#FireMarcy, #AstroSA & #BlackLivesMatter
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
91

Thanks Chanda for writing this. I’m an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and the issues that have gone through our Astronomy department in the past year were more than I ever imagined when signing up for an undergraduate institution. Before the Marcy news break, the last public scandal was earlier in the year, when Alex Filippenko forwarded the offensivly racist email about native Hawaiians. I recognize that the difference between the severety of the actions in the cases of Filippenko and Marcy are worlds different, but I think the community response to each of them can be compared. For the Marcy case, there have been meetings within the department between grad students and post docs, faculty, faculty and undergrads, and a slew of behind the scenes discussions that I haven’t been privy to. Public statements have been made. Everyone is in agreement that what Marcy has done is both wrong and that the handling of it by the administration was completely inappropriate. However in the Filippenko case, although there was initial backlash to the email, almost nothing was done on the department side, no meetings or discussions or anything. Actually, the prevailing opinion among department members was, how did this get out? This is going to give us bad publicity. Faculty and undergraduates alike were really mad that we (a few select undergrads) were making it a big deal. Eventually everyone forgot about it except now undergraduates get fewer department-wide emails, as a result of us getting offended at things too easily. Not to compromise the validity and severity of sexual assualt, but it would have been really nice to get the same amount of support when confronting issues of racism. So I’m with you in asking, why does racism fall by the wayside?