Hundreds of academics sign letter in support of prof who criticized ‘diversity statements’


We write with grave concerns about recent attempts to intimidate a voice within our mathematical community. Abigail Thompson published an opinion piece in the December issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. She explained her support for efforts within our community to further diversity, and then described her concerns with the rigid rubrics used to evaluate diversity statements in the hiring processes of the University of California system.

The reaction to the article has been swift and vehement. An article posted at the site QSIDE urges faculty to direct their students not to attend and not to apply for jobs at the University of California-Davis, where Prof.Thompson is chair of the math department. It recommends contacting the university to question whether Prof. Thompson is fit to be chair. And it recommends refusing to do work for the Notices of the American Mathematical Society for allowing this piece to be published.

Regardless of where anyone stands on the issue of whether diversity statements are a fair or effective means to further diversity aims, we should agree that this attempt to silence opinions is damaging to the profession. This is a direct attempt to destroy Prof. Thompson’s career and to punish her department. It is an attempt to intimidate the AMS into publishing only articles that hew to a very specific point of view. If we allow ourselves to be intimidated into avoiding discussion of how best to achieve diversity, we undermine our attempts to achieve it.

We the undersigned urge the American Mathematical Society to stand by the principle that important issues should be openly discussed in a respectful manner, and to make a clear statement that bullying and intimidation have no place in our community.