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A Berkeley Resignation Over Canceled MIT Talk

October 21, 2021

David Romps, professor of earth and planetary science at the University of California, Berkeley, says he’s resigning as director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center over an internal disagreement about extending an invitation to a fellow climate scientist. Romps made his announcement in a lengthy Twitter thread, and while he didn’t mention the fellow scientist by name, it is clearly a reference to Dorian Abbot, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago whose planned public lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was recently canceled over concerns about Abbot’s commentary on academic diversity initiatives, including his comparison of the diversity “regime” to Nazism.

Abbot will give his climate science address today instead at Princeton University, which offered to host him when MIT canceled. Romps said he also wanted to reach out to Abbot, to ask him to deliver his MIT talk at Berkeley, and that he was disappointed by the reactions of his immediate colleagues (Romps did not share details about who disagreed, or why). Romps said, “I was hoping we could agree that BASC does not consider an individual’s political or social opinions when selecting speakers for its events, except for cases in which the opinions give a reasonable expectation that members of our community would be treated with disrespect,” but that it’s “unclear when or if we might reach agreement on this point.”

Berkeley said in a statement, “Prof. Romps’s resignation is unfortunate, but it is his decision to make.” Abbot will visit MIT to address fellow scientists, not the general public, in May.

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