it seems to me that Professor Gundlach is an awfully good example of that—and he can be [fired] for that... .
PROFESSOR SHOLLEY: All I can say is this. What bothers me is the variety of standards which you and the University administration are proposing. [The Administrative Code seems fairly clear that a professor can only be dismissed for incompetency, mental unfitness, and so forth. But the administration is arguing that a professor can be dismissed for offending] public opinion, or [being a] menace to the government. Intellectual surrender or domination by some foreign power. In other words, these standards are so different that I am, myself, at a loss as to just how the administration intends us to [interpret] the Administrative Code.
MR. GRIFFIN: The Code is much broader than [you are interpreting it.] The Code states ... "one is entitled to tenure during good behavior." And I don't know any broader term that can be used than that. If it isn't a matter of good behavior, he isn't entitled to tenure. That is the language of the Code—"during good behavior."
It seems to me that ... you must [interpret] the Code in that light, not limit it, not restrict it. We may disagree entirely as to what constitutes good behavior, but that is matter for you people [on the Tenure Committee] to determine.
PROFESSOR SHOLLEY: In other words, it is your contention, if I understand you, that anything which the majority of the Committee members conceive to be bad behavior, any such conduct would allow the Committee to vote for dismissal [of the offending professor]?
MR. GRIFFIN: ... Yes.