I have the legitimate authority to allocate those 160 minutes [per week] of my students’ and my time to the teaching of economics. Within those limits I can try to use my judgement to do what I think is best. I do not have the legitimate authority to allocate those 160 minutes to anything whatsoever, even if I do think it would be a good way for the students to spend their time. I cannot pick and choose between what I think are “good causes” and what I don’t. It’s not my call to make. It’s not my time I’m spending. The students’ time doesn’t belong to me. They signed up to learn economics, and that’s what they are going to get. Even my time doesn’t really belong to me during those 160 minutes. My time has a job to do.

So I say “no” to: student politicians; people offering summer jobs; psychology professors wanting to do experiments; people who want to warn against gambling; groups who want to talk about violence against women; religious groups who want converts; and lots of others I have thankfully forgotten.

They are asking me for my class time, and my students’ time, which aren’t mine to give how I want. They are asking me to abuse my authority. They shouldn’t even ask.