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To members of the UCSD Economics Community

The Economics Department stands along with the rest of the UCSD Community in condemning both racism and the effects of racism that we have been seeing around the US. It is not just the recent events - the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are part of a much longer term pattern of problems in our society. These problems require action at the city, state and national level. And we understand that the injustices that are the core of the current protests are impacting both our students and other members of our community at very different levels. Many of us may not understand fully the depth of anxiety and pain that racist actions are causing, but we stand with those that are most impacted.


The department maintains and supports the UCSD Principles of Community, and now is a great time for us to remind ourselves of this. We agree with the message of the university outlined by the Chancellor in his message to our community. We agree with UC President Napolitano and Regents Chair Perez in their joint statement about our role as a leading public university in addressing institutional racism. Speaking more closely to the events of last weekend when a student’s association meeting was zoom-bombed with racist epithets, the Council of Chairs strongly condemned this action, as we should. The Dean of Graduate studies has today sent those involved with running graduate programs a list of actions that we look forward to implementing. Racism should have no place on campus just as it should have no place in the wider community.


With exams looming, we have already taken some actions to help with the disruption that these events have caused to our student’s ability to focus on their studies and to learn. The faculty have been requested to take steps to ease the burden of finals on the students. In part due to steps already in place due to Covid-19, we are able to make these accommodations in many cases. Steps include finding ways to reduce the impact of final exams on final grades, and making provisions for students who are unable to take the exams. The provisions we are making are more detailed and broadly consistent with calls from the university and were communicated to faculty earlier this week. We also had calls to cancel finals completely, however this is not something we can do under university rules.


Moving forward, the Economics Department stands behind not just the UCSD principles but those of the American Economic Association as well. We can take some comfort in that as scholars, educators and students in a field that actively engages these issues, we can be part of the real solutions in addition to making statements such as this. Economics as a field has developed many tools that can address the root causes of the problems we are seeing expressed, and many economists work in this space. And economists both here at UCSD and in the rest of the profession work on issues that directly affect those left out of the power structure of our current political systems.


We are starting to see some effects of the protests, however small they are at this point. The city of San Diego has now banned the methods used to kill George Floyd. Politicians are starting to take notice and call for more changes. Economists will be part of the longer run solution to these problems. There is hope in this, even if there are no quick fixes.

Graham Elliott