A History of the UCLA Daily Bruin, 1919-1955
Testimony of Dean Milton E. Hahn
by George Garrigues
Printed edition © 1970, 1997
Internet Edition © 2000, 2001
All rights reserved, but you are welcome to download electronic copies, send e-copies to your friends or make printouts for yourself.
Go to the Front of the Book
Preface, Contents, List of Editors, Bibliography and Index
The following is an abridged version of the testimony by Milton E. Hahn, dean of students at UCLA, before the California state Senate Committee on Un-American Activities on Dec. 10, 1956. Only those portions dealing with the Daily Bruin are excerpted. The full testimony can be found in the committee's report for 1957.
Q. Your name is Milton E. Hahn?
A. That is correct.
Q. You are Dean of Students at the University of California at Los Angeles?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long have you held that position?
A. Since February 1948.
Q. At the time you commenced your tenure there, was there a student newspaper called The Daily Bruin?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. That newspaper has been published continuously ever since you have been at the institution?
A. That is correct, sir.
Q. As a part of your duties as Dean of Students, have you concerned yourself with the problem of Communist and subversive infiltration at the university? . . .
A. Yes, sir.
Q. In your opinion, what part has the student paper, The Daily Bruin, played in the dissemination of subversive propaganda among the students at the university?
A. It has been a very prominent aspect of the paper, in my opinion, for all but a few semesters.
Q. You say for all but a few semesters?
A. That is correct.
Q. Are you referring to semesters at the beginning of your tenure at the university or at the present time?
A. Dr. Allen made the statement that this semester's Bruin has been almost, or has been completely free, in his opinion, and in mine. There have been semesters in between where the writings by alleged or admitted Communists and a clearly distinguishable party line have been less than in others. Let me point out, if I may volunteer a statement there, beginning with the year 1949 and 1950, there were 1,969 column inches of space written by people who claimed to be Communists or who followed the Communist line very completely.
Q. How many column inches?
A. One thousand, nine hundred sixty-nine, and this is a conservative estimate.
Q. Do you have similar statistical data for other periods of time?
A. It would be quite simple, sir, for someone to figure it out if we had an adding machine. I have the column inches, but they are not totaled. This is the worst year since I have been there.
A. The year 1949-50.
Q. You have made available to the committee, through me, these compilations?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. I have copies of them here?
A. That is correct.
Q. For the purpose of identification, I wish to show them to you at the present time and have you identify and authenticate them so we can incorporate them into our records.
A. Those are true copies.
Q. Thank you. For the record, the documents are as follows: spring of 1948 -- those are the semesters, Dean Hahn?
Q. Spring of 1948 issue of The Daily Bruin, beginning February 23d and ending July 15th. Spring of 1950, commencing with the issue of February 7th and ending with the issue of July 19th. For the fall semester of 1950, the issue of The Daily Bruin, beginning September 13th and ending on October 25th. The spring semester of 1951, beginning with the issue of February 14th and ending with the issue of July 13th. For the fall semester of 1951, the issue beginning December 28th and ending with the issue for January 7th. Spring of 1952, the issue beginning February 21st and ending May 14th. The fall of 1952, beginning with the issue for September 24th and ending with the issue for January 9th. Spring of 1955, issue beginning February 18th and ending with the issue for June 3d. Spring of 1956, which would be a partial coverage, beginning with the issue for April 9th and ending with the issue for May 14th.
Q. Now, Dean Hahn, would you explain how these documents were compiled. I mean by what process.
A. Page by page review for the entire year . . .
Q. Do you recall a student by the name of Helen Edelman?
A. I knew Miss Edelman quite well.
Q. What was the period of her activity at U. C. L. A.?
A. As a student, or over-all?
Q. As a student, first.
A. I would place it from approximately 1950 into the last of 1952-53.
Q. Did she write for the student newspaper?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. The Daily Bruin?
A. Yes, sir, and held an editorial board position.
Q. On that paper?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did she exert considerable influence, in your opinion, so far as the editorial policy of the paper was concerned?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. She was a member of the Communist [Party] by her own admission, was she not?
