Student investigators can work in a "new arena" to curb the abuses of a corporation-dominated society, Ralph Nader said yesterday.
Nader, the auto-safety advocate who headed a team of 100 student investigators in Washington, D.C. this summer, called on student activists to expose the environmental costs and injustices unaccounted for in corporate policy, such as pollution and unsafe products.
In his speech yesterday afternoon in Sanders Theatre, Nader criticized university faculties and professional groups for neglecting these public interest problems.
"In 1957 I went to M.I.T. to see what was being done on auto safety," Nader said. "No one was interested, neither faculty or students. They were working on problems useful to corporate demands-oil companies were interested in the geology of the West. What business did not think important was not important to M.I.T."
Universities have three minimum obligations. Nader said: to develop new strategies and information for consumer interests, to define social problems before they are critical, and to develop careers for professionals in the public policy area.
Students have an advantage in beginning public policy studies. Nader said, because they are free of situational constraints, can keep current with new research in their fields, and can supply massive manpower.
Nader suggested that the graduating classes of law schools and colleges pledge a percentage of their income to support full-time investigators in public interest problems around the country. An ad hoe committee will meet at Harvard Law School next week to organize a percent tithe pledge for this year's graduating class.
Nader denied that the neglect of problems caused by corporate power would he easily cured. "I would not go the easy way to say that the way to handle this is to nationalize. I've become extremely cool to structural reform without citizen reform. Whatever you call it, socialism or capitalism, it's all the same unless you have the people who bear the brunt actively participating."