The “March for Science” is being ripped apart by organizers who want to make gender and racial diversity the center of a march initially formed to push back against the Trump administration’s allegedly “anti-science” stance.
Tensions over the march’s stance on diversity has caused some organizers to quit and many scientists to pledge not to attend as the focus shifts from science to overtly left-wing causes, according to an in-depth report by STAT.
In fact, march organizers tweeted out a statement on how they valued diversity and equity after STAT published its report. It included a lengthy comment from Rachael Holloway, who’s in charge of diversity for the march.
We asked Rachael, who heads our diversity team, to respond to today’s STAT News article. pic.twitter.com/on26rX7imr
— March for Science (@ScienceMarchDC) March 22, 2017
The “March for Science” started to gain traction in January, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook. Major environmentalist and activist groups have backed the march, which is planned for Earth Day in Washington, D.C., but sister marches are planned in other cities as well.
But as support for the march grew, so did concerns over its core message.
University of Maine biologist Jacquelyn Gill recently left the march’s organizing committee over “leaders’ resistance to aggressively addressing inequalities — including race and gender,” STAT reported.
“We were really in this position where, because the march failed to actively address those structural inequalities within its own organization and then to effectively communicate those values outward, we carried those inequalities forward,” Gill told STAT. “Some of these problems stem from the march leadership failing early on in its messaging.”
Gill was part of the wing of conference organizers advocating for scientists and activists to take on broader issues in science, including issues of racial diversity in science, women’s equality, and immigration policy,” STAT reported.
On the other side, Nashville-based web consultant Shane Morris left the march’s organizing committee over worries that “appeasing diversity demands and not worried enough about its legacy,” he told STAT.
“I’m definitely not against talking about equality issues,” Morris said, “I just felt it was an inappropriate forum.”
Morris hoped the march would result in further lobbying efforts to pass legislation to fund science programs. Issues, like gender and diversity, could be handled after that.
The march’s official statement on diversity has gone substantial changes since January, expanding to include portions on disabilities and inclusiveness. The march’s social media account has also been criticized for not being sensitive enough on gender issues.
Science activists started organizing the march in January amid fears the Trump administration would cut funding to science programs. Organizers say partisan politics has “given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence” on scientific issues — cue cries over global warming “deniers.”
Organizers say the conference is a protest against President Donald Trump, but some scientists have said the march clearly has an ideological bent.
Media outlets have certainly interpreted the science march as a protest against Trump’s policies.
“Scientists Mad About Trump’s Policies are Taking Action,” NBC News reported. “The Scientist’s March on Washington Now Has a Date,” Time wrote.
“If you’re wondering what this has to do with science, you’re certainly not alone,” Alex Berezow, a senior fellow at the American Council on Science and Health, wrote in a post about why he’s not attending the march.
“The answer, of course, is nothing. These issues are the primary concern of revisionist historians and social justice warriors, not empirically-minded scientists,” Berezow wrote, pointing to public statements by march organizers.
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