A. She so stated in print.
Q. After leaving the university, she became a reporter for the Communist newspaper, the Daily People's World?
A. I have heard this.
Q. Have you seen any articles under her name in that paper?
A. Not in the People's World, Mr. Combs, but in a Communist newspaper which she and another former university student at U. C. L. A. had issued.
Q. Communist publication?
A. I believe it was so designated . . .
Q. I am now looking at a document which has been compiled for the spring of 1950, an analysis of the material in The Daily Bruin. I note on February 15th, there was an article by Helen Edelman; on March 1st, there was another article by Helen Edelman; on March 3d, there were two by Helen Edelman; on March 29th, there was another, and so on. Dr. Hahn, in each instance, the number of column inches devoted to that type of material can be ascertained and can be computed from the documents which you have submitted to us?
A. That is correct.
Q. So that the committee can compare that type of material in the student newspaper with other types of material which have been evaluated by your office as carrying a party line content?
A. It would be an underestimate, sir; there is one semester missing here in which she wrote that you could get a quite accurate count.
Q. Before we go into a general description of conditions at the university, there are some other documents which I think we had better identify. I hand you now a file of papers in a manila folder entitled The Observer, 1955, and ask you if you will examine that file, please, and tell me of what it consists.
A. This is a file of a paper published off campus. It was a weekly. It was staffed by individuals who had been members of The Daily Bruin staff . . .
Q. Just what was The Observer, Dean Hahn? How did it originate, if you know, and what was the extent of its circulation? . . .
A. Going back into Bruin history, up until 1950 -- I have to count on my fingers -- up until four semesters ago, the Bruin was controlled by a self-perpetuating group, theoretically responsible to student government, but actually, able most of the time to completely force student government to do as it wished. It is a publication of the regents. Any publication bearing the name University of California is published by the regents. The publisher and owner by privity is the student council on each of the campuses at the University of California which has a paper. The key people on the Bruin are paid university journalists. They do not buy yachts, but they are paid enough for car fare, and so on. Four semesters ago, because of things that were happening, it was deemed necessary to change the system.
Q. What do you mean by things that were happening?
A. Oh, complaints of alumni, complaints of former members on the Bruin staff who had been squeezed out, complaints by the faculty, the administration, and students.
Q. What complaints were made? What were they mostly concerned with?
A. They varied all over the lot. Many students came in over the years complaining that they wanted to work on the student paper, but apparently their viewpoints were wrong and they were squeezed out. In the years I mentioned, with the tremendous output, 1949 and 1950, they had developed some interesting methods of election. The Bruin staff, reportedly, by majority vote, recommended their successors; but in that year, a practice was introduced of taking written ballots for the editor and the managing editors, removing them from the room and announcing the results, but nobody ever saw the ballots. If the staff was split, as it frequently was, they would wait until someone walked out and broke the quorum; or at midnight, they would hold their meetings and the members would object to going out that late. They even threatened to strike if the student council wouldn't let them do as they wished. This happened several times. It was a closely controlled organization, spending from 60 to 100 thousand dollars a year of someone else's money. As I said, that system was changed four semesters ago, so that any person having the qualifications to be editor could run for that position. The one who received a majority of the votes became editor and had a very strong voice in selecting his own staff. Since that time, the personnel and journalistic aspect has changed markedly. In other words, by introducing more democracy, we obtained a different result.
Q. How does that situation connect itself with The Observer?
A. The Observer staff were people who lost out in the election and decided to publish the paper. The financing of it probably cost about a thousand dollars. Some of it came from subscriptions, where the rest of it came from is a direct mystery, we don't know.
Q. Was any effort made to obtain university permission to circulate on the campus?
A. This is against the regulations of the university to distribute more than one university paper and that franchise was held by the Bruin.
Q. But an effort was made by The Observer?
Q. When that was denied by the then administration, was The Observer circulated off campus?
A. Yes, sir. It reached a number of people.
Q. Is it still being printed?
A. No, sir. One of the key people went to Mexico City, I believe, shortly after that last issue. The others -- some stayed in school.
Q. Do the names of the staff members and editors, and so on, appear in the various issues of the papers?
A. Yes, but in fairness, let me point out that a number of these are fine young men and women who believe that they were fighting a legitimate, liberal cause. I don't think there should be any implications made.
