Discrimination in Education Deprives Jews of Equal Opportuntity, Truman Commission Says
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Discrimination in Education Deprives Jews of Equal Opportuntity, Truman Commission Says

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Discrimination against Jewish and Negro students in obtaining higher and professional education is assailed by the President’s Commission on Higher Education as depriving them of equal opportunity with non-Jewish students in certain fields of advenced study.

In the second volume of its report to President Truman, “Equalizing and Expanding Individual Opportunity,” released today, the Commission declares the situation has been aggravated in recent years and recommends the removal from application ? of educational institutions “of all questions pertaining to religion, color, and national or racial origin.”

Terming the Negro “the most frequent victim of racial discrimination,” the report cites the experience of Jewish students as “a second significant body of il?strative evidence regarding discrimination.

“It is well to repeat the warning,” the report states, “that in determining opportunities for education, it is not sound democratic doctrine to invoke the ar##ment of maintaining the same ratios of minority group numbers enrolled in colleges to total population numbers. One only defensible basis is that total ability and interest rather than quotas or ratios, however determined, be the criteria of admission is institutions of higher learning.”

The Commission urged compelscry legislation in the form of “Fair Educational tractices Laws,” similar to the fair employment practices measures enacted or considered by several states, particularly by New York. Rejecting the idea of voluntary action as inadequate, the report stresses “the urgency” of the issue of discrimination in American national life. It labels a “national phenomenon” discrimination against Negroes, Jews, Catholics, Orientals and others.

Educational institutions, despite private control and support, are acknowledged to have a vital public interest “and as such are morally obligated to abandon restrictive policies.


“In order that this mandate of public obligation shall have equal force everywhere,” emphasizes the report, “and not lead marely” to passage pronouncements by individual colleges, the passage of legislation along lines of the proposed legislation against discrimination in New York seems the logical way. The Commission concludes that to assure a universal and equal regard for a policy of indiscrimination the legal method becomes both fair and practical.

“Moreover a universal legal mandate can be a helpful defense for admission officers against undue pressure of al?mni groups and of professional associations which may attempt to influence admissions policies… in accordance with an established tradition.”

Citing a decennial study made by the Vocational Service Bureau of B’nai B’rith, the Presidential Commission reported a sharp decline in the percentage of Jewish law students, and a decrease also in the proportion of Jewish engineering, medical and dental students, as well as in teaching, architecture, social work, commerce and fine arts. A sharp rise from 9.1 percent in 1935 to 20.3 percent in 1946 of Jewish students in osteopathy resulted chiefly, according to the report, “from the blocking of opportunity in medicine.”

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