An American scientist has sweeped the prestigious university of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) because, according to him, a college of his was canceled after attacks by a “Twitter gang”.
Dorian Abbot, assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, writes on a blog Tuesday that MIT informed him last week that his Carlson Lecture was not going on “to avoid a fuss.”
According to Abbot, MIT has been in favour of a Twitter campaign of some students and university alumni. They wanted to see the lesson canceled. In doing so, they referred to Abbots previous statements.
The “Twitter gang” was angry at Abbot over an opinion article in Newsweek, in which he argued along with Stanford University professor Ivan Marinovic that current university diversity policy, known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, was the principle of equal treatment just undermines.
According to the two scientists, “Merit, Honesty and Equality” should be chosen, where people are “treated as individuals and evaluated according to a robust and unbiased process based solely on their merits and qualification”.
But that idea was used against him when Abbot was allowed to talk about climate and the potential for life outside the Earth. He thought it was a “huge honor.” But then the Twitter attack came by “a small group of ideologically driven people,” Abbot said.
He finds it sad that the university gave in to activists within eight days. “The fact that such stories have become very commonplace in America should not dismiss how shocked we are. This is extremely harmful to a free society,” he says to Fox News, among other things.
Abbots blog article also flies across social media and is widely shared by academics in the US. Its mean, Abbot thinks. “The fact that MIT, one of the best universities in the world, succumbed so quickly will only encourage others to use the same tactics.”
The head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, Professor Robert van der Hilst, says the speech had a public character. “We felt that in the current situation, we couldnt organise an effective event,” says Van der Hilst. “I made that decision after consulting others at the faculty and with students, knowing that some will see it as erosion of academic freedom, a characterization that I dont share.”
Princeton University has now invited Abbot to teach the same lesson at the same time. Abbot has agreed to that.