Apparently, diversity and inclusion isn’t all-inclusive.
Just ask University of Chicago’s Dorian Abbot.
As reported by The College Fix, he was scheduled to speak at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on October 21st.
The associate professor of geophysical sciences would deliver the John Carlson Lecture for MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).
But these days, there’s more to science than…science.
As it turned out, Dorian had ideas on something unrelated: the contemporary craze of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Back in 2020, the Fix featured his public position:
Associate Professor Dorian Abbot…took on the push to hire women and underrepresented minorities rather than select the best candidate for the job, bias against Chinese and Christian students, and other hot-button topics, drawing the ire of protesting students who said the scholar made them feel unsafe.
He’d created a series of videos questioning DEI.
In one clip, he explained, “What concerns me is that recently we have been trying to fix bias problems by building new biases into selection processes.”
He recalled a departmental hiring committee being told the dean “wouldn’t consider a faculty candidate…regardless of ability, unless it was a woman or underrepresented minority.”
Additionally, the educator asserted his department had discriminated against students who were Chinese.
As for a conservative Christian student, the instructor observed, “He is always being excluded. And his opinions and cherished beliefs are mocked and dismissed regularly.”
Furthermore, Dorian lamented the “consequences of treating human beings primarily as members of groups rather than as individuals worthy of dignity and respect.”
And this past August, he co-authored a Newsweek column titled “The Diversity Problem on Campus.”
I regale you with radicalism:
DEI violates the ethical and legal principle of equal treatment. It entails treating people as members of a group rather than as individuals, repeating the mistake that made possible the atrocities of the 20th century.
Moreover, Dorian proposed what many may consider downright devilish: an alternative to DEI — Merit, Fairness and Equality.
Such a system — Trigger Warning — would consider applicants “as individuals” who’d be “evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.”
It didn’t go over well.
Academics sounded off.
UT Austin Assistant Professor Caroline Morley tweeted, “Dorian Abbot, ladies and gentlemen, saying the quiet parts out loud. For your next invited theory talk on paleoclimate/habitability/terrestrial exoplanets, consider inviting someone who *doesn’t* hold deeply problematic views on equity in the sciences.”
The Fix choralled comments from across higher ed, which began sprouting up around September 22nd:
- “Imagine being a student/employee of color in an environment where someone like this is rewarded w/one of the most prestigious platforms to speak. The Newsweek article is so disturbing that I had to pause after each sentence. Please fix this @MIT.”
- “I’m not telling anyone to go this year (to the lecture).”
- “[H]aving a DEI committee means nothing if you give your platform to people like this.”
- “Omg how did *anyone* in @eapsMIT think this was okay? … Totally unacceptable and sends a message to any student that isn’t a white man that they don’t matter and that EAPS isn’t serious about (and is actively hostile towards) DEI.”
One professor suggested speakers allowed at the school must not have divergent ideas:
“The more I think about this, the more angry I get. The sheer hypocrisy of having an entire DEI webpage…and then inviting someone to give a fancy lecture who is antithetical to your DEI charge…”
Another insisted merit has been maimed — hence, DEI is a must:
“By the way, many of us from the same privileged groups that Dorian Abbot imagines he is defending are disgusted by his comments. We do not live in a meritocracy — DEI efforts are justified, necessary, and long overdue.”
Following the hubbub, Dorian was informed the event had been scrapped.
He tweeted thusly:
EAPS at MIT is a great department full of excellent scientists who I admire and respect. The department chair ultimately made the decision to cancel my Carlson Lecture, not them. The chair is a good person, but made a bad decision under pressure in this case.
— Dorian Schuyler Abbot (@DorianAbbot) October 2, 2021
“I forgive the activists who led the campaign against me,” he wrote. “Please do not attack them personally. They are fish swimming in a sea of moral confusion. Some of the responsibility for their behavior rests on their elders, who have not helped them form properly.”
It’s no surprise his speech was speared.
Judging from many headlines of late, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion appears as nearly the primary purpose of school (See: University President Sends a Letter Announcing the School’s Top Priority: Racial Justice and Equity).
If a speaker can’t offer a different perspective than that of his host, what’s the point of hosting speakers?
Either way, Dorian’s topic was unassociated with DEI.
If colleges have cast off education for a more modern mission…and if they’ve replaced diversity of thought with all other sorts…what will be the result?
We’ll find out in a few years, but don’t feel bad for Mr. Abbot.
On Monday, Princeton University pro-free speech Professor Robert George brought news via Twitter:
“I’m pleased to announce that Dorian Abbot’s lecture on extrasolar planets, meant to be the 2021 Carlson Lecture at MIT (until MIT disgraced itself by yielding to pressure to cancel it), will be given at Princeton on the date it was to be given at MIT: Oct. 21. Details to follow.”
In the end, it seems, most everyone will get what they want.
Dorian will address an audience, Princeton will get information, and MIT will protect Diversity and Inclusion — albeit in contradiction to both those concepts.