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Berkeley Scientist Resigning Directorship Over Faculty Refusal To Invite Leading Geophysicist Over Political Opinions
Students walk near the Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

One of the University of California, Berkeley’s top scientists will resign from a directorship after the group refused to invite a geophysics professor who doesn’t ascribe to left-wing politics.

David Romps, director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center (BASC), announced Monday that he was resigning after the BASC faculty denied his request to invite Dorian Abbot, associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, to speak. Abbot was previously scheduled to speak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) but had his lecture canceled because of his political views. Abbot was scheduled to speak about science, not politics.

“The associate geophysics professor, Dorian Abbot, said activists and MIT academics were outraged by comments he made in an August Newsweek opinion piece, wherein he criticized current diversity, equity, and inclusion standards in higher education,” Fox News reported. “In the piece, Abbot proposed an alternative framework called ‘Merit, Fairness, and Equality,’ whereby university applicants are ‘treated as individuals’ and ‘evaluated through rigorous and unbiased’ processes based on merit and qualifications.”

For this, MIT canceled his lecture.

In a Twitter thread, Romps said that he asked the BASC faculty if they could invite Abbot to give the “science talk” he was scheduled to give at MIT. Romp said he wanted to invite Abbot to “reaffirm that BASC is a purely scientific organization, not a political one.”

“In the ensuing discussion among the BASC faculty, it became unclear to me whether we could invite that scientist ever again, let alone now,” Romps wrote. “I was hoping we could agree that BASC does not consider an individual’s political or social opinions when selecting speakers for its events, except for cases in which the opinions give a reasonable expectation that members of our community would be treated with disrespect.”

“Unfortunately, it is unclear when or if we might reach agreement on this point,” he added.

Romps reiterated that the mission of BASC is to serve as “the hub for UC Berkeley’s research on the science of the atmosphere, its interactions with Earth systems, and the future of Earth’s climate.” To that end, he noted that the center shouldn’t limit scientists based on their political and social views.

“More broadly, such exclusion signals that some opinions — even well-intentioned ones — are forbidden, thereby increasing self-censorship, degrading public discourse, and contributing to our nation’s political balkanization,” he wrote.

As The Daily Wire reported, MIT’s cancelation of Abbot’s lecture backfired, with “thousands” signing up for an online alternative lecture from the professor. From The Daily Wire:

It appears, though, that Abbot may have the final word. In response to the controversy, Princeton decided to host Abbot for a Zoom lecture in place of his MIT lecture, and “thousands” have now signed up to hear Abbot speak.

“Now, Princeton has opted to take the reins and host Abbot’s lecture remotely on October 21, the very same day it was scheduled to take place at MIT,” Fox News noted. “A Princeton professor, Robert P. George, said in a Sunday tweet that the ‘Zoom quota’ for the lecture had already been expanded to accommodate more attendees after the web conference limit was reached.”

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