June 17, 2019

532nd Convocation; Alums Respond to Diermeier on GSU | Newsletter for June 17

By Elaine Chen    and Lee Harris   

Good morning. It’s the first week of summer. 🌞

Congratulations to everyone who graduated on Saturday!

  • The Maroon’s photo section asked college seniors what keepsakes they’ve kept with them throughout their four years. Among their most cherished belongings: champagne, a cactus, and a bike named Gertrude.
  • Grey City spoke with two women who returned to campus this past weekend to obtain doctorate degrees for programs they began decades ago. One of them left 52 years ago after experiencing sexual harassment by two professors. The other left 48 years ago after her choice for doctorate adviser would not take her because he did not want a woman in his research group.

Dean of the College John Boyer walks with Stony Island at convocation.

Alexandra Nisenoff / The Chicago Maroon

Luigi Zingales, a finance professor at the Booth School of Business, delivered Saturday's convocation address, citing Chicago economists Milton Friedman and George Stigler in a talk that praised market capitalism.

  • Because attorneys are less willing to defend tobacco companies, Zingales said in one example, wages for tobacco lawyers are driven up, and tobacco giants choose to settle more lawsuits. “Being without principle sometimes pays off. Law firms have a tobacco career track for those lawyers willing to defend tobacco companies. Tobacco lawyers earn more and make it to partnership faster. While this difference may seem wrong, it’s essential for the market system to work.”
  • If students remember one sentence from his talk, Zingales said, he hopes it’s his “surprise [at] some people who identify the Chicago faculty – especially the economic and finance faculty – with a certain ideology. Chicago faculty, however, abide to a method, not to an ideology.”
  • Zingales made headlines last year when he invited Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and a founding member of right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, to speak at Booth. The invitation prompted student protests and received national coverage, deepening debate on the meaning and scope of free inquiry.



Booth Professor of finance Luigi Zingales speaks at convocation.

The University of Chicago

The question of graduate student unionization has received increased attention from administrators and alumni following Graduate Student United’s three-day strike for University recognition that occurred two weeks ago.

  • The day after the strike ended, provost Daniel Diermeier sent a University-wide email explaining why the University does not support unionization—among the most detailed public statements the administration has given on the issue since graduate students voted to unionize in October of 2017.
  • Over 200 alumni in support of union recognition published an open letter to Diermeier in The Maroon, offering point-by-point rebuttals to the arguments made in Diermeier’s email.

US-China tensions prompted Zimmer to send a University-wide email stressing UChicago’s commitment to supporting international students and scholars.

  • The email comes a week after China’s Ministry of Education issued a statement warning students considering studying in the US to assess potential risks—the latest move by the Chinese government in the escalating U.S.-China trade war.
  • On the same day the Ministry of Education published the statement, Zimmer was in China renewing agreements on academic exchanges with Wuhan University.

The Obama Center cleared a hurdle—temporarily—to breaking ground in Jackson Park, which the Obama Foundation hopes to begin later this year.

  • A federal judge struck down charges brought by an environmental activist group over a year ago against the city claiming that the city is violating its obligations as a public trustee by allowing the Obama Foundation—a private organization—to construct the Center on public parkland.
  • Two UChicago law professors who filed amicus briefs on opposite sides of the legal battle were also divided over the judge’s ruling.
  • The Center still faces demands from activist groups for a Community Benefits Agreement ordinance, which 20th Ward alderman Jeanette Taylor and Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston will be introducing in City Council in July.

Our local aldermen are also up to other initiatives.

  • Fourth Ward alderman Sophia King introduced an ordinance last week to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021. King’s proposal comes after Illinois passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025.
  • Hairston has been demanding hearings on procedures to prevent and end sexual harassment by city employees.

A reminder: Over the summer, The Maroon does not publish print issues, and newsletters will be sent out twice a month.

Correction on June 17, 2019, 10:43 a.m. CDT:

The article originally stated that Professor Zingales cited “George Stiglitz”. The correct name is George Stigler.