In 1937, in the midst of an anti-communist Red Scare, Minnesota State Senator J.V. Weber (1892–1946) claimed to have “documentary evidence” of communist activity among faculty at the University of Minnesota. He attacked five distinguished members of the faculty because of their principled support for students to have the right to form organizations for debate and the exchange of ideas, which included a “Communist Club.” Faculty members included William Anderson, Chair of Political Science; Assistant Professor Benjamin Lippincott, Political Science; Joseph B. Ward, English; Herbert Soreson, Education; and Harold Benjamin, Chair Center for Constitution Study. Despite President Coffman’s insistence that there was “no communist activity among the faculty members,” Weber persisted in his resolution to oust faculty associated with the student group. Weber claimed he would provide evidence that these members of the faculty were Communists in the future, though he presented none that could be documented.
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