J. Allen cartwright writing for Aero,
Dorian Abbot, a geophysics professor at the University of Chicago, was invited to give a lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). (Abbot’s impressive credentials include a Harvard PhD in applied mathematics and a strong publication record.) However, some people objected to the invitation after finding out that he would be advocating for merit-based (as opposed to diversity-based) criteria for faculty hires and fellowship awards, and as a result, MIT cancelled his talk. In response to this cancellation, the director of the University of California Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center, David Romps, invited Abbot to give the talk at Berkeley instead. When other Berkeley faculty members overruled the invitation, Romps resigned in protest, noting, “It was never my intention to lead an organisation that is political or even ambiguously so.” Abbot’s and Romps’ experiences are examples of the pitfalls that academics face when they step even slightly outside the lines of the prevailing political orthodoxy.