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November 27, 2012 - 3:43pm

This Week in History: State policy adopted to ban speech against government stucture


75 years ago this week (November 28, 1937): The Michigan Union Executive Council announced the first lecture of the fall series of Union forums, The Michigan Daily reported.

The fall series centered discussion on “political problems of the day,” according to the Daily. The first address was scheduled to be given by then-Political Science Prof. Lawrence Preuss, who planned to discuss German affairs and socialism.

The forums, which were open to the public, consisted of a half-hour lecture, followed by a half-hour discussion on the topic.

50 years ago this week (November 28, 1962): A uniform speaker policy was “unanimously adopted” by the Michigan Coordinating Council for Public Higher Education, the Daily reported.

The policy, fashioned after the University speaker bylaw adopted by the University’s Board of Regents, forbade speeches that urged violence or “modification of the government of the United States or state of Michigan, by violence or sabotage,” according to the Daily.

Then-Law Prof. Samuel D. Estep, a member of the council speaker policy committee, claimed the policy did not limit public discourse, and members of the council vowed to enforce the policy within their individual schools.

“The policy in no way controls or prohibits discussion on the desirability of changes of legal rules or even of our form of government,” Estep said, adding that the policy is only a “minimal restriction” on the freedom of speech.

25 years ago this week (November 30, 1987): Thirty students protested outside the Student Activities Building with the intention of delaying recruitment interviews with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Daily reported.

The intensity of the event escalated after then-graduate student Harold Marcuse was allegedly kicked by a University public safety officer, and planned on pressing assault charges against the unidentified officer, according to the Daily.

Deborah May, then-career planning and placement director, said that though the protest delayed the interviews, ultimately none of they were cancelled.

One of the protesters, then-graduate student Michael Schroeder, expressed satisfaction with the demonstration.

“If the CIA decides not to come back, then it’s a success,” Schroeder said. “I feel good about what we’ve done, and I’d do it again.”