Students Protest Ec 10 Bias

Baker Professor of Economics Martin S. Feldstein and his most famous class, Social Analysis 10: Principles of Economics, perennially the College's largest, are practically Harvard institutions.

But they are institutions which a group of students led by Ian T. Simmons '98-'99 would like to dismantle.

Last Friday, Simmons passed out pamphlets in the class criticizing Feldstein's conservative influence on the introductory economics course, which fulfills a Core requirement and also serves as a prerequisite for most higher-level economics classes.

Simmons argued that students receive a biased perspective of economics from Feldstein's "conservative" lectures.

However, in a question-and-answer session during Friday's lecture, Feldstein denied that his conservative background unduly biases his economic point of view. He added, though, that it might have some influence.

Some students agreed with Simmons, objecting to what some of them called Feldstein's "Republican agenda."

"I think it's highly unfair for the Ec10 department to use an overly biased Republican standpoint because it's going to affect us no matter what we do in economics. People who don't have a strong background in terms of knowing more about the welfare system...will be strongly biased against welfare," said Chinwe Onyeagoro '00.

But others students defended Feldstein and said the issues raised in the pamphlets are really not a big ,deal.

"I thought that some of it was unrealistic in terms of what they expected an introductory economics course to cover in the span of one year," said Thomas G. Saunders '00.

"The whole thing was blown out of proportion. It seemed like a blatant attempt at creating controversy, of self-promotion," said Jay F. Chen '00, a Crimson editor.

Other students said they did not care about the issue either way.

"I skimmed it ever so briefly," said Nadezhda L. Titarchuk '00. "I didn't see anything that interested me really, so I recycled it."

Jim D. Bauch, who is a teaching fellow for the class and a student at Harvard Law School, said while the pamphlet raised some valid points, many of the issues were exaggerated.

"I don't think it was completely false, but I'm not sure it's to the extent the students said," Bauch said. "The pamphlet seemed to be more about political opinions rather than economic theory."

Bauch also dismissed the idea that Feldstein's Republican affiliation unduly influenced his lectures.

"None of the material presented is conservative material or untrue in any way. It's not the case that we're giving students bad information or giving them one school of thought. Anyone who's suggesting that is being unfair," Bauch said