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Competition isn’t fair: Economics dept. disqualified professor from contest because he won last year

Editor’s Note: This article conveys a situation that unfolded this month at a large, public Midwest university. The name of the student, university and professor have been left off to allow the professor anonymity as he does not have tenure. The College Fix is concerned publishing his name and campus may jeopardize his job security.

Should Tom Brady be disqualified from winning the MVP trophy because he’s won it so many times before? Should Denzel Washington be left out of an Oscar nomination because he’s already won an Academy Award — twice?

Some organizing a “vote for your favorite economics professor” contest at a large, public Midwest university right now might very well say yes — Brady and Washington should be disqualified, in all fairness!

The problem is — those same people are the ones charged with teaching students the law of supply and demand and the importance of competition especially when it comes to how it will impact the consumer.

Here’s what happened: Economic majors, including myself, were asked recently to vote on our favorite economics professor. Excitedly, I scrolled the list looking for my favorite economist.

Although he presents both sides of economic arguments in class, he tends to the right of center when it comes to economic policies. And he makes the subject come alive in so many exciting ways.

I was upset when I did not see his name on the list. I sent out some email queries and I got my reply from the powers that be: He was not up for contention this year because he won last year.

Yes, you read that right. This university disqualified a professor — because he did so well — in the economics department of all places. The reasons given were the usual tripe: fairness and spreading the “wealth,” so to speak. They don’t want the same person winning two times in a row. Apparently, this professor had won by such a large margin last year contest organizers saw the writing on the wall and intervened.

The fact that an economics professor has been prohibited from being on a ballot for the “best economics professor” award because he won last year has ironic and paradoxical implications.

Competition is the bedrock of a free market economy. Competition also serves as a very important economic force and often times, but not always, produces the most efficient results. Although teaching in higher education is not a competition, restrictions placed on a competition in the name of equity is the antithesis of equity.

If these students truly believed that this professor was indeed the best, he should be recognized and awarded accordingly. Not only does placing a restriction on this award violate the competitive aspect of it, it also violates the students’ freedom of choice.

Freedom is not synonymous with fairness. Fairness entails that someone decides what is fair. Just because this professor won this award by such a large margin last year does not mean that he should be punished for it.

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