A group of Harvard undergraduates have staged a walkout of economics professor Greg Mankiw’s class, in solidarity with the Occupy movement. According to their statement, they know better than Mankiw what ought to be taught in an introductory economics course:
We are walking out today to join a Boston-wide march protesting the corporatization of higher education as part of the global Occupy movement. Since the biased nature of Economics 10 contributes to and symbolizes the increasing economic inequality in America, we are walking out of your class today both to protest your inadequate discussion of basic economic theory and to lend our support to a movement that is changing American discourse on economic injustice. Professor Mankiw, we ask that you take our concerns and our walk-out seriously.
I hope he does too. In fact, I hope he flunks them. We’ll see then how devoted they are to civil disobedience. I bet they’ll come back crying, begging the professor not to do anything that hurts their precious GPA. Reminds me of that passage from liberal Episcopal priest Chloe Breyer’s memoir of her seminary education in which she gets arrested with other Episcopal clerics at a pro-abortion rally, and complains about the lack of seat belts in the paddy wagon, and also frets that one priest arrested with her had tickets to the theater that night and no doubt hadn’t counted on having to miss the show.
This Harvard stunt just childish and stupid. I’m all for these privileged students coming to realize their own responsibilities to the broader society, especially given what’s happening now with Wall Street and the recklessness of financial elites (many of them Ivy grads). But walking out of a class to protest the way the professor teaches it is tantrummy silliness (I doubt very much they would be complaining about the lack of intellectual diversity in the class if the teacher were a doctrinaire Marxist who followed an exclusivist pedagogy instead of a former Bush administration official). Megan McArdle’s Twitter feed has been good on this topic. Examples:
Harvard students show their committment to OWS by skipping a class they don’t like. Brilliant.
But as a former Ivy League protester, I find it esp grating when future elite “does something” about inequality by cutting.
If Ivy Leaguers want rad econ change, drop out, work at Wal-Mart, & give ur place to kid from Fayetteville or Watts. Otherwise, go to class
Well said. Fatuous Ivy League twits.