UC Berkeley physicist resigns in protest of the banning of his guest speaker

In 1964, the University of California’s Berkeley campus became home to the growing Free Speech Movement. However, the institution has since become known for limiting free speech rights, and one Berkeley professor just announced that he’s had enough.

According to Fox News, a prominent UC Berkley faculty member is resigning in response to the banning of one of his requested guest speakers. 

Renowned physicist David Romps announced Monday that he made the decision to step down as director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center.

Romps explained in a Twitter thread that his decision came after the university refused his request to have University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot speak.

Why’d he quit?

His decision came in response to remarks Abbot made regarding the rioting that swept America following George Floyd’s death last year.

Berkeley is not the first institution to cancel Abbot, as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called off an appearance he was set to make earlier this month, as the New York Post reported.

Abbot later wrote that “the street violence of the summer of 2020, some of which I witnessed personally in Chicago, and the justifications and dishonesty that accompanied it, convinced me that I could no longer remain silent in good conscience.”

“I recorded some short YouTube videos in which I argued for the importance of treating each person as an individual worthy of dignity and respect,” Abbot added.

A second chance

Abbot’s statements also proved to be too much for UC Berkley, leading Romps to tweet, “Excluding people because of their political and social views diminishes the pool of scientists with which members of BASC can interact and reduces the opportunities for learning and collaboration.”

“More broadly, such exclusion signals that some opinions — even well-intentioned ones — are forbidden, thereby increasing self-censorship, degrading public discourse, and contributing to our nation’s political balkanization,” he continued.

Abbot tweeted: “Consequently, I am stepping down from the directorship at the end of this calendar year or when a replacement is ready, whichever is sooner.”

Fox News noted that despite moves by MIT and UC Berkley to muzzle Abbot’s free speech rights, Princeton University has offered him the chance to speak via Zoom.

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