Economics Grad Students Call for Reforms

January 2, 2019

Hundreds of graduate students are calling on the American Economic Association and individual economics departments to adopt reforms amid a scandal over a prominent economist, Roland Fryer of Harvard University. Fryer resigned from the executive committee of the association amid reports of harassment allegations he faces at Harvard (he has declined to comment on them). The association said it was unaware of the allegations when he was named to the committee.

An open letter, issued in response to the reports on Fryer, says in part, "This is a painful moment for our discipline. Abuses of power, bullying, and harassment damage peoples’ health and happiness, ruin careers, and reduce the quality of scholarship in economics. Moreover, it is well documented that these abuses of power disproportionately harm women, minorities, and queer individuals. These frustrating realities have pushed us to ask how economics can address the power imbalances that drive out talented individuals, prevent the inclusion of underrepresented groups, and collectively damage our discipline."

The letter calls on leaders in the profession to "listen to us" about the problems faced by graduate students and others, for each department to "create, communicate, and enforce department-level standards of conduct" and for the association to "Implement a discipline-wide reporting system to document bad behavior."

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