Renowned writer and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby resigns from UCL to support Sir Tim Hunt, whom he believes was wrongfully treated by the university.
Jonathan Dimbleby has just resigned from his honorary position at the University College of London, in order to protest on how the university has handled Sir Tim Hunt’s situation. He pointed out that their approach was rash and unjust, because it should not be that easy to put an end to such an illustrious career as Sir Tim’s is.
“This is not an offense that should be enough to ensure that a distinguished scientist should be told to resign his position.” said Jonathan Dimbleby in support of his former colleague.
While everybody saw fit that Sir Tim Hunt receive some sort of sanction for his actions, urging the Nobel laureate to resign from his honorary post at the university was extremely far fetched.
Without diminishing either the role of female scientists in the research community, or the importance of the consequences that should follow sexist behavior, it is considered just that the punishment that a person receives for his crimes be assigned in accordance to the gravity of his crimes. Otherwise, the punishment becomes a crime in itself.
Furthermore, Jonathan Dimbleby pointed out that aside for the crucial importance that the university is putting on promoting the role of women in science, it used to consider free speech as having a particular importance to society. This does not mean that he considers Sir Tim Hunt’s comments acceptable, but it does enhance the importance of the fact that he has apologized for what he said.
Jonathan Dimbleby is not the only person at UCL to show support for Sir Tim Hunt. There are many more other scientists that are backing their Nobel laureate colleague, like the world renowned biologist Richard Dawkins, who has spoken up for Sir Hunt from the initial stages of this scandal.
Professor Michael Arthur, University College of London’s chairman, has recently pointed out that the university will not change its decision regarding Sir Tim Hunt, because his resignation remains the only solution, since his conduct is significantly divergent to the the values promoted by the university.
Professor Arthur explained that it could be easily misinterpreted if they were to allow a person who does not attribute the same amount of importance to sexism that the university does to keep his honorary professorial position. And most importantly, even if Sir Tim Hunt made the comments as a joke, the situation remains the same in Arthur’s view, because it still promotes his disregard for the role of female scientists in the community.
However, it seems that not all the rest of the elite staff of the University College of London shares Professor Arthur’s opinion. It remains to be seen how the university will respond to Jonathan Dimbleby’s resignation and what course of action will be taken in the future.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk