“Thousands” of people have signed up for an online alternative lecture featuring the University of Chicago professor Dorian Abbot after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) canceled his lecture and booted him from its expert series following complaints from alumni and students who noted that Abbot had criticized diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in higher education.
“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.”
The idea that candidates should be admitted to institutions of higher education on their individual merits was so outrageous to MIT’s alumni and students that they banded together to pressure the top school to cancel his “lecture on climate science and life on other planets” — the school’s annual Carson Lecture — even though his studies — and the subject of the lecture — are completely unrelated to DEI.
“Dorian Abbot, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, wrote in an op-ed on Bari Weiss’ Substack on Tuesday that MIT contacted him last week to say his Carlson Lecture was being canceled to ‘avoid controversy,’” the New York Post noted. “Abbot accused MIT of ‘quickly’ relenting to a Twitter campaign led by MIT students and recent alumni that demanded he be uninvited from the annual public lecture because he’d recently argued that academic evaluations should be based on merit.”
“A small group of ideologues mounted a Twitter campaign to cancel a distinguished science lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because they disagreed with some of the political positions the speaker had taken. And they were successful within eight days,” Abbot wrote. “The fact that such stories have become an everyday feature of American life should do nothing to diminish how shocking they are, and how damaging they are to a free society. The fact that MIT, one of the greatest universities in the world, caved in so quickly will only encourage others to deploy this same tactic.”
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.”