Q. That is the reason we prefer not to introduce names publicly at this time. That is a general technique with subversive groups, isn't it, particularly front organizations, to attract sincere liberals, non-subversive personnel for the purpose of recruiting and propagandizing?
A. That is correct, sir . . . The big blow-up on the campus, if I may backtrack a moment -- I think that the most activity for control, from the standpoint of the students and adult directors of these movements, were directed toward The Daily Bruin. There is no use creating incidents and fighting causes if you can't get publicity. In the semester [sic] because of strong presidents of the student body and strong editors of the Bruin, I think you can follow a very clear drop-off. It is impossible to get publicity, so why waste time? If you get a weak student body president or a council that is confused and a Bruin staff that is willing to be used -- it doesn't have to be strong, but the activity steps up markedly. That is quite a clear trend as you look back on it. I don't know whether you want me to read something into the record, but Mr. Charles Francis, who is one of the finest college newspaper men that it has ever been my privilege to meet and one of the most courageous, in 1948 and 1949, when things were rough and there was physical danger apparently, said in his "Gideon's Dirty Linen," a five-part editorial that ran for a week in which is included Mr. Frank McNitt's Westwood Hills Press editorial, "All of the evidence in this series, however, is a matter of record and it forms a meaningful and alarming pattern for me. After dealing with this group for two years, I can arrive at none but the following conclusions."
Q. To whom is he referring?
A. The Labor Youth League, who put on the Carver rally . . . "That their activities are planned to harass and harm the reputation of the University of California at Los Angeles. Their methods in dealing with the University and student organizations are dishonest, sub rosa and insincere. That as long as the rest of the students continue their present unwillingness to contribute articles representing their own viewpoints and convictions, The Daily Bruin feature page will be dominated by ideas of a militant minority. Lastly, I have learned that to do business with the Students for Wallace is to be double-crossed, smeared and misguided." I would substitute the LYL there. Then, there was a second editorial written by Peter Braber [sic; should be Peter Graber]. He closed out what was the number two editorial written in the Bruin on this subject; it is entitled "Kiss of Death." He writes:
"Discrimination, faculty loyalty oaths, clamp-downs on the student press and the prohibition of political speakers on the campus all are problems which liberal students are endeavoring to rectify. Yet, as soon as these students launch programs designed to correct such evils, the first- and second-string Communists and their red squads, the LYL, YPA, et al., come forward with outstretched arms. A conservative reaction which curtails any progress. In many instances, the liberals are unaware that they are being used by the reds; in other cases, they welcome any and all support they can get, not fully realizing the implications involved. Thus, it is often the liberal's own naivete which plays into the Communist hands though liberal leaders seem to have become more aware of the red infiltration." Mr. Graber was an excellent, sincere and sound liberal.
Q. What was the date of that?
A. That was written May 7, 1952. Coming down to the present situation, I don't think we are in any better or worse condition than most state institutions. The public is unaware of some of the differences. In a private institution, the student can be asked to leave, his money refunded, because he attends as a privilege. In a state institution, as Dr. Allen pointed out, he attends as a right. That is as it should be, unless there is a civil action or criminal action where guilt is proved in court, regardless of what the individual does he remains in the institution. We don't run courts; we are not an adjudicating or a legal body, so we work under completely different sets of circumstances. The system that seems to be working at the present time with this collectivist approach, has been a constant attempt to create disunity between the students, the faculty and the administration. This is done by a series of created events, and if you had control of the Bruin you would be able to get publicity. In the larger picture, they seek control of some university employees as well as the student body, and if they can't make it in one jump, they will make it in ten. It is important to them to control the University and also, if possible, control the smaller campuses such as Santa Barbara and Riverside and the smaller campus south of here [the Scripps Institution of Oceanography]. You are seeing a small number of very hard working, determined people who are doing everything in their power, No. 1, to control the University, No. 2, wherever possible, to make it lose public confidence. This is a standard operating procedure.
Q. It is standard technique, is it not?
A. Yes, sir . . .
Q. Do you have anything to add to your testimony, Dean Hahn?
A. No, sir, except I agree with Dr. Allen that it is a privilege to have a chance to work with a governmental agency which may be called hysterical or witch-hunting, but completely undeservedly. I think the University owes you a debt of gratitude for what you gentlemen are doing.