How the debate over TMT prompted a problematic email – from Hawaii Public Radio 5/15/2015


HPR2’s Molly Solomon looks into UC Berkeley and the pro-TMT e-mail that sparked discussions on racism and lack of diversity in the astronomy community.

“One little email divided an entire undergraduate department,” said Phenocia Bauerly, the Director of Native American Student Development at UC Berkeley. She heard about the email through a Native Hawaiian astrophysics student, who was uncomfortable with the wording used to describe the protesters on Mauna Kea. “If that was being said about another group of people who were protesting about something…if it was being said about African Americans or Mexican Americans…I think people would respond way differently and say that was completely inappropriate. I don’t think people would sent out an email like that.”

Bauerly led a tense campus discussion on the TMT project. Nearly 70 people showed up, including a handful of astronomy faculty. Bauerly says what troubled her most about the email was senior leadership pushing their opinion on the entire department. “This is really going to impact how people think about the telescope,” she said. “So sending something like that out is irresponsible because so many people look to Berkeley as a leader.”


(Image source: Molly Solomon)

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