The right & left false dichotomy in the university

April 27, 2010

[I wrote this text on April 13, while flying from San Francisco to the 2010 AAG Conference in Washington D.C.. This topic has little to do with my blog and phd research, but I’d like to share]

Yesterday I attended to a LAHMBA (Latino and Hispanic MBA’s ) conference. This was mainly organized by students from the MBA program at the Haas School at Berkeley. Even though it was the first time organized it was supported by important sponsors and the speakers were good. There were roughly 80 participants. Hopefully these conferences will keep going on in the future.

I enjoyed the conference. There are many things that I have learned. Even though I sneak out sometime, to get a few books at the Business and Economics Library.

Right now I’m on the plane flying to D.C., for the AAG 2010 Annual Meeting. So I have time to write. There are two anechdotes that I will like to share. So I will make two posts. The first one is about the sad misunderstandings within the higher education students.
In the organizing web they had a survey in which it was asked: What is the most important issue in Latin America today?

I wanted to see the results, for what I had to vote. It took me a while to decided, but then I voted for Education. The results were:

• Education (41%)
• Economy (23%)
• Politics (19%)
• Safety (17%)

I was gladly surprised that the majority of the voters also had chosen this option, which can be categorized as less business and politics oriented.

I meet really good people yesterday. Unfortunately, there is not too much relationship between these business students and the rest of the student body. What is more unfortunate is that there are basic misunderstandings between the groups of students.

As I grew up in my hometown, I always considered myself leaning towards the left. [I found interesting though, that later in my life, mainstream Americans have accused me of being in the extreme left, while mainstream Europeans have accused me to be too much in the right.] But going back to my high school years, when I said to my friends that I was going to enroll in the Business and Economics School, many were surprised that I would choose such as “right-wing” approach. My mother, who grew up in Spain disliking the dictatorship of Franco, suggested me to answer my friends with humor: “well, we should not let all the right-wing control the Economics”. And that’s how I tried to convince my best friends, that I was still the same guy, even if I was going to study Business.

To illustrate the story, during my senior year at high school and Anarchist friend of mine, while walking outside the Business School, informed me that some economists studied how to calculate the price of the life of the workers, during the exploitation process they put the workers through. I could barely believe it, and fortunately it was something that I have never had to hear. But this explains a little bit the missunderstandings that some people have on our studies. Of course she was kind of shocked when she found out that I wanted to study “how to exploit workers”.

Going back to the issue of categorizing the students of Business and Economics as “right-wing” is something that even though in many cases might be true the generalization has kind of upset me. The guys that I met yesterday, they might be as well have this type of approach, but this does not mean that they are not concerned for the well being of their cities, regions and nations. In contrast, other students I have met, that from their different origins that the businesses students one could suppose that they could be more motivated to fight towards stronger “economic justice”, however they are either quite apathetic towards this issue, or they only criticize instead of proposing feasible solutions.

All in all, I just feel bad that there is a bias across the different student groups. Because it’s also true that sometimes people in Economics and Business studies they look with disdain other disciplines. They could learn a lot from each other. The University leaderships could work towards stronger collaboration among students in different disciplines. This for sure would create the needed innovation many universities require. But of course, the university leadership also have their biases.

Solution? Politicians should forget about politics and make things work. Utopia? Yeah, pretty much.

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