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Group Endorses Walk Out in Economics 10

By Michael C. George, Contributing Writer

A small group of Harvard students and employees staged an “Occupy Speakout” at noon on Tuesday to express their solidarity with the “National Day of Action.”

The group also sought to raise awareness of events they have planned for today, including a walkout of the popular Economics 10 introductory course and a March in Boston later in the day.

“Mic Check! We are the 99 percent across the country!” the group chanted.

The seven Mic Check participants drew attention to several initiatives taking place today, calling on students to join a campus-wide walkout Wednesday. The organizers are planning two separate walkouts—a general walkout at 11:30 a.m. and a walkout from Ec 10 at 12:15 p.m.—before leading students to join a rally in Dewey Square against rising student debt.

“I urge all students to walk out of Ec 10, [because it] represents the ideology that brought about our current economic situation,” shouted organizer Gabriel H. Bayard ’15.

Rachel J. Sandalow-Ash ’15, who with Bayard is helping organize the Economics 10 walk-out, said she believes the class pushes a “strongly conservative neoliberal ideology.” She said, for example, that she thought lectures promoted conservative views against minimum wage.

“I think a more diverse viewpoint needs to be raised,” Sandalow-Ash said. “The problem is that in an introductory course, what the professor says is generally taken as fact,” she said.

But some students disagree with the characterization of the class. Harvard Republican Club Secretary Aditi Ghai ’14, who took the class last year, said she doesn’t think the class is biased. “The class is about pure economic efficiency. Ideology comes into play when we determine how to balance efficiency with social equity,” she said.

However, Randi B. Michel ’14, currently enrolled in Ec 10, said that she probably wouldn’t walk out. Despite the “constant underlying layer of extreme conservatism, it would be more effective to meet with the Faculty to express any grievances,” she said.

EC 10 professor N. Gregory Mankiw said that Ec 10 is just “mainstream economics,” adding that his textbooks are used at “hundreds of other schools around the world,” including Princeton, Yale and Brown.

“The goal of economics is to help people evaluate the inevitable tradeoffs that public policy entails,” said Mankiw. “While I do not share the specific views of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I am delighted to see students engaged in thinking broadly about social and economic policy. I hope that Ec 10 can help contribute to [that] ongoing discussion.”

Tuesday’s demonstration was intended to show solidarity with the Occupy protests in Oakland, according to Neil Peterman, a student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“The whole occupation was brutally attacked,” Peterman said, describing the police’s recent use of tear gas to clear a plaza on Oct. 26. “The basic message of this Mic Check and other events is to stop silencing our movement.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:

CORRECTION: November 4, 2011

An earlier version of this article incorrectly characterized a student's position on the protest.

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