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Class of 1939...



The Class of ’39, which had helped revive social activities on campus, outdid itself in the senior term with the musical comedies “Brother Frat” (presumably a spin on the “Brother Rat” films that starred Ronald Reagan, among others), a presentation of the fraternities, and Dramsoc’s What’s the Youth, which ran for four nights. The boatride and gym dances were also popular.

Fraught relations between the student body and City College President Frederick B. Robinson - which included the announcement of the dismissal of English Professor Morris U. Schappes, followed by protests and demonstrations and, ultimately, the granting of tenure to Mr. Schappes via a Board of Higher Education ruling - had come to an end in the summer of 1938 with the announcement granting a leave of absence to the president. Nelson Mead, chairman of the History department, was named acting president. Robinson subsequently offered his official resignation, which was accepted by the Board on December 16.

Events in Europe were followed closely, as Hitler was accommodated by England’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the Czechoslavak Republic was sacrificed at the “peace” of Munich. A “Save Czechoslovakia Rally” became the largest meeting of the term, with the Czech president’s brother and former Czech Senator, Vojta Benes, welcomed by Student Council President Harold Roth in the Great Hall, along with other speakers. Graphic description of the lack of academic freedom under totalitarianism was given at the draping of the Nazi college flags in the Great Hall, with the words “Till the old Germany shall awake” affixed to the pillars under the flags.

Foreign conflicts were brought even closer to home when it was announced that, in addition to other CCNY boys, Ralph Wardlaw, instructor in the Public Speaking Department, and Jack Freeman, President of the ’39 class, had died in Spain, fighting Fascist aggression.

Despite the weight of world events and tensions at home, or perhaps as a necessary counterbalance, the College managed to foster and maintain a busy social and club life. The Faculty Council requirement that clubs list their members in the Dean’s office was repealed, thus removing a source of friction.

The big event of the season was the Senior Prom. Held at the Astor Roof Garden, it featured Artie Gellin’s orchestra and Audrey Christie and Charles Walters of “I Married an Angel” as reigning King and Queen.

The Senior History section of the 1939 Microcosm concludes on an ominous note, suitable to a nation still recovering from the Great Depression and observing the conflicts abroad with growing concern: “Now we must face the unpleasant prospect of a world with steadily dwindling opportunities, a country which is no longer ‘the golden land of opportunity.’”

Many of these Class notes are excerpted from the 1939 Microcosm, Editor-in-Chief Stanley Lowenbraun.



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