Dorian Abbot, a University of Chicago geophysicist is the guest lecturer. After he was invited to speak on climate change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT), he was unable to do so due to outrage from students.
However, the students, alumni, and staff revolt was not triggered by Abbot’s climate change views. Abbot’s views on affirmative-action were the problem. In fact, he had publicly condemned race-based decisions regarding higher education staff. His views on these issues are not outside the mainstream—a majority of the voters in California, of all places, also oppose race-based preferences. MIT decided that it was better to not further upset a group of angry activist voices.
It happened several weeks ago but was recently brought to the attention The New York Times. The paper received comments from the head MIT’s earth sciences division, who defended the cancellation of the lecture.
He said that he spoke to M.I.T. officials. Before rescheduling the lecture, he stressed that he had spoken to senior officials at M.I.T. Dr. van der Hilst stated, “It wasn’t who shouted loudest.” “I was very attentive.”
Dr. van der Hilst speculated about the possibility that Black students would be repelled when they heard Dr. Abbot’s opinions on affirmative actions. To explore the latest findings in climate science and M.I.T., this lecture program was established. He hoped that such students would be attracted to the school. He also acknowledged the possibility that such students could in future years encounter mentors or professors who have political opinions different from theirs.
Dr. van der Hilst stated, “Those are great questions, but they’re a bit hypothetical.” Freedom of speech is a great thing, but civility can be difficult.
An additional school scientist supported cancellation of the agreement in stronger terms.
Phoebe A. Cohen (geosciences professor, chair at Williams College) is among many to have tweeted anger at M.I.T.An affirmative-action advocate, Dr. Abbot was invited to speak by the organisers.
Cohen agreed with Dr. Abbot that his views are representative of a wide current in American society. In ideal circumstances, Dr. Cohen said, universities should not allow speakers to speak who are not committed to affirmative and diverse action. M.I.T. wasn’t her favorite.M.I.T.’s invitation to him to speak later to M.I.T. Professors. She stated, “Honestly I’m not sure that I agree with that decision.” The professional implications are very minimal to me.”
She was then asked about the impact on academic debate. Do you think the academy should be considered a refuge for unrestrained speech?
She replied, “This notion of intellectual debate as the pinnacle intellectualism stems from a world where white men were dominant.”
This should make it obvious that there is no way for healthy, open inquiry to thrive in a world with such strict ideological demands.