Safe Space Movement Breaks Into Astronomy


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Astronomers who work for the Australian government are demanding “safe workplaces for scientists” that are free of alleged bullying and sexist comments.

The academics demand a safe space from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s state science research organization, because they allege it is “failing to address a culture of bullying and sexual harassment in its astronomy department.”

CSIRO has conducted only 16 investigations into alleged professional misconduct in the department since 2008. None of these investigations led to any legal action and only one involved police.

The academics claim that this extremely low number of investigations is evidence that the Australian government “may suppress reporting of harassment.” The only evidence of harassment provided by the academics demanding a safe space was a statement that their “pain was evident.”

Very little information has been published about the sole case involving police, and the only legal action that occurred was the perpetrator being counseled and having an “adverse finding” placed on their file, indicating that the situation wasn’t serious.

Regardless, The Astronomical Society of Australia pledged on Twitter to “ensure a safe and supportive workplace” and called for individual academic institutions to “critically assess their workplace conditions” to prevent future sexism.

This isn’t the first time astronomers have embraced extremely progressive safe space culture more commonly found on college campuses.

Researchers are planning to relocate a telescope worth $1.4 billion over 8,000 miles from Hawaii to Spain to avoid offending a small group of Native Hawaiians.

Opposition forced the U.S. National Academies of Science to reconsider 15 years of planning to construct one of the world’s largest telescopes on the summit of the dormant volcano Mauna Kea. The Spanish site won’t have the cloud-free Pacific skies, low atmospheric water vapor and other attributes that make Hawaii the best place on Earth for astronomy.

Left-wing protesters have repeatedly attempted to block the construction of the telescope and have attempted to stop it with lawsuits.

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