Menu JTA Search

Columbia University Acts to Ban Bias Among Student Groups

Acting on the basis of a student vote, Columbia University yesterday announced its decision to withdraw official recognition from any campus organization, except religious groups, which discriminate in membership because of an applicant’s race, color or religion. However, the University’s ban will not go into effect until October, 1960.

The University’s action is expected to affect only four fraternities on the Columbia campus–with a combined membership of 180–which still discriminate. Similar prohibitions against discrimination are in effect in a number of leading colleges and more are contemplated. At Columbia itself, 1,011 of 1,551 students participating in a referendum last week, voted in favor of setting a deadline for the elimination of discrimination by college organizations. As early as November, 1950, the Columbia student board, also acting on the basis of a referendum, suggested a 1956 deadline.

The University resolution imposing the 1960 deadline, which was passed last Friday, reads: “Recognition on the Columbia campus shall be withdrawn from any fraternity, social organization or other student group that, after October 1, 1960, is compelled by its constitution, rituals or government to deny membership to any person because of his race, color or religion. This resolution shall not apply to a student group that is organized in good faith for devotional purposes or for the study of propagation of a religious faith.”

In an accompanying statement, the University declared that Columbia wished to protect the student’s freedom “to select friends and associates according to personal interests and tastes” against “interference by persons or groups outside the university.”

NEXT STORY