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Some Jews Are “Acceptable”: University Quotas
Jews’ thirst for education led them to apply to universities in disproportionate numbers in the early 1900s. Universities, led by Harvard and Columbia, responded with quotas to limit Jewish enrollment.
While Southern schools tended to be more open, discrimination was felt here too, especially in professional schools. Duke maintained a quota of three percent in the 1930s. North Carolina Women’s College (now UNC Greensboro) and UNC Chapel Hill were the schools of choice for most Jewish students. Discriminatory barriers began falling decisively in the 1960s.
The Jewish “Problem” at UNC
In 1933 Morris Krasny complained that UNC had rejected his medical school application because of a Jewish quota. Medical school dean Isaac Manning said that he accepted just four Jewish students, 10% of the enrollment, because Jews would have difficulty finding places in four-year medical schools after attending UNC’s two-year program. Insisting that the policy was not based on prejudice, Manning invoked academic freedom and standards. He won the support of alumni groups and all but one of UNC’s medical faculty.
Manning’s memoirs express concern about a Jewish problem. Some Jews he found “acceptable,” but he did not want UNC overrun with Jews and felt that a Gentile would not want a Jew for a laboratory partner. He favored “rigid measures” against “exceedingly objectionable” Jewish students who changed their names or forged transcripts to gain admittance. UNC President Frank Graham overruled Manning and admitted Krasny. Manning resigned as dean although not from the faculty.
Confronting the “Christian Tenure Policy”
In 1977 Davidson College withdrew its job offer to political scientist Ronald Linden because he could not honor the school’s “church-related” mission and meet its “Christian tenure policy.” Some 300 students and twenty faculty marched in protest. The North Carolina General Assembly threatened to draft legislation to deny tax money to any school that had “discriminatory policies.” The college changed its rules in all departments except Psychology, Philosophy, and Religion. In 2005 Davidson agreed to have non-Christians serve on its board of trustees.
Remembering University Quotas