In the 1930s, the Communist-led National Student League of high school and college students joined with the Socialist Student League for Industrial Democracy to form the American Student Union (ASU).

The ASU promoted extensive reforms of federal aid to education, government job programs for youth, academic freedom, racial equality, collective student bargaining rights, abolition of compulsory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and opposition to war.

From 1936 to 1938 the movement mobilized thousands of college students in annual one-hour strikes, stating: “We will not support the government of the United States in any war it may conduct.”

In 1938, an  ASU position change in support of European armament split Socialist members (in favor of continued pacifism) and  Communist members (in favor of rearmament).

In 1938, the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities investigated ASU connections with the American Communist Party.  The ASU was terminated in 1941.