Graduate Student Activists At Public Universities Do Not Have An Automatic Right To Anonymity
Revisiting a strange claim from the Yoel Inbar controversy
Recently I did something I should never do, and which I rarely do anymore: I searched Twitter for my name. (At least I didn’t Google myself.)
Well, not Twitter, exactly. These days you can’t really do much on Twitter if you’re not logged in, and lately I’ve been posting stuff to the hellsite while being logged out, through a write-only method using the service Buffer. I haven’t actually been engaging with anyone there at all. It’s a system I have stuck to successfully for more than two months, wow I am such a hero, give me hugs for my bravery in the face of crippling social media addiction etc. etc.
Anyway, I do sometimes need to poke around on Twitter for my podcast, and there’s a Twitter-scraping site called Nitter.net that helpfully lets you do that without being logged in. Think of it as the read-only equivalent to the write-only features Buffer offers.
A few weeks ago, my UCLA talk on youth gender medicine was coming up. It was only the second campus talk I’d given on the subject, and the first at a huge university where I thought there was a reasonable likelihood of pushback from students. I was curious whether anything was percolating online, so I searched for my last name and UCLA on Nitter. I didn’t find much (there was some pushback, and to hear about it listen to this episode of Blocked and Reported), but I did find some references to the Yoel Inbar controversy I wrote about this summer.
To review that controversy (and you can skip the next four paragraphs if you are already well-acquainted with it): Inbar is an excellent social psychologist at the University of Toronto, as well as a mensch, based on all accounts I’ve heard and my infallible judgment based on meeting him once for perhaps an hour and a half. His longtime partner was offered a professorship at UCLA. Because of a common academic practice known as “partner hiring,” Inbar was in an advantageous position to apply for his own faculty position so he could join her out there. That process seemed to be going well for Inbar during the customary visit he made to give a talk, meet his potential colleagues and students, and so on. But then some graduate students in the psychology department discovered and/or told their friends that Inbar had, over the years, expressed skepticism of certain aspects of the present diversity, equity, and inclusion orthodoxy on the podcast he co-hosts, Two Psychologists, Four Beers.